A common mis-perception prevalent in today’s society of a person lifting weights in the gym is a steroid-buffed buffoon who hogs all the lifting machines. He (or she) grunts like a pig so loud lifting gigantic weights – a maverick risk-taker with a highly inflated view of their own self-worth.
Women and some men are still petrified about this even in today’s modern world and so they steer clear of the weights room. Very sad indeed. The consequence of this is that many people don’t believe they have what it takes to start and stick to a weight-training program because they’re not like that stereotypical mis-perception.
Now, I am not saying that such gym-goers don’t exist, they do, but they are the minority. They have their place in the health and fitness industry. They are great for the supplement and drug industries. “Take this supplement/drug and you can look like me” sells. Its big money. I can tell you that in my 20 plus years of training in gyms, the only people I have met like that are few and far between, mainly in magazines and some tv and big screen movies starring the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger. The majority of people now don’t look like that.
Real gym enthusiasts are real people just like you. Mums and dads and brothers and sisters and uncles and aunties. The only difference between them and the majority of people who do nothing or just go for aerobics classes is that they have, for one reason or another, decided to lift weights. There is no qualification process, no entry requirements – just a decision to go to a gym, followed by action.
However, there are certain qualities that successful body sculpturers/builders/gym goers tend to have. Fortunately, they’re not uncommon and all of them can be learned.
After 23 years and counting, here are the main traits that all good gym enthusiasts have as I see it:
1. Determination – above all else you need to have the stamina and drive to finish what you start and the desire to look a certain way – either for you or for your loved ones. However, I am just guessing here, I would say that for every 100 people who sign up to a gym, I reckon, 95 lose hope and belief in themselves and where they are going within the first 3 months of starting. Hey, a good example is those who start something as part of their New Year’s Resolution. Are you one of them?
2. Humility – not a quality you associate with a regular gym-trainer, is it? I say this because of the awareness the person needs to have to be able to accept that he/she is not perfect and that he is doing something about it. He/she is going to the gym to help make themselves closer to what they imagine themselves to be in the mirror. A better version of themselves and being their best for themselves, and for others.
Its means being honest with yourself and accepting that you don’t know everything. Its knowing that you don’t know much about body re-engineering and managing your risk levels, bringing them down to an acceptable level. You could either try seeking help from a trained professional or doing your research on your own and taking on all the associated risks if you decide to train on your own. You’ll also have to be a person who likely has a mind open to learning new things, in a field that is not your strong point, every single day. But remember: arrogance is an injury waiting to happen and a workout killer!
3. Decisiveness – nothing gets done unless you make decisions. We all agree on that. Building and re-engineering a physique, a new improved physical version of yourself is a repeated process of action through a structured program, deduction through pattern recognition of observations made (how much weight, reps, rest times, energy etc), information gathering, feedback, followed by decision-making.
If you’re taking this journey on your own, you take responsibility for your own decisions and once you do this, you take control of your physique transformation and not blame anyone or any external factor. If you’re a beginner and smart enough to seek out an experienced professional, even better. One of the highest risks is getting injured. Believe me, after 23 years of gym training I have been made aware of preventable injuries unfortunately suffered by many gym goers.
4. An analytical mind– you need to be able to evaluate every aspect of your workout, at every stage of your development. You must analyse whether things are working as they should and how you need to improve them. There are a lot variables – reps, sets, rest times, tempo, breathing and execution techniques etc. The list goes on. The best trainers/coaches have minds that think laterally and are not afraid to change workouts to adapt to the person being trained.
Ask yourself if this is the right time in your life to undergo a physical transformation for the better. Say for example, you’re in your mid-50s and you have been thinking about reducing your waist line so as to lower your ‘life risk’ such as increased risks of heart-related ailments. Is it something you have been thinking about for such a long time and have not done anything about? Stop looking for excuses and the situation you’re in, simply be honest with yourself and ask yourself “are you ready?”
It is never too late to start. I have helped hundreds of people get started, people of all ages including many in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80+ year olds. Their quality of life improves out of sight and they breathe vitality – the essence of life, back in themselves. Recently, after achieving his original physical goals and more, a 72 year old client of mine said that the five months he spent with me was the best investment he had made in his life – and he would know as he spent a big part of his life investing in large property deals in his line of business. He was a brave man, open-minded and determined enough to not only desire a better way to live his life but also adopt and adapt daily habitual changes that would help him get the desired results in the short-term but also for the next 30 years or so.
So, start a strength, health and fitness program. Even if you’re not, take a leap of faith and believe in yourself, believe that you can do it. Like I have said in earlier blogs, it may not only add years to your life but also life in your years. It does not matter what age you start or how out of condition you are – just start. Your life depends on it!
The sad truth is I would think that probably over 95% of gym goers stop going after a few months of starting, but that means that 5% continue and do succeed. You need to ensure you’re in the successful 5%. Adopting the four traits I have listed above and a ‘can-do attitude’ is what it takes.
How can you increase your chances of success in your program? Do yourself a favour: find yourself a trainer/coach that gives results – WITH CARE. This may not only be the best thing to get you started but also stay on track until you build up enough momentum to keep going on your own, progressing with safety.
Until next time,
p.s.. below: in the heat of competition at the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships. Grabbing 2nd place (for the 3rd time) in the Men’s Under 80kg category in 2011 (losing by 2 points). Like any other sport, competitors are judged and compared within certain rules and regulations.
L to R: a pose called “rear double biceps” and “side triceps” pose. In a bodybuilding contest, you get judged on how complete your physique is. Judges look for (amongst other things) – symmetry, balance, density, leanness, hardness, fullness, flow of muscle and stage presence.