One of the first questions we trainers ask our clients at Perform for Life is “What is your goal?” As you can imagine, we get a wide variety of a lot of responses, from wanting to lose weight to getting bigger/stronger to being able to perform a certain task. I always try to avoid pushing a goal on an athlete, as a goal that I give them won’t truly drive them in a way that a goal they themselves came up with could. As a coach, it’s my job to help my athletes find the "why" that brings them into the gym. Weight loss and/or looking bigger can be your ‘why’ and there’s nothing wrong with that, but a question I like to ask next is “what can’t you do now that you’d like to, within reason, be able to do?”
I like this question because it follows the training philosophy we use at Perform for Life: we want everything to be built off of health and foundational/functional movement first then to work towards performance goals. If an athlete answers with “running”, we then look at why he or she can’t run at the moment. Sometimes it’s because of pain during running, after running, or it’s because the athlete simply doesn’t feel confident in their running. After the initial assessment, we’re able to see how close an athlete may be to this activity, and we’re able to develop a program that will help them work towards it. There are many different starting levels in an exercise program: someone may be working back from an injury, or simply exercising for the first time, so it’s our job to use progressions and regressions to safely work the athlete up to the activity they’d like to be able to do. We know our scope and will be honest as to whether we think we can help our athlete toward that goal, or whether they might need to be referred out to someone like our bodywork specialist Bob Gazso or another health practitioner. The little ‘within reason’ addition to my original question is for just this: we can accomplish many of our goals if we set our minds to them, but there are just some injuries/conditions that will prevent people from doing certain activities.
So why do I want people to really ask themselves, “What can’t I do now that I would like to be able to do?” Because I don’t think there should be anything in life that your body holds you back from - I believe that is true health. If ever you find yourself saying ‘no’ to something because you aren’t sure you’re physically able to do it, take a step back and ask yourself, “Do I want to be able to do this?” If it’s relatively unimportant to you, then move on; however, if there is something fun you’ve already counted yourself out of, maybe it’s time to make a change. Perhaps you’re already doing the activity you enjoy, but want to improve your performance. These are the types of goals that really drive people to the gym because they’re based on movement and quality of life. No one is happy to say they can’t do something, so start knocking things off of that list - think of something you want to accomplish, and start taking steps to accomplish it. This can apply in all realms of your life.
I am in no way detracting from the people out there coming into the gym to put on muscle or lose weight, but to them I’ll just say this: why not accompany that goal with one that has more meaning in your life? Make the gym somewhere that you look forward going to, and somewhere that you’re doing something that will truly improve your quality of life!