“So, what’s that work?” asked the guy, grabbing at the body fat hanging over his hips.
I was teaching him barbell floor bridges. He was hoping I would reply hip fat.
In case you’re wondering, the glutes drive the floor bridge’s movement, but the answer to what does it work? That’s a question based on thinking like a body builder.
This is the result of an exercise world largely shaped by the body builders of yesterday. We’re all working out to make some part of ourselves better like we can part our bodies as if they were cars.
If you want a truly healthy self-image, stop thinking like a bodybuilder. Start thinking like an athlete.
You can do this by crawling out from under fat loss goals, setting performance-based goals, then measuring your improved performance.
Don’t worry if you were really hoping to lose the twenty pounds of sympathy weight you picked up while your wife was pregnant. You will, but that won’t be your metric for success.
End The Fat Loss Goals
Don’t hate bodybuilders. Most of what today’s gym attendees are doing is categorically bodybuilding. They don’t know it, but they are using hand-me-down advice, recycled since the 1970’s (at least).
After ten years in the fitness industry, I can let you in on a little secret: Gyms [shocker!] want to sell you memberships.
You want to buy one too, but it’s easier to resist that urge, so you excuse yourself from the purchase. Gym owners know this, so they tug at your heart strings to get you motivated. They know that if they can get you to agree that losing fat is the most important thing to you, then they can convince you they have the keys to the castle.
That’s an easy get. More than 80% of the public want to lose fat. 100% of people would change one thing about their body if they could by snapping their fingers. Gyms just have to unlock whatever that is or convince you it’s losing body fat in order to sell to you.
It’s not evil. It’s business. The letdown is that fat loss goals don’t sustain users. They fail over and over. Then, those users go back to the same gym to pay more for a new membership. The cycle goes round.
Do this instead: refuse to play along.
Set Performance-based Goals
I don’t mean play games with the gym guys. Tempting, but that won’t help. Get the best membership for you. Buy it online if possible. Skip the sales pitch where they try to convince you that you want to lose weight, even if you really, really do.
Get a trainer if you can afford one, if you don’t know what you are doing. It’s absolutely worth it but hire the right one. The right one is the one that you trust, certifications aside (but they should have at least one). Tell your trainer you don’t want to work on body fat. Pick something else.
This is where it gets fun. You are wide open for options. An easy goal is sports-based as you can work towards improving some aspect of your game. A good trainer will give you weight training exercises to complement your goals.
Not into sports? Me neither. I’m into lifting better.
Here are a few other performance-based goals you might use to stimulate your creativity: distance or time goals for walking or running, training for a mud run, training to reduce pain in your back, training to pick up your children, training to defend yourself.
It really is limitless to pick performance goals and way more fun. You can just keep moving the target farther away.
Measure Your Improved Performance First
Hard truth: Working towards performance-based goals will not guarantee you’ll lose weight, but you will have a lot more fun trying.
The progress is all about your work in the gyms, so you can measure it to gain confidence. Fat loss requires a whole ‘nother level of commitment outside the gym. Later for all that.
Having fun, staying challenged or curious, these aspects are critical to your motivation. Staying motivated may afford you the time to start considering your food intake. It will keep you going back to the gym. It will give you the chance to change your life the way you wanted to in the first place.
It puts you back in control of your health, not the gym guys.
I must submit a heartfelt apology to my old gym management cronies. Guys, I had to do it. I should warn you, there’s more where this came from…