7 Ways You Can Create Your Best Success In the Gym
The last time I checked, 88 (or so) out of every 100 people that join a gym say they are doing so in order to lose weight. Fantastic - drop your calories by 20%, ensure that you sleep 7 - 9 hours per night, and exercise moderately for 30 - 60 minutes per day. We’re done. Short weight loss blog, right?
The whole “weight loss” thing is what I like to call a “racket”. In other words, you most likely showed up to Striation 6 or another Toronto gym of choice for more than losing weight; or, even more commonly, not for losing weight at all! I’ll save the how and what of “weight loss” for another blog entry. I am mentioning it here only because - allegedly, at least - 88 out of every 100 gym-goers define their gym success in its light.
As a gym owner and Exercise Professional of 8 and 20 years respectively, I have seen people’s perceptions of success in the gym setting evolve and transform with the growths knowledge and confidence around exercise. Our Mission (link) at Striation 6 involves the meaningful engagement of our clients in their exercise processes. We love what we do the most when our clients learn about themselves and exercise. The positive, long-term relationships that we have managed to build with our clients transcend weight-loss and any monetary value. What I have come to learn in my experiences as a gym owner is that there are many ways to define success in the gym beyond losing weight, looking better, and "making gainz".
These are 7 huge ways that I have seen clients create their best gym success beyond weight loss. I will list them first and then delve deeper into each one. In my experience, each of these success formats represents significant, internal meaning. I will always maintain that what we are truly selling at Striation 6 is knowledge and confidence - represented more accurately through these achievements far better than any aesthetic or athletic goal. Although I’d love for you to read about all of them, I’ll list them first so that if one hits a particular chord with you, then you can skip right to it. Here they are in list format:
“Healthy Weight Loss”
Just Getting to Gym Consistently - First Things First!
A Step Beyond Consistency - Feeling Good in the Gym!
Increased “Able-ity” - Real-Life Transfer of Your Gym Efforts
REAL Exercise Knowledge
REAL Exercise Confidence
Passing It On
Healthy Weight Loss
So, we’ve gone over how just about everyone who engages in going to the gym does so with the goal of losing weight. But, what does that mean?
Generally speaking, it means people want to lose body fat - maybe even gain a bit of lean, “toned” muscle - and feel better, inside and out. Sounds good, right? The challenge in today’s world for anyone seeking weight loss surrounds the lies being told around weight loss and the products being sold to help accomplish it. We are constantly inundated with pills, powders, drinks, cleanses, workout programs, motivational tracks, and other products promising miraculous weight loss results with little time or effort. The real challenge internally is that we want to believe in these products because it shucks self-responsibility on to someone or something else.
If these products do work, the weight loss results are generally temporary and the processes tend to involve extreme efforts in both exercise and nutrition. These tend to lead to excessive fatigue, extreme behaviours, and overwhelming senses of deprivation amongst participants. It is easy to see how someone looking to feel good using these products would, at that point, continue to not feel good and fall back into old habits, ruining any weight loss outcomes that might have resulted from these efforts. Fail. Epic fail. This kind of weight loss is not only temporary and ineffective, it is also categorically unhealthy. Sound like something you have experienced before? Keep reading.
Healthy weight loss, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. And, it should always be celebrated as a MASSIVE success in the gym. To me, these are the three trademarks of healthy weight loss:
Healthy weight loss has a deeper meaning than a good physique. Believe me when I tell you, there is nothing wrong with wanting, having, or admiring a good physique. I don’t care what anyone says, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who admire the aesthetic of a beautiful body and deluded liars. Ask around, it’s the truth.
With that said, in my experience the healthiest forms of weight loss tend to involve a higher purpose. When I hear clients say things like “I want to find companionship for the long-term”, or “I want to live to see my grandson graduate high school”, or “I want to travel and see the world and I need to be able to fit into an economy airplane seat”, I know that they are looking for results beyond the actual weight loss itself. This goes beyond motivation - which is temporary - and tends to lead to long-term sustainable processes and results.
Healthy weight loss is gradual. The human body and its associated systems categorically work best when nudged along gradually rather than being forced uncomfortably into an overly accelerated pace. Want to lose 10 lbs? Great! Could you do it in a week? Sure! Will you most likely gain 15 lbs back almost as immediately as you lost the original 10? Bloody likely. Gradual fat loss is more sustainable for the long term. And, honestly, it’s a far more enjoyable process.
Healthy weight loss is a positive process. Deprivation, starvation, food restriction, exercise that leaves you feeling “dead” - these are surefire ways to injure yourself, lose a lot of the enjoyment from your life, and, most likely, avoid success in your quest to lose body fat. To lose weight in a healthy way, think of adding. Add exercise; add healthy foods; add healthy habits to your day; and, add the enjoyment of a new, gratifying, feel-good process to your life.
Healthy weight-loss is definitely a win in the gym. I think that I started with this point not only to address the greatest proportion of the population of most gyms, especially in a big city like Toronto, but also because I have experienced significant, healthy weight loss myself over the last couple of years. More to come on that point in a later blog post . . .
Just Getting to The Gym - First Things First!
I will point out the obvious point here that I’ve used the expression “first things first” in the title of the second sub-point of this blog.
This point is fairly straightforward. Getting to the gym consistently is an absolute success in your exercise process. If you are able to do so, it shows that you have made time for yourself (good for you!) and that you have prioritized exercise in your life. If you are getting to the gym consistently, and even if you have not accomplished any of your desired exercise-related outcomes yet, revel in this: you are already successful.
A Step Beyond Consistency - Feeling Good in the Gym!
Picture it: you’re getting to the gym consistently. At first, the act was like self-torture. You hated that nervous feeling you had every time you put on your workout clothes. Your thoughts oscillated between “I know this is good for me” and “I’m still not sure about this”. Time went on though, and you fought through that Resistance. If you happened to be a Striation 6 client, you probably got to know Daisy and the rest of our team, and your feelings of discomfort dissipated. Then, you accomplished something. Maybe you dropped a pant size; maybe you crushed an ISOSpin class; maybe you got to the gym 20 times in one month! Maybe, best of all, you threw on your workout clothes and felt swollen with gratitude that you were on your way to your next workout.
Undoubtedly, just feeling good about going to the gym is one of the best ways feel successful about each individual workout and your success with exercise overall. Here are a few tips to help you feel good about going to the gym and exercising overall:
Put a few workouts outfits together that you love. As silly as it sounds, your workout “uniform” can make an impact on your headspace and, in turn, your workouts themselves.
For me, working out is a solo effort. However, if you’re a fan of exercising with friends, find a training partner that jives really well with your gym jam. If you’re like me (an iron loner, so to speak), still find someone at your gym that you enjoy seeing or who helps you feel encouraged and positive about the prospect of exercising. For me, when Glen, Mary-Danielle, or Kyle are working out at the same time as me, my pump always goes a little farther!
Find a facility that fits you! In a city like Toronto, there are so many gyms to choose from. Most people filter by price and location. While those are valid factors in choosing your workout oasis, they are not the ONLY factors. If something in your cheap (or expensive), local Toronto gym doesn’t jive with you, there is no way that you will either feel good about being there, nor are you likely to maintain a consistent exercise process or achieve your workout goals. At Striation 6, we do our best to see to it that our clients are accommodated, informed, and welcomed at our facility - not the easiest thing to do as a gym in a city the size of Toronto! However, I believe that this should be an industry standard. You really ought to ask yourself if the people running your gym of choice believe so, too.
Increased “Able-ity”- Real-Life Transfer of Your Gym Efforts
So, I’m a bit weird. I like exercise in and of itself; I like exploring the GUTS of it. Strategically varying exercise for myself and for my clients is interesting and gratifying to me - so much so that I started my own gym so that I could do it on a larger scale! However, I have to admit that I still love it when my gym efforts take me to success outside of the gym, and I heard a lot of feedback from Striation 6 clients saying the same thing. Remember: 88 out of every 100 people in the gym want to “lose weight”. And, to be honest, the bulk of the remaining 12 usually indicate that they want some variation of being strong or more muscular. However, when a client learns that he or she can now walk without a cane, play with grandchildren, keep up with friends on a hike, have improved bone density results, or even climb the stairs without getting winded, that person learns unequivocally that he or she is now more able (hence, “able-ity”) to get more out of life. These small but significant achievements allow you to have a real return on your exercise investment, and are definitely signs of success from your gym and workout efforts.
Short preamble for the next three sections: At Striation 6, I genuinely believe that we do not sell exercise services. We sell knowledge and confidence around exercise. This is the root of my philosophy both as a gym owner and an Exercise Professional. I would encourage you to pay attention to these and hold them near to you as you engage in exercise, no matter where you workout. And, finally, I see the idea of passing exercise on to those you care about as nothing less than the highest form of gym success.
“Real” Exercise Knowledge
Another way that you can see yourself as successful in the gym is through your assimilation of “real” exercise knowledge. Why do I have “real” in quotations? It’s actually quite simple. I consider “real” exercise knowledge to be based around a process rather than a product. Actions such as Googling workout programs, following Instagram workout gurus, and repeating the exercise theories of the various workout zealots out there are all great ways to START your exercise journey. However, repeating someone without the ability to critically think through what that person is instructing you to do doesn’t make you smart; it makes you a sheep. And, again, maybe that’s a good place - or even the only place - to start your exercise thought process. Before long, though, most people who are genuinely interested in their exercise processes will start to assimilate their own knowledge base, form or contribute to the formation of their own workouts, and think clearly about their exercise objectives. This is a HUGE win. The ability to do this will not only keep you safe and productive in the gym, it will also engage you at a deeper level and help you truly enroll yourself in your exercise process. In turn, you will then be more likely to adhere to that process and find greater levels of physical and other success in it.
Here are some simple ways to gain yourself some “real” exercise knowledge:
Consult with a Personal Trainer. A good Personal Trainer will set you on a path to success. If money is an issue, most gyms have introductory programs (eg. our Try 6! Pricing Options at Striation 6) that will allow to get time with a Personal Trainer with minimal cash at risk. If your gym tries to force you into a large Personal Training package, turn around and run the other way! Especially in a city the size of Toronto, there are so many options for Personal Training out there. Explore them!
YouTube. I say this hesitantly in that everyone has a voice on YouTube, including exercise charlatans and, frankly, morons who just want people to notice them. And, yes, those people exist in the exercise and fitness industry. However, YouTube does have some great resources for real exercise knowledge. As a start, check out the YouTube channels from Striation 6, The Resistance Training Specialist Program, and Ben Pakulski’s MI40 Gym.
Avoid Instagram for exercise advice at all costs. Trust me, it’s a good rule of thumb. Beautiful bodies and inspirational transformation stories are great. Overall, however, Instagram is an awful resource for real exercise knowledge.
“Real” Exercise Confidence
I have alway found confidence to be such an attractive trait; in the gym, at work, in friends, and in romantic relationships. To me, it is so attractive because it transcends any other personality or physical attributes. If anything, it stands attractively alone while also supporting physical, emotional, and spiritual beauty. In that regard, I also find confidence hard to describe. What does it look like? How does it come out in speech? More importantly in this context, how does a person’s confidence show itself in the gym? Here are some ways you can recognize “real” exercise confidence in yourself and others:
Focused eyes. Confident exercisers are wholly internalized during their workouts. Their eyes are looking at nothing in particular, except maybe their exercise tools of choice, their training journals, or the floor. They don’t care to notice who is in the gym with them or what workouts those people are performing. They may not make eye contact with you, except for a brief smile of friendly acknowledgement.
Quiet intensity. Those same people with the focused eyes will also likely show their real exercise confidence with a quiet form of intensity. You might hear some focused, heavy breathing, see some intense facial expressions, or notice the occasional, subdued grunt from them. But, their noise volume will never compete with yours. Put yourself near these people. They likely know what they are doing, and are likely friendly enough to engage with you and help you on your path to exercise success . . . once they have finished with their own business in the gym.
They avoid trends. Trends in exercise wax and wane like trends in fashion and other areas. People with real exercise confidence will tend to stay up to date with the latest trends and information from the exercise world. However, they will also use their knowledge and experience to filter the bunk from the genuine, useful information. You will not see people with real exercise confidence wasting their time and putting their bodies at risk for trends.
If not now, for whatever reason, then whenever you can self-ascribe the trait of real exercise confidence, you most definitely call yourself a success in the gym, no matter where you are in your physical exercise process.
Passing It On
Imagine it: you started out in exercise to lose weight. And, you’ve lost that weight, you’ve got a super hot body, and you actually feel good about how you look. Seems a bit vague or arbitrary, right? Now imagine this: in addition to weight-loss and looking good, you can overwhelmingly say that you’ve achieved that goal in a slow, healthy way. You know that means it is more likely to stay off for good and that you are now working better inside as well as looking good on the outside. And, you didn’t just get to the gym - you got there consistently so that along with your modified nutrition habits for weight loss (link), your muscles and joints feel and function better. That betterness was enabled by your persistence in finding and utilizing genuine exercise knowledge. And, on top of that, your workouts are that of the quiet, focused, CONFIDENT exercise person! Exercising is now no longer an intimidating chore that you have to do to look better at the friggin disco. It is now a meaningful, enriching, holistically healthy part of your life. Here’s how to ensure that you keep it that way and keep yourself enrolled in it for the rest of your life - three simple words: PASS IT ON. Share your success stories and these glorious feelings of success with your family and friends. Invite them to the gym with you; answer their questions; point them in the direction of the resources that best helped you become the monster exercise success that you are today! Don’t worry - your genuine knowledge and confidence will come off to others as helpful and loving, not superficial or egotistical.
I believe that as human beings we find our best success in any context when we use our genuine experience to help others. Doing so helps us rise to something greater than ourselves. And, that connection to the greater good grounds us in foundations of success that are nearly impossible to break. Passing exercise on to your kids, friends, colleagues, and family makes you an abundant success in exercise at every stage of your gym journey.