When you picture a Personal Trainer working with someone who is in the early stages of creating a significant lifestyle change, you would typically imagine a lot of tellings off and lectures.
Correcting someone when they do it wrong.
Giving them an ear bashing when they make mistakes.
People picture this Sergeant Major persona who is blasting people and making their lives a misery.
But actually, I find it is the opposite I spend a lot of my time coaching people to stop being so hard on themselves.
Weight loss, how to be a success
Yes we need to be strict, we need to get active and we need to start making changes to our diet in order to achieve weight loss.
But, at the end of the day this is all new to you. Changing your diet has the potential to be tricky as you are cutting down on some of your favourite foods or foods that you have come to rely on quite heavily.
And learning to train or learning a new activity such as walking, swimming or running is going to be hard to start with just because it is new. It can also be very intimidating.
I will get into some of the detail in some upcoming blogs, but today I just want to discuss the gym environment.
As I have said before, a lot of the Gyms and Exercise Environments are not geared towards people who are very new to exercise. They promote excellence, maximal strength and maximal performance. This is great for those people who are at that stage but the truth is it is intimidating as hell for people who are not familiar with exercise.
People who have quite a lot of weight to lose and are at a stage where they want to change, are going to be feeling a bit vulnerable. They are probably feeling a bit self conscious or embarrassed to start with.
They come in with this perception of how fitness is supposed to look and they perceive themselves as not achieving that. They hold themselves up in comparison to the six packs and the muscles, and it makes them feel bad. So they end up either stopping, or they let it become a very negative experience. This may all happen before they even get to the gym, they may perceive this as the case and it may stop them getting started in the first place.
When someone comes in to start training one of the first things I point out is that we are where we are.
WE KNOW we have some changes to make.
WE KNOW we aren't as fit as we could be.
WE KNOW we are going to feel tired to start with.
This isn't about making that person feel bad. It is about normalising those emotions, telling them:
IT IS OKAY to be new at this
IT IS OKAY to feel knackered
IT IS OKAY to feel uncomfortable
IT IS OKAY to sweat
IT IS OKAY to want to stop
IT IS OKAY to start with a light weight
IT IS OKAY to not know how to do something
No one is judging them, no one is comparing them and the last person who should be judging them is themselves.
Starting new lifestyle changes are tricky because these new changes are going to be uncomfortable to start with.
We expect that degree of discomfort but it is about softening that blow, making it as comfortable as possible.
What we are looking to do is remove that palpable fear, remove the reason for that avoidance of the active environment.
As you get started your confidence will start to increase as you gain familiarity with what you are doing.
I will use an example I often use with my clients.
I will demo an exercise, lets say we are doing a box squat. So I am stood in front of a box and I sit down on to it under control and then I stand back up. If the person is in the right place we may do it with a small dumbbell or kettlebell, but all we are interested in is getting them using their leg muscles. If a squat isn't right for this person we might use a step up instead.
So I've demoed it, the client has a go and it's pretty good but not quite there.
"I'm rubbish at this! I knew I would be!"
What I say here is something along the lines of
"See that athlete on that poster? They train A LOT and are very specialised and very skilled in their specific area so they look very comfortable doing what they do. But imagine taking them to your work place, sitting them at your desk and getting them to do your job.
They would be unsure, self conscious, disorientated. They would be asking lots of questions. They would be making mistakes and feel very vulnerable.
This isn't because they are rubbish at something, it's just something very new and the environment they are in is now very uncomfortable and intimidating for them."
It doesn't matter what environment you use, the situation would be the same.
It is a brave thing to turn around your lifestyle. It is great that you have made the first step in making that decision but now you have to be patient with yourself and ease yourself in.
You'll do great, just be patient.