Follow The Leader…

Information overload…

When I design a workout or an eating plan for a student, I don’t make it complicated.  I draw from just a few scientifically proven principles, and on experiences that I have had with previous clients.   I may also draw from experiences other trainers in the fitness community have shared with me.  However, I won’t go too far with any of it because I believe basics work, and for most that’s all they require.

That said, getting people to follow even basic directions can be the most challenging part of leadership.  Too often people want advanced information from their primary instruction.

It's eating vegetables, and exercising.  It's not rocket science...

It’s eating vegetables, and exercising. It’s not rocket science…

A majority of people won’t require all the available information in the realm of physiology, any more than they will require all the available data from the university level.  Nor will they require a complicated framework or routine. However, week in and week out this seems to be what they want – the latest and greatest.

I think that’s where leadership in fitness gets it wrong more often than not.  Leaders attempt to give the student the latest and greatest, before the student masters the basics.  This in part, because it’s what the student asks for, but also because the trainer wishes to demonstrate intelligence and superiority, if not validity.

The information we gather as leaders in fitness does not all need to be pumped into the veins of our students.

One step at a time…

I was Skyping with an online client over the weekend.  During the conversation I recalled a home I lived in for many years.   It was large condominium, just under 2,000 square feet.  I occupied just one room of that home.  In that room there was an air mattress I slept on, and a desk for my computer.  Aside from that, I owned no furniture, and only passed through the empty living room and dining room on my way to the kitchen.

At the time I lived there my daughter was a teenager.  It occurred to me one day that my daughter and I didn’t spend a great deal of time at my house.  I mean, what could we ever do there except watch videos on my computer while sitting on an air mattress…?  Needless to say, we hung out elsewhere.

One week when she was 14 I decided to buy some furniture in hopes that I could foster more time together with her at my home.  Since I was on a budget most of the furniture I bought required assembly which means each piece came with directions.

I’m a guy, I don’t do directions.  Of course never following directions has led me to more failures than successes when assembling things, and more cursing than smiling.  This was my home I was talking about, and a part-time bedroom for my daughter.  I wanted to do this right.

Step.  Step.  Step.  Step.  Pretty simple formula.  I wonder why so many fail to follow...

Step. Step. Step. Step. Pretty simple formula. I wonder why so many fail to follow…

As I embarked on assembling a house full of furniture; tables, beds, curtain rods, chairs, shelves, etc., I decided that following the directions would be primary in the process.  With each table, each shelf, and each curtain rod, I followed the directions precisely.  And son of a bitch, after a weekend of reading information, and assembling it as instructed – one step at a time, I had a house full of furniture.

Directions in fitness…

It’s pretty simple.  Whether they come from me, a trainer in your gym, or from a well authored book, most directions are usually clear.  Follow them.  Understand each step before you take it.  Complete each step the very best of your ability.  Proceed to the next step.  Each time one instruction is completed; a meal is prepared, a repetition is completed, an exercise is finished, it is a mile marker on the road to the completed project.

Sometimes it's really a good idea to follow directions...

Sometimes it’s really a good idea to follow directions…

Despite how many times I have handed simple, easy to follow directions to students, I know more often than not they will accept them and never look at them again – especially in the area of eating.  Accept the plan.  Commit to the plan.  Follow the plan.  If you get confused, call the 800 number at the bottom of the plan.  Whether you’re putting together a new coffee table, or a new you, following the directions will lead you to a much better outcome than doing it on your own.  Be well.  rc


Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I hit the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from  Sonnybones.  Enjoy…

10 responses

  1. I continue to appreciate all fitness professionals like yourself who value the importance of the basic fundamentals. I study you guys. Always. This is how I learn and keep myself anchored. I refuse to be sucked into the fads.

  2. What else is there to say! 🙂 I see it to often or read it too often as well.. AND on the cross fit & functional fitness – not that I did not know this already but the experts are now saying not the best for people cause they try too much or do things too much before learning the right way & thus injure themselves so now.. they recommend my type of workout. Cracks me up! 😉

  3. For years I thought fitness is something I always fail at and just added to a “less than” approach to fitness, and a MAJOR contributor of giving up. A key for me has been “Understand each step before you take it. Complete each step the very best of your ability”.
    It’s not about fad’s or the type of workout or the instructions given….it boils down to learning to slow down and master the littlest of little steps before moving on. As adults I think we forget that. We expect our bodies just to respond because we want them to and when they don’t in our expected time frame we consider ourselves failures.
    In my opinion, that is the biggest misconception of the fitness industry whether it is a fad or just the basics. It is almost always about weight loss…fitness = weight loss or weight control. Calories in – calories out . Fitness professionals who focus on mastery of a step no matter how little calories it burns will be most successful because they build on the confidence and mental capacity to accomplish overcoming intimidation. They learn to be self sufficient in their own mastery of movements!
    Awesome post…as usual

  4. I’m the annoying trainee (and patient) who asks questions and who wants to understand everything! LOL Trainers and doctors are no less vulnerable than their human counterparts to weird fads, so I take everything with a grain of salt.
    It’s MY body and MY health, after all.

    If you pay attention, you quickly know who’s professional and who’s just following trends, trainers, doctors or others. I know who I trust (and who I don’t) 🙂 Generally speaking, anything too rigid makes me skeptical.

    Some underlying principles can lead to “interesting” directions, e.g. the trainer who wants you to consume more protein and less sugar… and you end up eating more pepperoni, less fruit!!!

    What I have learned in training and nutrition is that consistency rules. Adopt good habits for the long run and you will get results. 🙂

  5. This one has sat in my inbox a few days. I didn’t intentionally avoid reading it for that long, but now that I finally get around to absorbing its content…I wonder if it was my subconscious feeling guilty? Shouldn’t be that hard for me to make small steps. I’m getting there. Slowly but slowly. 🙂

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