A Failed Conversion…

I was approached by a man at a local coffee shop the other day. He and I had met briefly once fore. A conversation ensued between us. The man, knowing I am a fitness professional, asked if I was familiar with a nationally known multimedia fitness enterprise. The program in question is scientifically based and assures, if applied properly, an outcome of increased muscles mass and decreased body fat with just 15 minute workouts. The program calls for high intensity workouts, supported with a high fat, moderate protein and lower carbohydrate diet. I played dumb and told him I had never heard of it. I sensed immediately that I lost points in his mind for my ignorance.

As he explained the program to me, he suggested recruiting me and my facility as a resource where he could test and apply it. As we discussed this, it was clear that he had an intelligent grasp of the physiology and nutrition. I explained to him my own value-set when it comes to exercise, strength training in particular, and eating. I said nothing to debunk the science of the program he was advocating. I well understand the efficiency of high intensity training. I simply used more science, some logic and a smidge of experience to support my stance the high intensity training, despite the science behind it, might not be the best option for many most.


Still, he kept suggesting that I look at the website, the book, and the science behind this enterprise. He felt it might change my values and subscribe me to something better than what I am already teaching. He felt this high intensity program might also open a new world for me, for my clients, and for my business, and he was willing to be my guinea pig.

In truth, I am familiar with the program he was discussing, and I believe the science behind it is solid. Variations of high intensity training have been applied to many fitness enterprises over the past 15 years or so. I have practiced variations of them and taught some as well. Despite this, I have never bought completely into exclusively high intensity programs.

I gently let him know that my own fitness ideals are sum of many years of training, studying and practicing my craft, and that I wasn’t going to let go of those values regardless of the science behind what he was suggesting. It was clear that he saw me as a narrow minded buffoon who probably just takes people’s money in exchange for letting them go through the motions as I stare at my cell phone all day long. We exchanged business cards with what I’ll suggest was a mutual assurance that they will never see the light of day again.


I have been down this road with people many times. I am a very science minded person. When somebody approaches me about high intensity training I can tell at a glance whether they are sincere, if they understand how demanding that type of training can be, if they are capable of it, and if they truly understand the bleakness of the associated nutritional component. If they are, I absolutely know how to apply those principals for maximum results, and I have a track record of success stories which demonstrate my competence.

However, even proven science has to fit an individual’s body and lifestyle to be effective in the long-term – it has to work within the scope of a person’s life. I don’t care how sound the science is, many genres of high intensity training aren’t agreeable when superimposed over a less than fit body or a less than fit lifestyle. My firsthand experience has seen high intensity training push more people away from an exercise lifestyle than toward one. For many people, high intensity exercise isn’t fun, isn’t sustainable and won’t be the foundation of the lifestyle change they actually need.

I know there are exceptions to this; that’s where before and after pictures come from. However, for every before and after picture posted on a magazine or website, I’ll suggest there are tens of thousands of people who feel they gave money away in exchange for doubt, frustration, and perhaps even some humiliation – for buying into something they could not sustain or that never made sense to them to begin with.


All of this I can let go of because I have faced it many times, so I wasn’t disappointed that the man I spoke with had no interest and was unwilling to learn more about my own more moderate approach to fitness. What will remain with me though, in the foreground of my conscience, is that the man who approached me is an evangelical minister. Essentially he wanted to hire me away from my own faith that I might subscribe to his. When it became clear that I was unwilling to make that leap, he spoke to me as though I were a lost soul. And so it goes… rc


Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens with I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The London Souls. Enjoy!

6 responses

  1. I consider myself to be open minded and I enjoy researching different fitness and nutritional philosophies. There is very little that hasn’t worked for me over the years.
    In the end I believe as though I think you do Ray, that N=1 trumps science every time.
    And so it goes 🙂

    • Thank you, Linda, for dropping in and taking the time. My short take has always been this, those who like and enjoy high intensity training (I am one that does) will usually find their way to it, and not require a trainer to begin with…

  2. This discussion makes me think of the maxim, “There are many paths that lead to the top of the mountain,” which sounds fine initially. Those of us who have tried that mountain’s paths soon realize that although the path may lead there, most of us, for various reasons, can’t navigate every path successfully. The program that you discuss is one of those strewn with failures, while the program that you have been
    using for so long has a much more reliable summiting rate.

  3. Roy, I enjoy all of your conversations, however you or others may view them. In that vein, I’d like to give you my new email address: enest.ma10@gmail.com It’s sorta cluncky, or chunky, like myself, but nednet is saying goodbye providing email service. I hope you’re doing okay.. getting ready for the Bruce Lee of El Ninos, hopefully. Minus flooding or mudslides in your area. in peace and comfort, Marianne (Hill)

  4. Ultimately what is it one wants or needs to out of their workout and or what lifestyle do they want to live.Which path do they want to take. For many it’s the path of least resistance,they want instant results.Intensity burns many out. That man had his own agenda. Our Native Americans were fine in their own world,with spiritual beliefs,dance,art,music. The along came Johnny missionary trying to convert and save them.You remember my resignation with my company of 16 years.after I was challenged by a mngr. on my religious beliefs. How I got sick,due to my faith not being strong enough and my church was not spirit filled enough….. Give me a break,get outta my face….. Thank you for this story. And keep doing what you’re doing,nice and steady proven results.

  5. So with you Roy! Like DR. J said – many ways to get somewhere BUT that high intensity – those are the ones with injuries & such young in life. Yes, I have knee issues no but I have been at this many many many years on top of bad feet & over over pronation! 🙂

    Find what works for you. No one way BUT there are better ways… 🙂

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