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No One Talks To You More Than You Do. Be Careful With Your Words - Tucson Personal Training Blog

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No One Talks To You More Than You Do. Be Careful With Your Words - Tucson Personal Training Blog

By: Jerry Trubman, Owner and Founder

Although we don’t do this sort of thing often, we decided to run a summer special this year. It brought a lot of new faces into our doors, which is great. When working with a group of new people, I get the opportunity to see what I call, “new people problems.” You may think I’m referring to various physical limitations, but this isn’t the case… which is the subject of today’s post. Enjoy!

In an effort to maintain the quality of our product, as well as give people (especially new ones) the best experience possible, every new student comes into our system with a small handful of private sessions to help them get started learning the skills we teach (we don’t allow drop-ins other than rowing and mobility classes).

This serves one of several purposes: First, and most importantly, it reduces injury risks. The chance of a new person hurting themselves in the first few fitness classes is exponentially high. They’re moving their body in ways that it hasn’t moved in either a long time, or ever. There is a period of adaptation required here and we need to ease in slow.

I remember a number of years ago, before I had my own place, I was talking to a gym owner about training some people in his facility. As he was taking me around and showing me the gym, he casually mentioned that at any given moment, about 20% of the people who train there are walking around injured in some way (I won’t tell you the name of his chosen fitness modality, but I’m sure you can take a wild guess). This is simply unacceptable. My favorite injury rate is zero, and if my fitness program was causing 20% of my students to be injured at any given moment, I would seriously call my programming into question… but I digress.

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Most people don’t come to us in the greatest shape. A few private sessions allow us to ramp them up into training again (so the first class doesn’t kill them). If you’re a trainer and not doing this in your facility, I highly recommend it. It’s a win-win: It’s good for the student, and it’s good for your retention rates. In these sessions you we get to see what’s really going on with them in a more controlled setting, as opposed to throwing them into a class and seeing if they sink or swim.

We have a structured way of taking people through these initial sessions… and there are a lot of instructions regarding the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ we do things the way we do. It’s usually around the third or fourth private lesson that I start to see signs whether someone will become a long-term student in our facility, or fizzle out quickly. There are basically two things:

  • Do they have the heart of a student?
  • Do they have the mindset of CAN?

The first one is easy: I can’t teach anything to someone who already ‘knows everything’ or has no desire to learn. If they just want to go to a place to leave sweat puddles on the floor (form and technique be damned), they won’t like it here. In these cases, I highly recommend a sauna. It produces the same effect, and is much safer than beating your body into the ground using poor exercise habits, all in the name of getting ‘in shape’.

The second one, although more subtle, becomes a huge determiner of where someone will go in their fitness journey. I can hear it in their words…

“I just don’t know if I can do that.”

“This is hard!”

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do a class.”

Or the simple, “I can’t.”

The number of times in my career I’ve heard someone say, “I can’t” and then immediately proceed to do that exact thing they thought they couldn’t do is simply incredible, and at the same time, depressing.

In the world of serious strength training, there is a universal truth that all of us have come to learn: It was best said by Paul McIlroy (founder of the Amazing 12 and seriously strong individual), “Strength isn’t built, it’s granted by your nervous system.”

What does he mean by that? Let’s use a simple analogy: We’ll take a home stereo for example. The stereo receiver receives the signal from the source (iPod, FM radio, whatever), the speakers make those signals audible to the human ear, and between the signal source, stereo receiver, and the speakers are wires that carry the sound from points A to B to C (most of us are using Bluetooth now, but just play along).

In the above-mentioned analogy, the signal source represents your brain, the receiver/amplifier represents the neural generators (the biggest ones are the abs, glutes, and grip) via breath/tension, the speakers represent your muscles, and the wires represent your nervous system.

It doesn’t matter how big your muscles are, how hard you can perform the Valsalva maneuver, or how tough you think you are… the nervous system calls the shots. If it’s simply not up to the task that day (for a variety of reasons, most of them involving some sort of fatigue or stress), it will shut you down in a heartbeat. If you don’t believe me, try to do a one-rep max after an unusually stressful day at the office, even if you did eat/sleep well, and see how it goes.

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Now, here’s the other important part, let’s say the muscles are well developed, and the nervous system is as fresh as a newborn baby, there’s still a critically important missing component here: It doesn’t matter how good the speakers are, and how thick the speaker wires are, you will still not get to enjoy the music if you’re getting a poor signal from the iPod.   

If the only thing important in training was muscles, things would be a lot easier, and everyone doing random acts of stupidity in the gym would be walking around with the body of their dreams. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. There is huge mental component to training that is just too important to overlook.

Although heavily overused, Henry Ford’s quote was spot on, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Mindset is absolutely critical to training… and life for that matter. If you can’t get your mind right, nothing else will follow. Also, you won’t be allowed to train in our facility. Our gym is too small and we can’t afford the cancer that your stinkin’ thinkin’ causes on others.

I guarantee that as you read this, someone who is older, fatter, less genetically gifted, etc. etc. is still out there getting after it… simply because they KNOW they can instead of thinking they can’t.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached "Team Protocol" to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife Marie and dog Sadie. To subscribe to his blog, click here.

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