The Biggest Secret… There Is No Secret
This post was written in early February of 2023.
We have just gotten through dealing with the New Year’s rush at our facility. And by ‘rush’, I mean the two weeks I spend at the beginning of every year trying to convince people (who are looking for the fitness ‘quick fix’) that our place isn’t right for them.
This year was the first time I started seeing criticism online of fitness facilities who choose to not participate in the New Year’s stampede. On the surface, these criticisms seem valid… they accuse facilities of shaming innocent people who are just trying to make some healthy changes in their lives.
I want to be clear that it is not our intention to do this to anyone. Our facility has built its name on becoming the antithesis of the quick-fix, crash-diet, crazy-workout culture that floods our market. In today’s post, I’d like to offer a gym owner’s take on the New Year’s resolution crowd and share with you the REAL secret to making long-term changes to your health.
New Year’s Resolutioner’s Long-Term Results
Since 2015, our facility has tracked virtually every metric about our student-base. I participated in a business coaching program back then that helped me set up all these systems. We track call logs, conversion rates, frequency of training, lifetime value of a client, training plans, birthdays, gym-anniversaries, etc. etc. You name it, we track it.
For the past eight years, with hundreds of people served, I can count on one hand the number of students who signed up in January and stayed with us for more than three months… while our average client tenure is almost three years. These are not good numbers, especially considering the sheer volume of new people every January.
With that being said, the few who did stick around… are AWESOME! These students have become some of my favorite people. Some have even become personal friends outside the gym.
Why Did They Leave?
I spose there could be a multitude of reasons. This is speculation… but one reason could be that our program simply doesn’t provide the “Rah! Rah! New year, new me!” program.
Maybe they discovered that it takes work… lots of work.
Maybe they just weren’t that into us…
Our place is unapologetically nerdy. We teach exercises as skills. We focus on long-term, sustainable progress. We hold people accountable. And I’m completely OK with someone who doesn’t find our style to be all that compelling, to find another place.
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nWhat To Do Instead?
For those seeking weight loss:
Financial expert Dave Ramsey has a program to get out of debt called the “Baby Steps.” He recommends paying off debt smallest to largest. Logically speaking, this is an inferior method. It would be mathematically more prudent to pay off debt with the highest interest rate first, then moving to lower interest rate debts and paying off the debt with the lowest rate last. The reason this seasoned financial coach doesn’t recommend this method is that he learned years ago that attaining financial freedom is 10% head knowledge and 90% emotional behavior. He realized that if someone can pay off a few small debts, they get to celebrate small victories early in the game.
This often provides the motivation to keep moving forward.
The same principles can be applied to those looking for weight loss as their primary goal. Don’t start in the gym. Instead, start in the kitchen. Hire a dietitian that focuses on habits, not diets.
Exercising off the extra pounds is the single hardest way to lose weight. However, small changes in eating habits can help an overweight person drop ten pounds in a heartbeat. A three to six month journey of nutritional habit changes can help you drop a significant amount of weight. Then, when you do start that exercise program (with your nutrition dialed in), it will significantly accelerate your progress.
For those seeking physical change:
To be clear, these are movement-related goals (not weight loss). This is the guy who is getting winded going up a flight of stairs or playing with the kids/grandkids. Would losing weight help?
Of course. But eating better won’t make you physically stronger.
In this situation, we start in the gym. Forget the ultra-intense crash course workout. Instead, focus on bodyweight movements… and progress slowly. At this stage of training, the individual’s body is too weak to oppose the forces of gravity. Any resistance exercises should be very carefully dosed and focused around natural movements like squats, lunges, presses, suspension trainer rows, etc. Risk of injury at this stage of training is exponentially high. Start with the “baby steps.”
The big secret is: There is no secret. Nothing takes the place of hard work.
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I’m now writing in late March 2023. I decided to wait until April to put this out. If you’re reading this and you made some resolutions in January, how did they turn out? If New Years isn’t your time for that sort of thing, when is? None of this stuff gets easier with age…
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”n
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, Asher.