We are convinced that a good majority of people that have stepped foot into our studio and decided to become clients of ours was not solely because of our knowledge of health and fitness or our expertise in form correction or nutrition. No, the biggest reason they came to me was because they were sick of working out alone and were desperate for a consistent, reliable, and knowledgeable workout partner.
Personal trainers in our mind are the perfect workout partners. We’re very familiar with exercise and fitness, we can create and rearrange fitness plans anywhere, we’re always at the gym and can meet up with you anytime, we do everything we can to keep you motivated and focused, and most importantly we ensure that you actually get results! To us it’s a no-brainer that everyone should have a personal trainer but we know that not everyone is in a position to hire one. And sometimes you have no choice but to go at it alone.
We’ll be the first to tell you that you’re not alone and that we feel your pain. Sometimes, working out alone is a good thing and quite enjoyable as you can use it as a time to be by yourself and do your own thing. But we know that after a while it can get quite lonely and it can become a real struggle to keep consistent and focused.
If you are working out alone now or are about to embark on doing so it’s important to be aware of the struggles that you will face so that you can hopefully overcome them and continue to progress. Here are the struggles most people face when working out alone and also here are some tips on what us personal trainers to do help counter those struggles.
Struggle #1 – Keeping Yourself Accountable.
You may be able to keep things on a straight path for a while but eventually life catches up and throws a couple curve balls at you; making it more and more difficult to find the time and discipline to keep accountable to your fitness plan. When you know that there is nobody waiting for you at the gym or that there are no repercussions to skipping a workout the enticement to skip a day every so often becomes harder and harder to resist. Skipping one day may seem like no big deal but it never just ends there, it turns into multiple days spread out over time and then eventually you skip multiple days in a row. Then after you’ve missed so many days that you’re no longer seeing the results you wanted you end up just giving up until “life” gets a little less hectic (who are you kidding? Life NEVER gets less hectic).
Struggle #2 – The Little Voice in Your Head.
Let’s say you were able to overcome the urge to skip your workout today and have made it to the gym. But you’re feeling a little tired today and you’ve got so much work to get done before tomorrow and all you really want to do is lie on the couch and catch up on some work and maybe, if you’re lucky, some R&R. So you start to tell yourself you’ll just do a quick and easy workout, nothing that will “over” exhaust you and you’ll get home early to get started on that “really important” work and then veg-out for a little while before going to bed. So you take it easy for the workout and move on. The next day is busy again and you’re feeling tired again so you start to have that same conversation with yourself. And most likely you give in, again. Notice a trend? Guess where that leads… back to no progress and a huge reduction in your motivation to continue your fitness plan.
Struggle #3 – Going the Extra Mile.
We think that it’s safe to say that if you are already struggling with finding the motivation to even show up to the gym then you’re definitely going to have a hard time finding the motivation to really push yourself hard when you finally do go. But let’s say that you aren’t having a motivation problem, right now, and that you’re getting yourself to the gym on a fairly regular basis. Are you doing just what’s asked of you or are you doing those things that just make you “feel good”? Or are you really pushing the envelope and taking yourself out of your comfort zone and forcing your body to get stronger? Chances are you’re just doing enough to get by and leave the gym feeling good only to miss out on making some real improvements by pushing yourself just a little bit harder that day.
Struggle #4 – Sharing Your Success.
Ever been in that situation where you were really focused and diligent with completing a project and actually saw some real results, only to go home or to work the next day to tell the one’s you’re close to about it and get the responses like “cool” or “that’s nice”? It’s a bummer when people don’t share your excitement about something, I know. Sometimes it’s really nice to share your success with people who are there or have been there before and can really get excited with you. We are social animals and we feed off each other’s excitement, so when you don’t get the enthusiasm you were hoping from those close to you it can be somewhat of a buzz-kill and make it harder to strive for more success.
Stuggle #5 – Being Self-Biased. Facing Your Fears.
This struggle is a real doozey because it’s a struggle that most people who are consistently working out alone don’t even realize they’re going through it. Many times we have met with people who have come to me because no matter how many times they go to the gym they can’t seem to lose those last couple of pounds or that they have plateau’d completely and can’t figure out why. For us it usually doesn’t take much time for me to figure out why. As humans we are all naturally biased towards things we like and we avoid things that we don’t like. So in these people’s cases they are being consistent with their workouts but they are constantly doing the same things over and over again because that is what they “like” and what they are “comfortable” with. Within one workout we can usually show them just how lopsided they have been with their training and they were never even aware. Their bodies have become so used to the routine that they were in that it no longer was “work”. A few changes to their routine and we’re able to get some good progress going for them again.
Ok now that we’ve gone over the struggles of working out alone, here are some helpful tips that we personal trainers like to use to help keep our clients coming back for more.
Motivation Tip #1 – Keep a Workout Journal.
Here at our studio we write down everything that we do with our clients. We keep track of what exercises we did for how many sets, how many reps, and how much weight we used. We do this so that can keep track of where our clients are at and so that we can find ways to increase volume, intensity, and keep their programs varied so that we are always making progress. Writing and keeping your own journal can help you stay focused and aware of what you’re are doing, and more importantly what you are not doing.
Motivation Tip #2 – Make a Schedule
Life gets can get busy and sometimes out of control… if you let it. Instead of trying to fit gym time in your schedule on the fly or whenever you feel you “have the time” will not work. You need to treat your workouts as if they are appointments that you actually set time aside for BEFORE everything else with work and life fill up your schedule.
Motivation Tip #3 – Create Goals You Can Track
The most common goals that people create are weight loss and muscle gain. While these are nice goals we don’t think these are what you should solely be focused on as they can be a little too long term. With our clients we try to set what we call weekly action goals. For instance, your weekly action goal should be to go to the gym three times each week with two cardio sessions. If you meet these goals on a consistent basis you will have a much better chance of being successful at your more long term goal of losing weight or gaining muscle.
Motivation Tip #5 – Reward Yourself
Typically people look at getting into fitness and nutrition plans as nothing but depriving yourself of anything good or enjoyable. That is simply not true, if you follow your plan diligently and you meet your goals you should reward yourself. However, by rewarding yourself we mean having a meal that you love that you know isn’t the healthiest or by going out for drinks with friends. We don’t mean have a complete binge fest of a weekend eating out and drinking everywhere you go. Just a simple treat to give yourself some extra enjoyment without completely ruining the progress you’ve made.