What Personal Training Taught Me About Success

The health and fitness world is an interesting place. Since I’ve started training and teaching classes at 15 years old, I’ve seen a lot of amazing transformations and a lot of, umm, interesting things.

It’s the perfect industry to learn about success in life. As in life, there is usually a clear-cut goal (look better, feel better, and/or perform better), and quasi-clear steps on how to achieve those goals. Here’s the objective, here are the steps, now, make moves. Yet, just like fitness, we can get caught up in nonsense that distracts and deludes us.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you move towards your goals in fitness and life.

Big Rocks

My man, Dr. Jade uses the analogy of filling up a bucket to achieve your goals. What’s going to fill your bucket up faster: big rocks, pebbles, or individual grains of sand?

Don’t get all weird & scientific with it, the correct answer is the big rocks.

Now, to have a full bucket, ideally, you’d put in your 3-4 large rocks, then a few handfuls of pebbles, and then the sand to fill the gaps. Too often we focus on our sand and pebbles like they’re equal to the big rocks. They’re not.

Should I do Crossfit or P90X? How many grams of sodium should I be consuming? Do you think paddle board yoga will work for me? Which vegetables should I be eating? These are all small pebbles in the game of fitness. It doesn’t matter how you move if you sit most of the day, just move! Sodium doesn’t matter when you don’t have any protein in your diet. Don’t even get me started on paddle board yoga..

How about just eliminating soda, moving anyway and anywhere, and getting more sleep every night? 

The thing about big rocks is that they usually make the pebbles and sand a lot easier to get. Charles Duhig, author of The Power of Habit writes about Keystone Habits – habits that lead to other habits. For example, when you start exercising, you naturally start eating better, stressing less, and become more productive. This leads to better work and better relationships. 

My mom always says that “If you can get two out of your big three in life working for you, then things are pretty good.” 

She says her things are her work, her children, and her relationship. If she can have 2/3 those going well at any given time then she’s pretty happy. Those are her big rocks. Mine are my career, relationships, and health. What are yours? And for goodness sakes stop standing one-footed on a BOSU ball while bouncing a medicine ball at the gym. Squat, push up, dead lift, call it a good day. 

Small Wins

Big Rocks, Small Wins, I know, It’s all very confusing. But stay with me.

In my life, I’m all about the small wins. Did I write a single blog post today? Did I track my expenses today? As the billionaire business mogul Charlie Munger says, “Are you going to bed a little wiser than you were the day before?”

Although we all want to be like Drake and go 0 to 100 real quick (Chef Curry with the pot, boy!), that’s not how change works. In the training world, we take our clients, who live a completely different lifestyles than us, and try to conform them into our world. It’s a tough task. 

As personal trainers, most of the day is spent on our feet, everybody around us pounds chicken and broccoli, and our flexible schedule (and considering our office contains barbells and stair mills) always enables us to get a workout in.

The biggest flaws in both trainers and clients is the all-or-nothing approach. Somebody comes into the gym looking for some training, you’re excited, they’re excited, so we make a grandiose plan. Track all your food so we can completely transform your diet, work out with me 3-days per week, here are your other workouts for the 3-4 days of the week we’re not together, go to bed earlier, stop this, add that, you’re no longer permitted to use the bathroom with that form, etc.

With training, as in life, we need to focus on better, not becoming perfect. 

We use a ladder because we can’t jump onto a roof. We use stairs to climb up to the nosebleed seats in Cowboys stadium. We need to use small wins to get to our goals. We need to take small steps on our Big Rocks.

Also See: 6 Tips For More Willpower & Self Control 

Fall In Love With The Process

Three of my most successful clients I’ve ever had, Scott, EJ & Swaim, all had one thing in common. They all fell in love with the process. All three of them started coming to the gym to lose some weight, and all three of them kept coming because it became bigger than that. It became a part of their weekly routine. 

Swaim and EJ came together to sweat, laugh, and catch up. It was a social event for them, like Wednesday night bingo or Thirsty Thursday, but with exercise.

Scott use to come in the morning to sweat and talk Fantasy Football strategy. It was part of his morning routine. It was something he had to do before work, like his morning cup of coffee.

We have to find ways to actually enjoy the activity otherwise there’s no chance for success. For me, working out is meditative. I love sweating, and checking myself out in the mirror (along with every other dude on the bench press), and bumping some throwback T.I. in my headphones. 

During my recent interview with Emily Miner she said, “You have to fall in love with the process and change from an outcome oriented mindset to an action oriented one.” It’s a great point. If we can find ways to make the actual activity meaningful to us, then we will be successful.

Make your work more meaningful by setting daily goals (example: learn 3 things in this meeting I have to be at). Pay off your credit card by making a bet with your friends who can pay it off quicker. Challenge your significant other to drink 4 liters of water per day. How can you make daily tasks fun and engaging?

The similarity between training and life have always interested me, and I’ve often noticed the same patterns of success between the two. Focus on your Big Rocks, Small Wins, and having a good time along the way, and success will come.

Okay, so now that I’ve shared my lessons with you, I want you to share your Big Rocks with me. Leave a comment below with your 3 Big Rocks of Life. You only get three, so choose wisely. 


1 thought on “What Personal Training Taught Me About Success

  1. Camilla Reply

    I’m going to have to go with health and studying for a standardized test, don’t think I can even handle a third right now =D

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