By Darren Floro-Bryant
I love working out. I love fitness. It makes me feel good. It is my reward to myself, my space to be myself. Working out and fitness helps me de-stress, and it is all mine. Whether it is weight training, jogging/running, yoga, or even walking, it is something that I consciously choose to do, and I choose to do it for me.
Working out, training, exercise, fitness – whatever you want to call it, is a choice, and it is not easy. The practice and the routine become somewhat easy, but it is always work. Sometimes it is enjoyable, but all of it is work and takes practice, patience, and a few other things that not many people consider.
Whenever I talk with a new client, a potential new client, a friend, or even an acquaintance about fitness or exercise, I always ask them to sit down with themselves and ask themselves what they want from their training. What they truly want. Not goals exactly, but what they want out of it. Some things I hear a lot: to get abs, to lose weight, to get a bigger chest or arms (or any body part), to squat more, to eat better, to look better naked, to feel better. Regardless of these examples, I then ask them if they are prepared for the work involved to get there?
I try to have a conversation with them about the journey and four specific topics. First, I talk with them about “give and take,” then I talk to them about forgiveness. I talk with them about self-acceptance. And I talk with them about failure.
When I talk with them about give and take, I try to help them understand that whatever they want, there will be something that they have to give themselves. Usually, that is the awareness that there is going to be work involved.
They also have to understand that with every give, they must take something away.
Wanting abs is a good example of this one. In order to get abs, the client is going to have to accept that there will be work involved in the form of exercise and food choices, and you are going to have to take away some food choices you’ve probably been making. This is not going to be easy, but these are things that must be considered if abs are truly the goal. If they’re not willing to put in the give AND take, they will need to ask themselves, “do they truly want abs?”
Forgiveness is a tough one to sell. Especially when it comes to forgiving one’s self. We are our own worst critics. I talk about forgiveness because we all stray from the path on occasion and understand that that is ok. It is much healthier and easier to find your way back once you understand and accept this.
Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight, but you find yourself out at a birthday party, and they start serving cake. You give in to temptation, and you decide to take the biggest piece. Rather than abandoning what you’ve been working towards, accept it, and move on. Or if this decision has sent you in a tailspin of bad choices, take a step back understand that this situation is now done and you cannot change it. What you can do is make decisions from that exact point in time to get yourself back on track by forgiving yourself. It is work, and sometimes work is hard.
When I talk with them about self-acceptance, I try to tie that in with forgiveness. They may seem like that same thing, but they are actually quite different. Like forgiveness, self-acceptance is also a hard sell, if not harder. Self-acceptance is a lot more than just how we see ourselves internally or in the mirror. Self-acceptance allows us to be present and confident with where we are on our fitness journey. It needs to be present when we are out in social situations, and there are tough decisions to make.
Let’s use the birthday party scenario again. This time it is just before they are about to serve the cake. You are serious about sticking to your goal, and you have been training regularly and watching what you eat. You get asked if you would like some cake… this is when the internal dialogue starts, but also the external chatter. If you choose to have cake, friends will probe you about your fitness journey, and some might try to guilt you for eating the cake. Conversely, if you choose NOT to have cake, people will comment and make you feel guilty about not eating the cake. Self-acceptance is now key. YOU get to make the choice. YOU get to have the power no matter what the choice. This is why forgiveness and self-acceptance are talked about together. It is your path, your journey, no one else’s. You don’t need to justify your decision to anyone but yourself.
Lastly, I talk with them about failure. I explain to my clients that they are making some pretty big changes in their life. I discuss with them that nothing is a failure, rather a stepping stone. I try to get them to see these as markers rather than failures. This allows you to reevaluate and think about how to change or grow.
Weight lifting is a good way to explain this. If a client wants to increase the weight they are pressing for a dumbbell bench press, I need to push them to the point of failure to know where they are at. Also, it helps me to evaluate their progress and potential. If we don’t have these “failures,” we never know how to improve and grow. Failure is an opportunity to pick ourselves back up again and find ways to move ahead.
Now, after discussing all of this with them, they can then start their journey. I work with them to continually tackle and reevaluate where they are at. I help them assess obstacles or bumps in the road they have encountered, to see how they handle them. It’s something I encourage them to revisit on a weekly or monthly basis.
Asking these questions and discussing these things with my clients helps them understand how personal and individual this journey is.
Working out or fitness is hard work and never stops being hard work. But it’s worth it, and I love connecting with my clients and friends about this. The point that I’ve gotten to now is that I like the hard work, and I revisit all of the questions I discuss with my clients or friends, with myself, to be able to relate.
Working out, training, exercise, fitness – whatever you want to call it, is a choice, and it is not easy. And even though it is hard work, I love working out. I love fitness. It makes me feel good. And it is fun! Every day I make this choice, and I love that I choose to do it for me. And I love seeing others choose this for themselves, as well.
Darren Floro-Bryant is originally from Ontario, Canada, but now lives and works in Atlanta, GA. Darren has worked as a certified Group Fitness Instructor, Fitness Coach, and Personal Trainer for more than 25 Years. Currently, he owns DFB Fitness and Foundation Fitness, operating out of Gravity Fitness.