Are you wasting your time in the gym?

Are you wasting your time in the gym?

Last week, I wrote a post on the Kohler effect of motivation, which says that training in a group can increase motivation by up to 200%.  Amazing!  Well, the study also shows that most of those motivation (and performance) increases happen when we work out with someone who’s just a little “better” than we are.  For example, maybe they can lift a little more weight, run a little faster, and do just a few more burpees.  The flip-side of the Kohler theory is that when you work out next to someone who is equal or a bit less fit than you are, you may end up not being as motivated.  You may not go as fast or lift as much weight or do as many burpees as you would if you worked out next to someone who is more fit.  What the theory identifies is that most, if not all, of us needinspiration!  The energy of other human beings can be unbelievably inspiring!  I’m pointing this out because I just had an experience that reinforced my belief in the importance of motivation and inspiration in helping us get the most out of our workouts.
 
Here's what happened:  we just got a new Assault AirBike in the gym.  It’s a bike that forces the use of the upper and lower body at the same time.  You might recognize this “fan bike” from your grandmother’s garage, but the one we have in the gym is a “souped-up” version that measures every metric you can think of; it also feels like you're riding a tank.  Unlike grandma’s bike, the Assault bike is made of welded steel and has a giant fan for a front wheel with big, heavy metal blades, rather than the plastic blades like the older version. 
 
I can tell you from personal experience – the benefits of training on an Assault AirBike are tremendous!  I designed a workout on the bike, and along with the other coaches in the gym, we gave it a test run.  Now, I’ve never smoked a pack of cigarettes and then sprinted 400 meters, but my guess is that it would feel like you've worked out on an Assault bike. My legs were numb, my lungs were burning, and I was laying face up on the floor like a piece of sizzling turkey bacon. I thought to myself, this is great!  I can’t wait to get everyone else in the gym to experience the same thing.  The next day, when I presented the new bike to some clients that might gravitate toward biking or rowing, I was shocked when nobody seemed to have the same experience I did on the bike.  Was it just me?  Was I just really bad on that bike?  I went from being excited about the bike to wanting to return it.  Then I had a thought:  I think people need me to show them what they can actually do on the bike, so I asked a client to try it out and bike 10 calories in a minute.  She looked at me like I was crazy!  (People often look at me that way.) I ignored her and said calmly….”3,2,1 GO!”  She did it.  10 calories in a minute.  She was out of breath, but not where I knew she should be.  “You can do 12 Calories in a minute.”  Now she looked at me like she hated me.  (Again, it happens all the time.)  “3,2,1 GO!” Again, she did it.  I could see we were getting somewhere, but we hadn’t quite arrived.  I knew she could do 15 calories in a minute.  “You’re going for 15 calories this time, because you can do it, “ I told her.  This time she didn't even look at me.  She just put a white-knuckle grip on the handle bars, put her head down, and readied herself for the challenge.  I knew this time she was going to reach her max --  she was going to go to the edge and maybe a little beyond.  She was going to a place that she didn’t know she could go, but I was assuring her she was going to be just fine.  “3,2,1, GO!”  She was on it.  I stood by her side the entire time, supporting her, coaching her, and cheering her on.  She barely made it, but she did it!  Off the bike, onto the floor, gasping for air, with a half-smile on her face partly from the rush of endorphins and partly because of the sense of accomplishment, and mostly because it was over.  As soon as she was able, she looked up and said those magic words.  “I could never have done that without someone pushing me.”
 
So here’s what I’m telling you: don’t be afraid to push yourself past the outer-most margins of what you’ve experienced in the gym in the past.  This is where your adaptation lies.  This is where you loseweight, get stronger, build endurance and reach your personal records.  The only way to get there is to push past where you think you can go.  Be willing to be uncomfortable.  
 
You may already know you could push yourself a little harder, but you should also know that we can help you do it.  Not by yelling at you and setting unrealistic goals, but by encouraging you and believing in you.  You would be surprised to learn what it feels like to have someone help you find your personal max, your heaviest back squat, your fastest speed on the treadmill, the best version of your pull-up.  Once you know you can actually run at 9mph, when you’ve been running at your perceived max of 8mph for a long time, then you can break through and make the changes you really want.  And breaking through feels great!  The coaches can help -- this is what we do.
 
I encourage those of you who’ve been working out at Fit for awhile to do an honest self-assessment.  Are you pushing yourself?  Have you plateaued? Don't let yourself stagnate!  If you want (or need) a jump-start, schedule a 30-minute personal training session with one of our coaches, designed to show you exactly how you should be training, what loads you should be lifting, and how fast you should be running.  Email Mia at mia@fittc.com.
 
See you in the gym!
 
Aaron