There are many times that I’m certain my words will get me fired from my job as a fitness coach. Taken out of context, some of the things I say to my clients would certainly raise some eyebrows. Recently, I said eight letters, three words to a client that would certainly fall under the “outside of my scope as a trainer” umbrella. I told a client, “I love you.” *Cue the dramatic music as the audience gasps* It’s true, I love my clients. I don’t have a favorite, all of my clients are completely different from one another. But, I love them all for the same reasons. In each of my clients, I see a human being that has made a conscious decision to take control of their fitness level. We don’t lose our health with old age, instead we give it away throughout our lives with the unhealthy choices that we make.
There are times when my clients will scream, cuss, cry, call out for Jesus, or tell me that they hate me. I embrace the four agreements, so I don’t take (most) things personally. I get it. I recognize the catharsis behind their words and actions and it makes me love my clients even more. We all have a choice. We have a choice to step up to challenges and gain strength or we can accept what’s in front of us and choose not to take charge of our fitness level. We can choose to be any BODY that we want. Trust me, before you start listing the excuses, I’ve heard most of them and used the rest of them myself.
Love who you are and grow stronger from there. In daily interactions, I’d love to see more body faming and less body shaming. Shouldn’t it be easier to see the beauty in ourselves and others than it is to find reasons for critique and judgment? I love my clients for making the choice to not judge themselves (too harshly) and committing to a new challenge in their lives. “Jet, you don’t know your clients very well. We judge ourselves all of the time!” That may be true. But, perhaps it’s the raised serotonin levels from the workout. When I see my clients sweating and smiling, I see self love manifest. I see someone that doesn’t want to fall victim to hereditary diseases. I see someone that recognizes the relationship between body composition and life expectancy. (Quick note on BMI, ignore it. BMI is an outdated metric used by insurance companies to make denying coverage easier. BMI doesn’t take a lot of other deciding factors-BF% for one-into consideration. So, at 5’11”, 195 pounds and 10% body fat, BMI will list a person as overweight.) In my clients, I see a human being that is in a better mood by the end of the session (even if the only reason for the better mood is that the session has ended). Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep putting in the work. Love your sweat.
I’m in the middle of a workout. To be more specific, I’m in the middle of my workout. As a member, client, class regular, friend, co-worker or otherwise, I hope that you won’t take it personally when I ignore you. I’m in this line of work because I want nothing more than to help people. Before becoming a fitness coach people started asking me about my workout plan because they watched me gain 40 pounds of muscle in about 8-10 months. I was happy to share my workout plan. (I have no recollection of what that, circa 1997, plan was.) I just wanted to help people. Years later, I was working out at the Gold’s Gym in Las Vegas (before becoming an employee) and I was giving unsolicited advice to people with poor form. I was trying to correct their form and warn them against injury. They would nod and smile only to go back to poor form after I walked away. So, I earned my certification and got the red shirt with “TRAINER” stamped on the back so that people wouldn’t think of me as some random knob that was posing as Nick Know-it-all. I just wanted to help people.
I’d like to think that I speak for all fitness coaches when I say that we want nothing more than to help every person that we coach. Fitness coaches also need time for our own self-care. We need the emotional space to practice what we preach. There will come a time when you see your coach wearing headphones and in the zone of their own workout. There may come a time when I’m about to lift something heavy and a familiar face approaches me for a chin wag. Pardon my catharsis, I’m practicing self-care and my hope is that you won’t take it personally as I ignore your attempt to chat. I need this time for me. I could write pages about the physical benefits of exercise. But, my hope is that you experience those, improved energy – better sleep habits – mental clarity, benefits already. I’m writing all of this to remind you of the emotional benefits to exercise. If you’ve ever began a workout while angry, you know exactly what I mean.
Over the years, my anger has generated enough adrenaline for me to lift heavier, run faster/farther and to feel less pain during my workouts. By the end of those angry workouts, my serotonin levels had been boosted enough for me to find myself *insert OK Computer voice* “calmer/fitter/happier/more productive”. Wait, now what was I mad about? I’ve never been able to hold on to anger through an intense workout. Pardon my catharsis, I need to sweat this out. Let me be clear, lifting the heavy things doesn’t automagically make you happy and calm. It’s not that simple. If it were, we wouldn’t have such disdain for moving day! Deliberate physical activity (exercise and making sweet love) will boost serotonin levels. However, there is a second-step that I recommend. Ask yourself the tough questions during your workout. Why am I angry? Why am I sad? Why am I tense/anxious/annoyed? Ask those questions and let the answers come to you as you challenge yourself with your next exercise. “Jet, I’m not mad. I’ve got no drama in my life. Do I need anger in order to have a good workout?” No, silly goose, of course you don’t.
Evander Holyfield once said something I’ll never forget. When asked about his music selection for entering the ring (he chose Gospel music while his competitor chose Rap music with aggressive lyrics) he responded with this to say. “I’ll never understand why you have to get angry to do something that requires skill.” I’m paraphrasing this quote from memory. But, I’ve used this as a reminder that anger is not (and should not be) the only fuel for a workout. The music doesn’t always have to be aggressive. [Challenge: Change your workout music selections. Try a completely different genre. Run to classical music. Lift weights to old soul (Ray Charles/James Brown/et al.). Perform Plyometrics to Ska or Swing music. Try something new with your music this week.] The workout will always act as a catharsis. Start your workout in a good mood and feel even better afterwards. There are no bad days, but any day can get better. So, excuse my headphones, pardon my catharsis, I need to work through this hour of my own self-care. I hope that you (fitness enthusiasts, fellow coaches, and clients) don’t take it personally if I ignore you on the workout floor. I’ll answer any questions you may have sooner than later. Until then, work hard until the work isn’t hard and then make it harder. #GetUp