Fitness Elements of Style

Source unknown. But I am grateful for them, whoever they are.

I love to write and have been lucky enough to do it professionally from time to time. But I am often admonished for being too verbose. One of my favorite editors and writers gently suggested I re-read the writing classic The Elements of Style to tighten things up. It’s something that’s challenging for me, because I love words. So I’m practicing.

That book hammers home one point more than any other: simplify. At around 100 pages of razor-sharp advice, Strunk and White practiced what they preached. Every word must be weighed for its value in furthering the central point of the whole piece of writing. When in doubt, cut it out.

Since writing and physical fitness are my two great passions, the lessons from one often show up in the other. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the elements of my own fitness style. That is: how do I simplify my fitness life?

There are two main perspectives to consider here: my own training, and how I train others.

ELEMENTS OF STYLE FOR THE ATHLETE

  • Know your why
  • Find a coach to help you with it
  • Do the work and do it well
  • Be consistent
  • Own your process

We’ve previously discussed the importance of figuring out exactly what it is you want to do before setting off down the fitness road. We want to re-emphasize this as the priority: you have to know your WHY first. Your results will be built upon the clarity of your WHY. Without it, your outcomes are left entirely to chance.

Once you figure out what you want, find a coach to help you learn how to do the thing safely and well. It’s worth it. Online programs or stuff shared by friends that feels relevant is worth exploring and practicing, too. But if you go it alone, give extra consideration to how well a program will actually fit into your life and schedule.

Now do the work given to you by your coach or program. Try your best and trust the process. People will complain about the results of this or that program/gym/coach, but if you dig deeper you’ll often hear about about how they modified a program, combined it with another program at the same time, took a month or two off in the middle of things, or just flat out didn’t follow directions. Don’t be that person. Do the work and do it to the best of your ability.

Be consistent. It’s okay to take an extra day off here and there if you need more recovery, or to dial back the intensity if you’re injured, ill, or just plain tired. But put it into your head that you will show up regularly. Even if you only do a little bit, that’s a little bit more than you would’ve done if you hadn’t shown up.

Take responsibility for your experience. If you’re not making the progress you might like, ask yourself if you’ve followed all the prior elements. Do you know your why? Have you found the right teacher? Are you doing the work to the best of your ability? Are you staying consistent? If your answer to any of those questions is “no,” then make a change. Own your experience — it’s not on anyone else.

ELEMENTS OF STYLE FOR THE TRAINER

The elements are similar for the coach, with a few tweaks.

  • Know your why
  • Do the work and do it well
  • Own your process

A trainer needs to know their why, as well. Do you even like coaching? Do you even like PEOPLE? What makes you want to help them? Is it a passion or just a job? No judgments — just know your why, as it will guide you. (Here’s ours if your curious!)

Put in the work it takes to be a good coach. Study and practice. Make sure you know what you’re talking about. Have a plan for your clients. Keep yourself clean and presentable. Be on time.

Own your professional process. If you’re not connecting well with your clients, not finding the kind of client you want in the first place, or just not enjoying yourself — look in the mirror. Do you have a clear idea of why you’re doing this work? And if so, are you actually doing that work well? If no, make change. It’s on you. True, if you’re new you might have to pay some dues for a bit — but you can still do it in a way that’s palatable to your personal process if you pay attention.

It is indeed important to find the right kind of clients, just as it’s important for an athlete to find the right kind of coach. But in the coach’s case this happens organically as long as you keep up with the other elements.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

None of this is scientific by any means. These are just the things that popped into my head most  urgently while pondering my passions. They feed off each other well — this simplicity thing especially!

But there’s one more enormous element that deserves its own independent examination: where to invest your time and money as a trainer. Coming soon!