Do you remember when you first moved out of your parents?
At 19 years old I was taking the first step towards adulthood: Moving out on my own, releasing my adolescence, and realizing my own manhood.
It was exciting.
It was empowering.
And it was not at all what I expected.
For the weeks leading up until the day I moved out, I did my best to cross my T’s and dot my I’s. Planning it all out, I made sure I had everything I needed:
- Furniture (couches, bed, dressers)
- “Essentials” (soap, detergent, kitchenware, tooth brush)
- Clothes (things I wore anyways, the rest I’d get rid of)
- Entertainment (TV, laptop, Xbox, etc.)
- Money (to cover rent, bills, groceries, etc.)
The day I moved in went just as planned.
With the help of a couple buddies, I moved all of my stuff in, set up things the way I wanted, and thanked my friends as they left me to enjoy my new home.
Exhausted from the day of moving furniture and watching my mom bawl her eyes out, I laid down on the couch and promptly slipped into a nap.
Regaining consciousness, I rubbed my eyes and sat up.
My nap induced stupor left me with no idea where I was. But as it slowly began to wane, I remembered the exciting predicament on my hands. I was in my apartment, up late, being an adult, and seizing my very-mature destiny.
I also realized what had woken me up in the first place:
I had to potty.
(And it wasn’t number 1)
Hurrying to the restroom, I quickly found the toilet. As I began to do my business, I started thinking of all the cool grownup shit I was going to do.
- Throw parties.
- Drink coffee.
- Read the newspaper.
Stuff like that, ya know?
Deep in thought, and excited about my new life, I reached for the toilet paper.
Not paying attention to the irony of my own words, I looked in horror at one vital thing I had left off my list of essentials: toilet paper.
With my ego ruined (and my left sock along with it) I decided I was not near as prepared as I first thought.
New Stuff is Tough.
It’s tough because it’s never as simple as you expect. And no matter how much research you do, or how many buzzfeed articles you read, there will always be a few things that were impossible to predict.
Like me and my toilet paper debacle above, I’m sure your first moving-out-story had a similar vibe.
I need to buy shower curtain rings?”
Unfortunately, the only way to really understand the in’s and out’s of something is to do it. And then, over time, as we become crafty old veterans, we are able to subconsciously anticipate potential mishaps before they even happen.
Trust me, I never forget toilet paper on my trips to Walmart.
Fitness is no exception to this rule.
Upon starting a fitness routine, people do their best to mimic my attempt at moving out.
They dot their I’s and cross their T’s.
Gathering up essentials like:
- the perfect program
- the perfect diet
- the perfect outfit
Luckily, there are billions of articles covering each of the topics below and, for the most part, they’re all good. They get the job done and they give you a great place to start.
But today, we aren’t talking about that.
We aren’t talking about the T’s and I’s, we aren’t talking about the furniture, and we sure as fuck aren’t talking about your sobbing mother.
Today we are talking about the toilet paper, the shower curtains, and all the stuff you don’t foresee. Maybe they aren’t flashy or exciting — but maybe they’ll save you some time (and a pair of socks).
So, here are the 3 requirements for getting fit (that no one told you about).
1. Choosing a Gym
Before we go to in depth with this one,
Here is one thing you need to know: (almost) all gyms are the same.
Now this isn’t to say there is zero difference between your local Planet Fitness and the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. But when comparing two commercial gyms on opposing sides of the block — they’re more or less the same.
Both gyms will have barbells and dumbbells, machines and cable stations, resistance bands and medicine balls, and everything else you could imagine.
Both will tell you why their gym is different and why their brands are top of the line, and they might even use phrases like “cutting edge” or “state of the art”.
Maybe both will throw an inspirational success story your way, and they’ll definitely offer you some “freebies” in the hope for future upsells (personal training, tanning, referrals, etc.)
But, underneath it all, it’s pretty much the same.
Then why are you even bringing it up?”
Because, voice of public opinion, there are a few major things to consider; a handful of things that are critical in deciding which gym is right for you.
“But, you just said they’re all the same.
You make no sense.”
Right, so let me explain.
Everything you are told about a gym before joining are all the same things you don’t need to be worrying about at all.
Yeah, the local gym has weights?
They all fucking do. I don’t want to hear that shit.
I want to hear about how you’re going to get to the gym on days your boss asks you to stay late.
- Is that gym conveniently located?
- Is it time efficient to go there or is it completely out of the way?
- Do they stay open late or do they close right before you get off work?
The key to finding the right gym for you,
is figuring out what could potentially hold you back.
Joining a class-based gym (bootcamp, crossfit, etc.) is an awesome idea, until you realize your schedule won’t allow you to attend any of the classes.
In this case, a 24/7 commercial gym may be a better idea.
Joining a 24/7 commercial gym is an awesome idea, until you realize they don’t offer any child care and you have no one to watch your kids.
In this case, the YMCA may be a better idea.
The options are endless and as far as results go — all gyms are the same.
Instead of focusing on what a gym CAN do for you, spend some time figuring out what a gym CAN’T do for you.
Take a close look at your life and what you truly need (hint: it ain’t shiny cardio equipment), and then choose the gym that is most in line with your life.
2. Finding a Program and Diet
There are billions of articles online about what constitutes the perfect fitness plan. But, rather than making that number 1 billion and 1, I’m going to get let you in on a little secret:
It doesn’t really matter which program you choose.
(are you seeing a trend?)
At least, not really.
And definitely not at this point.
As a relatively inexperienced trainee, your body is prime to adapt to just about anything you throw at it. Putting you in this super sweet predicament of choosing whatever program you want… and still seeing awesome results.
So instead of telling you what program to use, we are going to cover how to find a solid program.
When choosing a program it is easy to get caught up looking at the program, looking at the reviews, looking at the coach who made it.
Stop that shit.
Rather than looking so deeply into the program, we are gonna spend a little time looking at ourselves.
Since we now know that pretty much any program *can* work, we now need to let go of any preconceived notion of what exercise we are supposed to be doing.
No more of that “I have to run to be skinny” stuff.
Like when we chose our gym, we are going to be basing our programming choice off of 2 simple questions. If the program you’re looking at checks both boxes then it is a go.
1) Will it make me stronger?
Strength training is vital when it comes to transforming your body. But I’m not just talking about physical strength and how much weight you can lift.
Strong has become such a bastardized term that none of us have our own personal definitions anymore.
For a powerlifter, strong may be how much they can bench. For a fireman, strong may be how efficiently he can carry himself (or another) amongst chaos. And for a mother, strong may just mean getting up each day, staying healthy, and being around for her family.
What does strong mean to you?
Will that program do that?
2) Will I enjoy it?
This one is key.
Sometimes working out sucks. Even the most hardcore of gym goers have days where they aren’t ecstatic to hit the gym. This becomes even more prevalent if you just plain hate the workout you’re supposed to be doing.
But if you thoroughly enjoy your program (or hate it in a good way) it’ll make those bad days bearable.
If you hate squats, don’t choose a program that has you squatting 5 days a week.
If you hate running, don’t choose a program with a heavy cardio component.
Sure, everything works.
But only certain things will work for you.
Find those things.
3. Choosing a Gym Schedule
Most programs will provide you with some sort of weekly frequency.
Whether it be 3 days a week, or a full blown 6 days a week, it is important that you choose a program that is realistic with your schedule.
If you’re a college student with lots of downtime (outside of class and party-hopping) then maybe a 5 or 6 day a week frequency would be ideal for you. But if you’re a mother of 4 that works 50 hour weeks, it might be best to choose a program that only has you in the gym 2-3 days a week.
Try to be realistic with your schedule and choose whatever you feel fits you best.
From here, it’s time to choose which days you will hit the gym each week.
There are two main reasons for choosing specific days.
- It keeps you from ambiguously planning on 3 days and ending up just going Thursday, Friday, Saturday every week because you didn’t go any earlier in the week.
- You create an inner sense of accountability by setting the vague deadlines within your schedule. If Tuesday is one of your gym days there is no I can just get it in later this week.
Before choosing days also make sure that those are realistic days.
While Monday-Wednesday-Friday is the typical go to, that doesn’t mean you can’t do Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday if those days fit your schedule a little better.
Outside of your own schedule is also the population flow of the gym you attend. If your gym is packed on Saturday nights, resulting in your workout taking twice as long, it might be best to just go in the morning or choose another day.
Once again you’ll need to look at yourself and see what fits you best.
“Nick, you’re starting to sound like a broken record.”
Shut up, voice of public opinion, I know.
None of this stuff is exciting, and I really hope you didn’t get too hyped with my click-bait title. But, like most beneficial things, the good stuff is always a little bland.
So, I apologize if it got old fast.
Just consider it catch-up for all the time that has passed with you focusing on things that didn’t matter.
It’s about time someone shared the secret with you.
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