One of the hardest things as a fitness professional is trying to get a message across about the mindset of ‘fitness’ but knowing that some parts of that message will sound completely contradictory to people. I know that that’s because everyone is different and different people will face different mental challenges when working towards their goals. Yet I also know it may mean sometimes what i write or discuss on podcasts has potential to confuse.
For instance I did a podcast last week where I said in a nutshell – you can do whatever suits you to work towards your goals, there’s no set right or wrong BUT if you want to change where you’re at you do have to make changes. If your head says but I am doing what makes me happy that’s fine but also means you need to accept you probably won’t see the changes you’d like.
Now that rule applies across the board but the message is probably more relevant to those who want change but haven’t yet accepted wanting isn’t enough you also have to apply. For many who listen to my podcast / read this you are already active, have made or are in the process of making changes. The thing I observe most about people who are already actively trying to make improvements is they undervalue what they are already doing and when they hear messages such as that feel bad and like they need to do more. Then you get to an opposite problem, where everything gets overwhelming and you almost feel like a failure for not doing more.
Fitness is like life. It’s a balancing act of ambition and having the drive to work towards your goals and actively do things that will assist that and knowing when you need to rest, go easy on yourself, allow yourself to drop a few of the less important balls.
I teach a lot of spin (sorry group cycle). I rarely teach to a beat or specific resistance and coach using the RPE (rate of perceived exertion) scale. I encourage people to go heavy – for them, or fast – for them. I say that by the end their legs should feel heavy, their breathing laboured, they should finish feeling they have worked as hard as they can. They could be going slower than someone else in the class but giving their all. That faster person could be giving 75%- in which case the slower person will see greater results over a period of time. What I try and teach my regulars is that they have to self regulate their efforts – when it starts to feel easy they need to recognise that and adjust an element of their ride to increase the intensity, equally if it starts to feel like they can’t carry on they again have the autonomy to adjust. They also understand that day to day their energy levels will be different, sometimes a class feels harder or better- that is’t they’ve lost fitness, it’s how their week has been, if they’ve been ill, perhaps they are hungry or slept badly. As the instructor I can look and say ‘you can put more resistance on ‘you can go faster’ but I’m not riding their bike and only they know if i’m right or wrong in my assertion.
I think a group cycle class is a great analogy for your fitness routine as a whole. Learn to recognise when you are pulling back a bit and need to make changes if you want to reach a goal, but also learn to recognise when you’re being hard on yourself. Take advice, but don’t just do it without question – understand why and how coaches suggests you make changes so as time goes on you find it easier to manage your mindset to your health. Be kind to yourself but honest with it.