My workouts are non-negotiable. I work my schedule so I can get to the gym 4-5 times a week and have been known to schedule dates and dinners with friends around training. I treat my workouts like appointments. My hour or so in the gym is how I decompress, re-center. I’m most comfortable with a barbell in my hand, calculating percentages of one-rep maxes (the only time I can do math somewhat quickly) or determining how to cycle the barbell during a WOD in the most efficient manner.
I’ve thrown around the phrase “no excuses” a lot over the last couple of years. Back in December, when I had no voice – like, couldn’t even push out a whisper – I didn’t miss a training session. I didn’t even miss teaching a barre class, but that had more to do with everyone traveling for the holidays and less to do with a “no excuses” approach. Bless my students for letting me attempt to use a headset and watching my nonverbal cues. I’ve shown up to the gym during injuries, illness, and days when I just didn’t want to. Because #NoExcuses.
In my circle of friends, there are a fair few others that like to #hashtag #NoExcuses their workouts. Got kids? Go to the gym before they wake up. Have to work late? Hit the gym at lunch. Know the day is packed with meetings? Pack a cooler full of food and haul it with you. Stay up late. Get up early. Devote an entire day to meal prep. Whatever it takes to hit goals. #NoExcuses.
Except, sometimes? Sometimes there are excuses. Really good – valid – excuses. Of the many things I’ve learned since launching my personalized training programs, the fact that there is a problem with the #NoExcuses mentality is one of the most impactful lessons I’ve gained.
It takes me a lot of time to write a program. I review my client’s intake form, consider their goals, maybe correspond with them about dialing in those goals or setting more realistic ones. I develop a program around those goals, sometimes getting creative if a client doesn’t have access to a gym or needs modifications. I assign them their program through FitBot and expect them to follow it.
Only a few follow their programming as prescribed. They check-in weekly, record their lifts for critique, send me questions, request Skype sessions when they need or want extra coaching. They ask about nutrition, give me feedback on what’s working, what’s not working, and what they would like to change. They are what any coach would classify as the “perfect” client.
Most of my clients miss a workout or two each week. Sometimes they miss a full week, maybe more. At first, I was frustrated by that. The heart of what I do isn’t to help them fit into a certain size, but to help them towards improved health and daily living. I want, maybe too much, for my clients to succeed. I want their doctor to give good news about their blood pressure. I want their aches and pains to disappear. I want them to look in the mirror and feel confident. I get so invested in each and every client. I’ll admit, sometimes I want to sit them down and give them a stern talking to that would make my southern momma and grandmas proud because they aren’t following the program, and I know they have it in them to be successful.
But here’s the thing.
People have excuses.
And some of them are valid.
Life? It happens. Children need to be picked up from daycare, fed dinner, given baths, put to bed. Relationships need date nights. Houses need cleaning. Bills need paying. Work needs overtime. Life happens. Schedules fill up. Days get long.
So, what do we do when the excuses start to add up? When the FitBot notifications of “so and so missed their workout” add up? When the emails and messages and texts come in saying “I’m trying so hard, but I just can’t seem to get to the gym?”
We stop the “No Excuses” mentality and get real, whether with our clients or with ourselves.
As a coach, I see my clients – all women – beat themselves up because they believe they can’t be everything to everyone and take care of themselves too. They see that #NoExcuses life on Instagram and feel bad about the fact that they couldn’t get in 30 minutes of HIIT that day. They feel pressured, even, because “that girl has a job and two kids, too, but she’s at the gym five days a week, why can’t I be?”
It’s my job to listen, just as much as it is to coach fitness. Are their excuses “excuses” or are they valid? Are they not showing up because life demands them be elsewhere? Or are they not showing up because they aren’t as invested in a lifestyle change as they think they are? Regardless of their excuse, it’s a sign for me to re-evaluate their programming and goals. Did they try to go out of the gate with workouts five days a week? Maybe we scale back to two days for now, then add another day once those two days are managed. Maybe we re-work the programming so more can be done at home or on lunch breaks. It’s not just my job to write a program. It’s also my job to coach them through their ups and downs.
“I just didn’t want to” isn’t the same excuse as “my daughter had to be picked up from daycare because she’s sick.” My personal workouts may be non-negotiable. I may admittedly follow a “no excuses” line of thinking for myself. But I’m at a place in my life right now that allows me to be selfish with my time. It won’t always be like that, and I’m willing to bet I’ll struggle with that when the time comes. I can’t and won’t expect my clients to have that same #NoExcuses attitude. I can help them implement change though. I can help them navigate through life and find a balance that works for where they are now. This isn’t The Biggest Loser. We aren’t going for extreme weight loss in a short amount of time. We’re going for sustainable healthy changes for life.
If you find yourself in that churn of excuses, think about the kind of excuses you’re making. Is your excuse coming from a place of “I’d rather not?” Or is it a valid “I have other responsibilities” excuse? If you’re skipping out on something, be it the gym or a doctor’s appointment, ask yourself why – the real why. If it’s because you’d rather spend a few more minutes with your little ones that night, give yourself the grace to do just that. If it’s because you just don’t want to, then have a heart to heart with yourself or your coach. There’s usually another deeper reason besides the “I’m just so tired” line.
If you’re a coach, pause when you find yourself frustrated about clients missing workouts. Find out why they haven’t been to the gym in two weeks. Ask them why they aren’t checking in, sending you videos, whatever. Hear them out. Listen to them. Work with them. Coach them through their frustrations and re-evaluate their program and goals to set them up for future success.
Don’t guilt them with a #NoExcuses hashtag.
Life happens. Let’s not guilt ourselves because of it.