It is About Making You Better
Posted February 08, 2024 by Matthew Romans
Self-improvement is a continuous process. Mastery takes a lifetime. Those are just a couple of the maxims that I often come across when I read self-help, philosophy, and leadership books. It is a noble endeavor to want to improve yourself and not be content with who you are at this very moment. Constructive criticism can be difficult for some people to accept, because sometimes the truth hurts. It is not what we want to hear, but it is what we need to hear if we want to build on who we are because no matter how self-aware we think we are, we all have blind spots. If you are not progressing as a Total Results client as you hoped you would, we should examine why that is the case. Accountability is important but it is not about taking you to task. Everything that we do at our facility is about making you better.
The nature of exercise instruction is to be critical, to point out and correct mistakes so that we can maximize your performance. As an instructor, it is important to me to balance being critical with providing positive reinforcement and encouragement. I am up front and honest with potential clients when discussing expectations during an initial consultation. I explain the importance of proper form, exercise intensity, and mastery of speed of movement and turnarounds, but I also am very careful to mention that this program is not a cure-all, and that their degree of success is largely predicated on what they do when they are not here. Naturally we don't want to scare anyone off, but I don't want there to be any illusions about what our philosophy entails. Sometimes people decide that this isn't the program for them, and that's okay. I would rather learn that right off the bat rather than a couple months down the road.
Correcting form discrepancies is the most important aspect of being an exercise instructor. Proper form is not just something that we give lip service to; it is the very essence of our exercise philosophy. These discrepancies are not conscious decisions by the client to do the wrong thing, but rather instinctive acts to try to make things just a little bit easier. These form discrepancies must be corrected immediately and repeatedly until they no longer occur, but please remember that these criticisms should never be taken personally. Many other instructors in our industry are not as strict about form as I am, but it is not because I enjoy being critical. It takes courage to want to teach and correct behavior, especially when you know it might not be well-received. I have a responsibility to uphold the high standards that we have had at Total Results for over 20 years, and I would do the client and myself a disservice if I let certain things slide. If I let one thing go, it can very easily become a slippery slope, and it is important to be consistent across the board. Praise and positive reinforcement are also important, because that helps to solidify proper behavior and execution. Consistent and honest feedback is the key to improvement in any aspect of life, especially in exercise.
Discomfort is a natural part of high-intensity exercise. In order to stimulate true positive change in the human body, you must do something intense and significant to induce the body to adapt, and that feeling is not pleasant. I would not sell anyone a bill of goods that our workouts are fun, but they are critical for building and maintaining skeletal muscle mass. I am certainly not a masochist, and I don't enjoy seeing people in pain, but the dull ache and intense fatigue that you experience during a workout is brief and is not indicative of injury. As my friend Al Coleman used to say, "Don't run from the discomfort, chase after it." Also unpleasant to some is the cold temperature and fans that we have in our exercise studio. This is necessary in order to keep you from overheating during your workout. High-intensity exercise causes your muscles to produce a tremendous amount of heat, and if the workout space isn't properly chilled or ventilated you can overheat sufficiently to short-circuit your performance. No, it isn't particularly enjoyable to be in a cold environment with fans blowing on you, but this is what is necessary to optimize your workout experience. You will warm up within the first two exercises. I also must maintain a clinical demeanor during your session. Sometimes this throws people off initially, but I can assure you that I am not trying to seem distant or unfriendly. Exercise is a serious endeavor that requires focus, and chatting mindlessly during your workout can increase your risk for injury as well as diminish your performance. I enjoy talking with clients before and after sessions, but proper perspective must be maintained. Our studio environment and my instructional style are all carefully cultivated to give you the best opportunity for success.
All we want is for you to prosper. No one ever said our workouts are easy, but the reward comes when you start to see and experience the fruits of your labor. Understanding why we do certain things will help you to focus on what is important and keep things in proper perspective. Not every workout will be record-setting, of course. You will have some days where you feel great and others that are a struggle. Be emotionally mature and take responsibility for your success as well as your failures. We are your health partners, and everything that we do is geared toward making you better.