Starting An Exercise Program - Words of Wisdom From A World Class Trainer
Documentation on the importance of exercise to health is overwhelming. Quite simply everyone at every age needs to consistently exercise. All aspects of health and vitality are tied to the levels of fitness we enjoy. The body’s ability to fight disease and execute efficient tissue repair is directly proportional to the physical excellence we do or do not enjoy.
From an evolutionary perspective, the human body has been fashioned over thousands of years to be an efficient movement machine. Up until the 1980’s, the quality of almost every facet of our existence from work to leisure was impacted by the integrity of the physical body. Since then, technological innovation and advancement combined with more sedentary work environments and devolving attitudes towards health and leisure have resulted in western society now being the sickest in recorded history. Levels of physical fitness are at all time lows and obesity and disease at all time highs. More people are sick and taking prescription medications and the progressive increase decade by decade is alarming. We have been sadly conditioned to believe that wellness and disease prevention is found in a pill and only now is science starting to recognize that the keys to health are found in three foundational pillars - exercise, diet and a positive mental attitude - with exercise being by far the dominant component of health and longevity.
There is so much information available on the net that for many people the prospect of starting an exercise program is clouded by a plethora of options. For many patients, the question I hear is: “I know that I need to exercise, but have no idea what would be the best path for me. Should I do cardio, weight/resistance training, HIT training, Cross-training, racket sports or any other variety of options out there being touted as the best choice with the quickest results?” The short answer to this is that in fact, they all work. So, if they all work, what are the keys components to making an effective choice? To get the answer to this I asked who I consider to be the foremost personal trainer in Southwestern Ontario, Scott Paton. Scott is a former body building champion with over 20 years of experience. He has trained and counseled professional and amateur champions from all of the major sports. He is a true student of physical excellence who is constantly adjusting his programs to incorporate the best and most up to date advances is exercise physiology, technique and procedure.
Here is Scott Paton’s top ten considerations for what he calls “Exercise Virgins” considering starting an exercise program:
“It’s all about the fun”… Choose an exercise program that truly captures your passion. Your choice of exercise is nowhere near as important as the level of enthusiasm and commitment you bring to the activity. Every exercise program done with enthusiastic consistency will produce results. It has been my experience that if you choose something based upon peer pressure or the recommendation of some recognized authority that does not excite you, you will fail. You have to enjoy and be passionate about what you do, to succeed.
“Plan for success”… Set realistic goals. A large measure of your success will be a reflection of how realistically you set your goals. Frustration due to unrealistic goal setting shuts down more exercise “newbies” than any other single factor. Here, working with a professional will help you understand better the -limitations vrs. expectations- equation and ensure that you craft a program that will maximize your potentials for success.
“Do the right thing”… Get the right check-ups before starting any exercise program. By all means consult with your physician to ensure that any over-arching health concerns are understood and their potential impact upon your training fully considered. If you do not currently work with a chiropractor, get one. An experienced chiropractor has the best tools and experience to determine the functional integrity of the physical body and predict areas of possible concern or weakness that may result in injury or program failure. When you are aware of your weaknesses, a large part of your initial program should be dedicated to their correction and functional resolution. Failure to do so could ultimately be disastrous.
“Fuel-up for success”… Exercise without dietary considerations is like putting low octane fuel in a Ferrari. It just will never perform to potential and when pushed will ultimately break down. Proper diet represents over 50% of your potential for success. The body is a magnificent machine whose performance is directly proportional to the quality of fuel it runs on. Feed it crap and it runs like crap!
“Get your head into the game”… Understand that the biggest factor in your success is how well you get your head into the game. You must intellectually commit to the process. You have to get enough leverage on yourself that failure never becomes an option. When the only direction is forward, you become like a perfectly aimed arrow heading for the target.
“Pain is just temporary”… Never fear pain, rather understand it. As any athlete progresses in their training, they will encounter periods where the body has to fight to overcome weakness or reach new levels of strength and achievement. These will inevitably be accompanied by some levels of discomfort. You may have to rest, you may have to adjust the direction or tempo of your training, but with intelligence and persistence you will overcome the obstacles and the pain will go away. Here again consulting with a training professional will help you over these temporary hurdles to achieve new growth.
“Success in the gym has a snowball effect”… The fitter you become, the stronger you will be in every other area of your life. I promise you will not only look and feel better, but have more energy, stamina and radiate a self-confidence which will make you a better competitor in every other facet of your life.
“Dare to share”… Publicly share your exercise/fitness goals and successes with your peers. By putting it out there with friends and family you are broadening your commitment to succeed. In doing so, you are now deepening your personal accountability to the process. You are also subtly putting out the challenge to those around you that may be a catalyst for someone else to take control of their lives.
“Keep showing up”... Every athlete will hit roadblocks along their training path where either the process becomes routine or mundane. To continue to grow and maximize potential for success you must keep it fresh! At a minimum of three month intervals you must change up your routine to foster continued growth and maintain interest. Again, working with a professional trainer will allow you to avoid the “ruts” and keep it fresh and interesting. For my clients, no training session is ever exactly duplicated. I am constantly challenging the muscle to adapt and the athlete to perform.
“Reward yourself and have fun”... Give thanks for your gains and celebrate your victories. Be proud of your accomplishments because for many, getting in shape will be the toughest but most rewarding thing you will do for yourself. If you are not having fun then change what you are doing. Go back to rule number one and find what captures your passion. In closing, understand that in areas of health and fitness there are no destinations, it is all a lifelong journey.
I have had the pleasure of working with Scott for over ten years and can in all honesty say that I can do things now at 67 that I could never do at 37. He and his assistant Elizabeth McLaws are masterful. If you are interested in consulting with Scott you can reach him at their web site: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 226.678.0393