A professional trainer of many years reflects on his particular gym peeves…

Pet hate number 1

For many of my clients the rest minute is possibly the fastest minute known to humanity.

For them the expression that time flies when you’re having fun has little relevance to this brief period of respite. This ‘fun’ minute is 60 seconds delightfully absent of lactic burn and oxygen deprivation and can feel like heaven.

Every now and then I’ll come across a client who ‘hates’ the rest minute. They are ready and willing to go again immediately following the previous set of exercises.

Sound like athletic freaks, heh? Total masochists perhaps? Gods of the gym, how we bow to their greatness.

You may ask yourself, how can I achieve that level of dedication and achievement? How can I aspire to such excellence?

Well, don’t.

It’s easy to achieve – you just need to cheat.

It’s actually easy to look like an energizer bunny on speed, delivering rep after rep, set after set, barely breaking a sweat. You get there by not focussing on what is important – intensity!

You may lift a 15kg barbell for a set of fifteen reps and are blowing hard. You need to rest for thirty seconds but, meanwhile, over the other side of the gym energizer bunny is lifting the same weight for the same reps and is ready to go again immediately.

Guess what, I’m prouder of you. You are clearly working to your capacity and working with intensity. Weights were lifted and an appropriate recovery was required. There is no shame in that.

Gym god lifted half the weight they should have and didn’t require a rest. Good on them for wasting that set and squandering their time in the gym. Don’t they have anywhere better to go? 😉

Displaying the correct technique and maintaining form is another aspect of quality exercise these ‘half-reppers’ seem to be completely oblivious to.

Pushup after pushup after pushup and by the end of the workout they’re proud of the fact that they’ve performed upwards of one-hundred-and-fifty pushups.

Congrats on your wasted effort, I feel like saying, the reality is that you haven’t really done one correctly. A slight flex of the elbows does not count as a true pushup and doing over a hundred of them doesn’t make up for that fact.

So, for your next workout, please remember these three things:

  1. Needing to rest is a good thing, it shows you’re working
  2. If you don’t need to rest you aren’t working hard enough
  3. Do the exercise properly, don’t pretend

And if you’d like some additional information on those rest intervals, see here.

A woman boxing in a gym with her fitness coach

Pet hate number 2

I believe in the concept that it is better to struggle with an act of greatness than it is to succeed at mediocrity.

A mighty statement and maybe a touch arrogant for me to admit to.

Nevertheless it’s true, I would much rather suck at something I’m not used to doing rather than stagnate with something I know I can do well.

We don’t change from doing something we know how to do. We don’t grow.

We only advance once we expose ourselves to new experiences.

This may be as simple as doing something you’re used to for longer than you’re used to doing it, maybe a bit faster, or lifting something a little heavier.

If you manage to push ten kilograms over your head on Wednesday, doing it on Friday and again on Sunday will only maintain what you have. You will not be advancing, you’ll just be spinning your wheels in the mud.

When I mention this to my clients, many of them will come back with the lightning quick response of “I’m happy with where I am” and at one level, thats great.

However, it’s also total garbage. No one should be paying for personal training so they can maintain the glorious level of sub-par.

As a fitness coach, I’m not expecting the dedication and physical prowess of a professional athlete here, but I want my clients to at least be able to honestly believe that they can do what the average person cannot.

You’ll only ever work yourself in that direction by pushing yourself a baby step outside of your comfort zone. 

Just one baby step at a time; it’s wafer thin but it can also be a mile wide.

This article has been submitted by Tony Defries, a Queensland personal trainer. If you have something you’d like to get off your chest in a guest post please drop us a line. And if you are a personal trainer and would like some advice on how to market your business, see here.

Related Articles:

My pet hates: a fitness coach shares his biggest training irritations

CrossFit Commandments

The ABCs of Buying the Best Rowing Machine