I learned a thing or two at Personal Training School; how to use the word 'challenging' instead of 'really, really hard' and how to very poorly count repetitions. There were even some exercise instructions in there too, as I recall.
But one extremely useful and seasonally relevant lesson I learned was how to set goals with clients. So here’s some advice on how to set and stick to your new year’s exercise resolutions and goals.
First things first, what is a goal? It’s “The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result”. Exactly. It’s something you want, and it’s my job to help you figure out how to set your best goals and how to achieve them.
Before any of my clients touch a dumbbell or do a single push up, we set goals. And we review these goals at appropriate intervals in our journey together. But why set fitness goals in the first place? So you don’t turn around five years from now and have regrets.
Let’s move on to how we set those goals, and here is that point where I stop to explore the old mnemonic acronym S.M.A.R.T. It gets trotted out every time anyone writes about goal setting, and that’s because it’s awesome. As the saying goes, if it’s not broke, don’t go changing it unless you have something better. So, set yourself some S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Meaningful, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound goals.
Let's talk them through…
1. Be SPECIFIC.
Instead of saying you want to lose weight, be fitter and stronger and look better, you need to nail down the details, i.e. I want to lose 4 kg of fat, fit into my size 12 jeans again, be able to do 6 chin-ups, run 5 km and look exactly like Connor McGregor. As you can see, these goals are specific (if not gender specific). Track your progress by setting a baseline for yourself – how many chin-ups can you do right now? How far can you run? What are your measurements? Don’t just weigh yourself, take tape measurements and body fat percentage measurements. A personal trainer can help you measure your body fat percentage – a number that’s extremely relevant to your health.
2. Make it MEANINGFUL.
Ask yourself why? What would these goals mean to you if achieved? Would you have more confidence, feel better about yourself, sleep better, look better, have increased energy? Would you be a healthier role model for your kids? Would you have more vitality to bring to your relationship? If it doesn’t mean anything to you, then it’s not your goal. Picture yourself having achieved your goal. Visualise it. Keep thinking till you hit something that causes an emotion.
3. Go for ACTION-ORIENTED.
This allows you to set out steps which must be completed in order to reach the target e.g. if your goal is to complete 6 chin-ups, the action steps will start with strengthening the muscles involved in the chin-up movement patterning. Depending on your level of expertise and skill, this might mean starting to train with weights and a personal trainer, or building your strength by using a band to help you perform chin-ups tomorrow.
4. Remain REALISTIC.
Gentlemen, you’re not Connor McGregor. And ladies, you’re not an elite athlete. You’re not going to be training like a beast seven days a week and eating so clean even a caveman’s diet would look decadent. A personal trainer can help you manage your expectations and set goals that are reasonable and achievable.
5. Keep it TIMELY.
Someday just doesn’t cut it – this is not a fairy tale and you are not wishing on a star. Set yourself a deadline – 12 weeks, 6 months, a year… whatever it takes. If you’re not sure what a realistic timeframe is for your goal, ask an Elixr personal trainer or instructor for help.
Whatever you do though, don’t wait any longer! Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals, allocate time to exercise in your diary and make an appointment to see me if you want more help and guidance.
Grainne Byrne is a personal trainer and Pilates instructor at Elixr Bondi Junction. She has a special interest in weight loss and body toning, and thrives on helping others take control of their health and fitness goals in order to reach their true potential. She can be reached on 0405 549 240 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.