The Gym is for Training, not the Main Event!

Last week a long term client of mine came in and proudly announced that she shoveled snow for 4 hours after a really bad storm we had last week.  And she was completely fine (maybe a bit tired) even after a recent tweak of her hip flexor.  She’s 59 (and awesome).

I was listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast last week (you can find his site at and he was interviewing a man who brought up a very good point and I wanted to share it with my readers because it was an ah-ha moment for me.  Without getting into massive detail he basically stated that for whatever you want to be able to do, you have to realize that the things you do in the gym are for training towards that purpose – the gym is not the main event.  The time in the gym allows you to be able to perform outside of it.  It’s a chicken and egg thought that many people don’t apply properly.  They think that if they just show up at the gym that’s enough.

So what is the main event?  Well, like my client it can be shoveling  snow for hours.  It can be keeping up with your kid on the ice during hockey like another client of mine.  It can be jogging on the beach in February in Florida like another client of mine.  It can be a marathon, it can be competing in a powerlifting event.  But the bottom line is this:


Many people especially at this time of year think that they will go to the gym and magically everything will change without this chicken and egg theory in mind.  I’m always asking people what they want to be able to do with their new body and strength once they have it instead.  Setting that type of goal, no matter what it may be is important.  And sometimes you don’t even know what that goal is until it happens.  For example, a lot of my clients want to eliminate chronic pain.  Often after a few months they will wake up one day and realize that they don’t have pain any more.  That’s when we have a conversation about what they want to be able to do now with their pain free body.  And it’s really exciting.

Here’s some examples of goals I’ve experienced in my career:

  • I want to step on stage in front of hundreds of people in a bikini and feel good
  • I want to complete an endurance event (ie running, triathlon or cycling)
  • I want to climb a monument, mountain, hike up to the top of a place
  • I want to play my sport again at a competitive level, ride my bike or take up a new one
  • I want to carry, play with or keep up with my kids for long periods of time

I want you to notice something:  not one of these goals involves being inside of a gym.  The gym is there to provide the tools you need in order to achieve these goals, not the other way around.


So your first priority in 2016 should be to set that target.  My recommendation is always to have a short term and a long term goal.  Again as an example, one of my client is starting back up again this week with the short term goal of consistency and getting his strength back to where it was after a three month layoff, with a long term nine month goal of joining a Masters’ speed skating group.  It is totally doable with the right progression and guidance.

I signed up for my first obstacle course race in June, which gives me 23 weeks to train.  I have to be able to run 6k and then perform all sorts of cool bodyweight things which I’m excited about.

So again, I’ll reiterate the question:  WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO DO?

And let’s begin there this year and moving forward.  If you need any help I’m always happy to provide it.  Just remember that the time in the gym is training.  The real world is out there just waiting for you to use the body you’ve created.


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