The difference between Training and Exercising
Most people at your big box gym are exercisers. They are chasing the burn. There isn’t really a rhyme or reason to what they are doing. It doesn’t build on a set of skills. There may be a goal in mind (IE, fat loss) but the workout is more just a collection of stuff rather than something specific. Sound familiar? In my experience there are two kinds of exercisers, those who love it, that can be seen plugging away for hours on various machines or lunging across the room over and over again and those who know they should go to the gym but don’t really like it. As a fitness professional, I’ve worked with both kinds. The high energy types who just want to go, go, go all the time. As long as they’re moving they’re happy. They want to leave saying “you really kicked my butt today.” The other group has a trainer because it holds them accountable to be at the gym. They want to be told what to do and not have to think about it. Its kind of a I barely made it here today and my mind is elsewhere attitude.
To both these people I say, what if you really put your mind and focus into what you were doing? What if you had a clear goal over a several week or month period instead of just meeting your goal of consistently making it to the gym? What if, instead of pushing through the machine circuit at a furious pace, you took the time to learn how to properly perform movements that take more technical skill like a full squat, full push up, or a kettlebell snatch? Instead of removing your mind from what you are doing while watching TV just going through the motions, you should instead immerse yourself into what you are doing. Performing more dynamic and athletic movements will require that.
As mentioned above, those without a real goal are typically just doing stuff just to do stuff. If it makes them sweat or burns a bit then it must be good. Even better if you are sore the next day, right? Wrong. I can really feel the burn by doing 100 squat jumps but that doesn’t mean they’re really productive or even safe for that matter. Its important to have something specific to work toward.
It can be tough to know how to achieve that goal if you don’t know the best way to get there. There is some valuable information in fitness magazines written by qualified professionals but most of the information perpetuated by the media and shows like The Biggest Loser is garbage. The cost of a qualified professional it is well worth it.
If you aren’t utilizing a coach/trainer currently it pays to have training partners. Preferably someone that will be waiting for you everyday, is equally focused, and will let you know when you are out of position or slacking.
Exercising can only take you so far. Don’t be mindless at the gym. Just because it makes you tired doesn’t mean its worth doing. Learn a skill and challenge yourself. Better results will be achieved in the long term. Now go train!