It’s not what you know, it’s what you do.

There are those gym sessions where you just go to the gym and do your thing, then go home or to work or wherever, but your day continues as normal.  Today wasn’t that kind of day for me.  Today is the kind of day where I am reminded of my time at the gym every time I move.  I had a severe case of ‘Muppet-arms’ afterwards, to the point that I had to lean down to meet my post-workout-milkshake rather than lift it up to my face like a normal human (much to the amusement of the café staff)  Walking up or down stairs was a problem too… in fact walking was a problem period.  I also had this nagging feeling in my stomach that my breakfast was planning on reappearing.  It didn’t (much to the relief of the café staff).

Yep.. absolutely... that's what I look like without a shirt... for sure.

I don’t fit in the ‘gym-junkie’ category but I go regularly enough.  I don’t run every day but I manage to jog a few times a week, usually between calf or hamstring injuries.  I also like riding my bike but of late I’m lucky if I get out more than once per week.  While I’m not a shining example of physical fitness I have defined fitness and health goals and I am regularly active.  I am certainly no stranger to the gym but never the less, I haven’t hurt in the same way that I did this morning for a long time and the important question to ask is why (go on, ask me why..)

Well, since you asked, the reason that I had my ass handed to me this morning was because my wife was booked in for a session with the personal trainer and couldn’t go, so I took her place… even though I am familiar with the equipment and probably don’t need a program made up because I can find plenty in magazines and on the internet.  This appointment was already paid for so I didn’t want to let it go to waste.

What is surprising about the session though, was that he didn’t show me anything I hadn’t seen before, there were no ground breaking super-innovations in exercise science that were going to take me on a short-cut to my goals.  I warmed up with a 4km run, then some squats and shoulder presses, some chin-ups, some leg-presses and leg extensions finishing up with a few rows.

On reflection, I did surprisingly little, and this reflection was reinforced when Lisa asked me what I did and after telling her, the response was “if that’s all you did, how come you’re so sore?”.

What he did that was different to my normal workout was to put time frames on things (i.e. see how many you can do in 5 minutes) and pushed me to do a few more reps at a little higher weight than I would have done on my own.  You can’t get that from the internet or from a magazine.  And to his credit, he only said “feel the burn” once but I let him get away with it because I could actually feel my legs burning at the time.

He just helped me do what I knew I needed to do, but with more intensity and focus than if I was on my own.

As I said, I have always been active but rarely have I considered myself fit, other than a few times in my life and when I look back on those times, there are a few similarities in these moments that fit with how we work with our clients on their financial fitness.

The fittest I have ever been was when I was in the Army, on a deployment (that makes sense you say), but at the start of the tour, I weighed 125kg and was barely passing my fitness tests.  Four months later I was 98kg and maxing out on the tests.  The key factor in this transformation was my mate Aaron who provided a bit of coaching and advice.  The other time was when I was training for a half-marathon and I was training with another mate Joel who acted a bit like my conscience by reminding me at 5:30 am that it was time for a run, and encouraging me to do one more lap.  You can’t get that sort of help from the internet or a magazine either.  Knowing what to do is one thing and most people know what to do to achieve their goals, but the missing link to success is having someone to keep them on track.  My mates were able to help me do what I already knew I needed to do… eat less, drink less, train hard, then do a bit more.

Personal Trainer At The Gym

Financial coaching works in the same way.  The internet and magazines are full of great information and ideas that may work for you but when you boil it down, it is just information.  Information is different to advice, and advice is different to coaching.  Information is simply a collection of statements (the percentage of fact within depends on the publication or website).  Advice is the game plan that confirms the goals and lists the actions required to achieve them, with a few contingency plans to account for the unforeseen.  The coaching is what makes it happen.

Advice and coaching go hand in hand.  Can you imagine a football coach doing only one or the other?  Picture Mick Malthouse e-mailing the boys a copy of the game plan for tomorrow’s big match and signing off the e-mail with a ‘good luck guys, let me know how you go’… or trying to coach them to a win by shouting captain-obvious statements like: “kick more goals.. and don’t let them get any!”.  That’s like a financial planner saying to his clients, “here’s your 40 page advice document, good luck and let me know how you go” or “you should earn more money…. and try not to spend so much”.

Everyone knows these things, they are just pieces of information that can be found in a magazine or website.  Stating the obvious is just a waste of everyone’s time.

The key is in the coaching, like Mick standing on the sidelines reminding everyone of the plan and their part in it, or my personal trainer getting me to do 5 more reps.  I he didn’t show me anything new, he just helped me do what I knew I needed to do.  As a result I stand a much greater chance of achieving my goals with his help, than I do if I walk into the gym on my own with armed only with a gym program.


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