Obviously, as someone who has gone from being very overweight to being a Green Beret in the US Army, I’m passionate about health. Physical health isn’t the only thing we’re after here, but it’s certainly a critical aspect of holistic human flourishing. Have you ever had a back injury or gotten the flu? These are show stoppers. You would think we would be incredibly vigilant about the way we care for ourselves physically, but, we know that’s not the case.
Many of you know that I was once a coach at a gym here in Tacoma. One day while I was taking a break between clients, an older gentleman walked into the gym. He was obviously struggling with his health. He was breathing heavy, his gait was short and choppy, and he was probably carrying 40 lbs more than what would be comfortable for him. He wasn’t that old, maybe in his early 50’s. He asked what the prices were for training or joining the group classes. Personal Training is obviously expensive. At the time I believe I was charging $75/session. Group classes at most local gyms around the country are going to run you probably at least $100/month and on up to $300/month depending on where you live. People pay those prices because they have it and that’s good for them. If you have the means to consult with a professional, then go for it. However, this gentleman winced at the prices. He couldn’t afford it.
That day was the prime example of something that had been bothering me for 7 years as tried to help others get healthy. The cost of getting to a certified professional for help is one that most people can’t afford. Add to that, even if you get to said professional, they may not really know what they are doing. They may be an awesome human being with all the best intentions, but they may know nothing about what it takes to actually move better and get stronger. Fitness is not an exact science and it’s not heavily regulated. As a client, you could be very motivated and have all the money in the world, and still end up hiring someone who has a great personality but limited knowledge. What’s even more challenging is the fact that sometimes, as fitness professionals, we don’t know that we don’t know. There were times as a coach where I created program’s with my client’s best interest at heart, only to realize that I was wrong and there needed to be some massive overhauling in my exercise philosophy. It’s a two-edged sword: On one side you have an individual who lacks the economic means to engage knowledgeable professionals. On the other side you have someone who has the means to pay but you can’t guarantee you’ll get the right trainer or program.
The costs associated with things creates a veil that hides access/understanding:
1 – The person that can’t afford services feels a disconnect with the possibility of achieving health because it seems financially impossible.
2 – The person who can afford services feels a disconnect with the possibility of achieving health because, even with the services, they aren’t getting the results they hoped to achieve.
3 – The quality coach/trainer is frustrated with clients that don’t take any ownership and don’t want to do any critical thinking about the process. However, these can pay the price. As a matter of fact, they’d be willing to pay you indefinitely. But they never get real results because they never take full responsibility for themselves.
After losing all that weight as a 17 year old kid, the only thing I wanted to do was help people feel the same sense of accomplishment I felt when the weight began to melt off. After 7 years of trial and error and enduring years of teasing due to my weight, I finally figured it out. No trainers or fancy gyms. Just learning, planning, executing, refining, and going again. My time as a fitness coach taught me that no amount of perfect programming will ever take the place of personal responsibility. Whether you can pay for personal training or not, long term success in physical health is predicated upon ownership. You have to be willing to learn everything you can about how your body works and take responsibility for implementing that knowledge, every moment of every day.
I remember being so frustrated with people. “I have made this process as simple as I can make it and people still don’t follow through and they still don’t engage! What am I not saying?!” Here’s what I wasn’t saying: “No one else can fix you. The outcomes you have in your health are your responsibility and if you chose to not be engaged, in the long run, you will stagnate!”
I also worked in an Emergency Room for a while after I left being a trainer. I thought I might want to go to medical school. In the year and a half I worked in the ER I noticed the same things in patients that I saw in clients at the gym. 95% of the patients we saw were there due to the poor lifestyle choices. Choices that culminate in things like heart disease and diabetes. Of course, a hospital has to treat people by law, so treatment in an emergency setting isn’t necessarily inhibited by costs, however, the fact remains, rich or poor, hardly anyone was there because of events they couldn’t control. Poor choices lead to emergency room visits and if you’ve got enough money, you can pay your way out of taking personal responsibility…until you die from the heart attack.
Ultimately, I have come to realize that until a person is willing to fight through any and all barriers for themselves, there is virtually nothing I can do to help them be healthy long-term. 100% percent Ownership is the first, and most critical task to success. Cost is not the issue… Commitment is.
I love you. Love yourself enough to do the hard work!