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7 things everyone needs to know before starting a new fitness journey
Due to the overwhelming number of clickbait ads and articles out there, I decided to put my own quick list together of things you need to know when you’re starting your journey into fitness. Here are 7 things, not necessarily in any particular order except for the first, everyone needs to know before starting a new fitness journey:
#1: Not all (CrossFit) gyms are created equal.
The word ‘CrossFit’ is in parentheses because it’s true regardless of the sport-specificity or type of facility you happen to go to. I just happen to own a CrossFit gym. There’s great football coaches…and bad ones. The bad ones don’t mean the sport sucks. The same is true of fitness and CrossFit. Be an informed buyer and go to a facility that has great coaching, an appropriate, effective, and safe program design, and offers more than just a one-size-fits-all sweat routine. Your time, money, safety, and progress are worth more than that!
#2: If your training age is low, get ready for newbie gains!
It’s not a bad thing, it’s just what happens when you haven’t really exposed yourself to something new before. Your lifts go up by 200% in the first year, and I’m not even joking for many people when I say that. As long as you’re respecting the process, listening to your coach, and getting the appropriate dose response of your program (and not eating like a total turd during your off day…but hey, even newbies can get away with murder in this category and still reap huge gains in their fitness—for a while), your measurable work capacity will improve very drastically, very fast. However, this leads me to point #3:
#3: ‘Newbie’ gains are NOT ‘forever’ gains!
If you fool yourself into thinking that the rate of improvement you experienced as a rookie will continue on as you reach an intermediate-level athlete, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Don’t misinterpret this as me saying that plateauing is fine—you still have room for improvement, and the improvement can still happen over many years, and with the right lifestyle choices AND following the right program design, you can continue to make progress. You can still stay hungry for more, just don’t fool yourself into thinking they’ll come as easily as they did in month 2 of your journey.
#4: At some point, you’re going to have to figure out how to fuel your body right.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say ‘I know HOW to eat right, the hard part is doing it.’ You’re right—the hard part IS doing it, but I have a bone to pick with this statement: most people do not….I repeat: DO NOT know how to eat right, be it for heath and longevity OR performance. Even people who are ripped often times are that way due to genetic predisposition rather than having anything really figured out. Understanding comes from tracking, asking questions, trying different things and understanding what’s happening a few layers deeper than just the surface. Food profiles, like programs designs, are not one-size-fits-all!
#5: Show up prepared on Monday!
From a program design standpoint, I’m going to write the workouts AFTER periods of rest as a priority day. Here, I’m operating on the assumption that you’ve had the most rest since your previous session. If your ‘cheat meals’ extend from Friday at 5pm all the way to Sunday night, from alcohol to junk foods, you are setting yourself up for failure on Monday by either being a wreck or skipping it altogether. I’m not saying you can’t live a little bit, but too often the 90/10 rule turns into the 80/20 rule, which then becomes the 70/30 rule, and then next thing you now you’re justifying every piece of junk food or drink of alcohol as ‘moderation.’ Don’t do that to yourself…stay disciplined, stay the course, and indulge yourself OCCASIONALLY. Relaxing needs to be the exception, not the rule, and it’s important to keep yourself on the same rhythm you’re already in with your work: training starts on Monday!
#6: You can’t out-train a bad diet; you can’t out-caffeinate a lack of sleep.
I touched on food, so I won’t go too much further into that. You shouldn’t be eating something because you ‘earned burning it off,’ you should be eating something because you require that particular fuel for the work you need to do. Same goes with sleep—if you rely on stimulants to get you through the day, your hormones are compensating for the fact that you’re not allowing your body to adequately rest. And don’t give me that crap about how you’re a unique snowflake and don’t need the sleep. Show me that athlete who performs at the top of his or her game on 5 hours of sleep a night. Go ahead…I’ll wait. Truth is, growth hormone is produced almost exclusively at night during REM sleep. Your fueling and recovery are MORE important than your training when it comes to making progress.
#7: Learn that it’s ok to change your goals.
You don’t have to love any one particular sport or training methodology forever. This is why I’ve come to enjoy owning and training at a CrossFit facility; almost anything is fair game! Want to focus on your weightlifting for a while? Great…we can do that! Want to get into gymnastics? We have that too! Enjoy anaerobic power interval training? Me too! Want to improve and build a huge aerobic engine? I know how to do that! Do you like a mixed bag? Awesome…have you ever tried CrossFit? Training doesn’t have to be awful or boring, and you’re welcome to re-evaluate your training goals and change things up with time.
There you have it—the top 7 things that came to mind I’d like everyone to know and think about before starting their journey into fitness, regardless of sport specificity. I hope you found it useful!