Can sticking with exercise for a lifetime really be enjoyable? Yes, says Robert Hopper, Ph.D. in his latest book, Stick With Exercise For A Lifetime: How To Enjoy Every Minute of It!
As a fitness trainer or fitness coach, my job is to keep my clients excited and motivated to exercise. Some people see me once a week, some twice, and some four or five times, but what they all have in common is a commitment to themselves. My clients pre-pay, they pre-book, and are fully charged for late cancels or no shows, which keeps them focused.
While many Pilates teachers require their clients to learn about the equipment and how to set it up on their own, I do not. While I will teach that is asked, I am well compensated to adjust people's equipment and remember their favorite workouts and styles so that they keep moving forward and feeling better. All they need to do is show up!
My clients tend to be successful at fitness because they follow Hopper's seven "Best Practices" for success:
- They have fun! I love my job and my clients, so we always have a good time. We laugh through the hard work and it makes it a little easier.
- They work with a coach. I push them when they need it and pull back when they need it. I teach my clients correct form and discuss why it is correct. They learn, and they are accountable.
- They join a team. Whether it is simply showing up to a private or duet session, or taking a regular pilates class or kettlebell workshop with me, my clients have joined a team and have other folks to talk to and other people who want them to attend the session.
- They schedule exercise time.This is crucial! Regularly recurring exercise time makes it easier to exercise.
- They enhance performance with supplemental exercise. Really! I have clients who want cardio and go to Soul Cycle, others who run, and still others who prefer yoga and Physique 57. Even better, I have clients who started with me in pilates and then added TRX training or kettlebell sessions with me to increase their overall fitness.
- They set goals for improvement. Sometimes the goals are external - wanting to look great in a dress or swimsuit for an event, for example. Others are performance-oriented - wanting to run faster and further or play better golf or tennis. Sometimes the goals are about pain - I had one client for several years whose first goal was being able to wash her feet in the shower (that's how bad her back was). Her last goal with me before we both moved cities was to play competitive racquetball, and she did!
- They make winning choices at so-called "Championship Moments". Many of my clients are high-powered executives and see me at 7am, sometimes after being up until 1 or 2am. The championship moment is when they decide whether to late cancel or just suck it up and do the exercise. Most times they come in!
Fun is what is most important for Hopper, and he suggests that people start with any activity that they enjoy, whether it's line dancing, martial arts, swimming, or bocci.
My only concern is that this all requires a certain level of income and comfort in spending. And while Hopper does address this concern in about one out of 120 pages, what he ends up saying is, "Don't let [cost] be a barrier for you." Unfortunately, cost, even $10 a week for a class, is what stops many people from engaging in their preferred activities.