Excuses with Benefits
What is the difference between people who get results, or at least make progress towards their goals over time, vs people who never seem to quite get there?
In my early days delivering group fitness classes, it used to drive me up the wall that some people will pay you for a block of training, and then…. never show up for what they paid for!
Yes, things happen for most of us and life gets in the way at certain times, but I noticed there’s two types of people when it comes to making fitness goals. Those who just get in and get it done, and those who seem to continually have a crisis or time management issue week after week, meaning they just can’t seem to get their 30 mins exercise class in.
You might say that some people are just lazy, they don’t really want to put the work in to achieve their goals or their health is just not a priority to them. I don’t believe it’s as simple as that, although those elements certainly play a role.
It’s one thing to put a list of exercises, or a training schedule, or a meal plan, or high protein recipes together for someone to achieve their fitness goals – but that’s really the easy part. Over the past few years I’ve been looking for answers outside of the fields of fitness, and sinking my teeth into reading about the habits of successful people, the psychology of motivation and behaviour and more.
As part of this I attended a short course on one approach to behavioural psychology, and one concept from the course has really stuck with me since then – “secondary gain”.
In short, this means that often when we make an excuse as to why we can’t do what we planned to do, there is a pay off for it.
Before you get defensive, stop and ask yourself, last time you skipped training, declined a social occasion or avoided a meeting you didn’t want to attend – what was the secondary gain you got? Time on the lounge, staying in your trackies or dodging a very boring or anxious situation?
I’m by no means an expert, but in taking a basic understanding of this concept, and applying it to behaviours I see in fitness clients, I can definitely identify that some people just always have a reason not to train. Most of the time it seems on the surface to be legitimate. But when you look at other people, and their busy lives, and what they overcome to keep fit on a regular basis….. you start to question: why can’t the other people just get it together???
Which leads me to my next question – how can I better help these people?
You see, they signed up for a reason. They desire to be fitter, stronger, more toned, less fat whatever it is…. but there’s some under the surface stuff going on.
Yes, the go to in our industry is to bark no excuses! And that’s certainly the easiest, albeit probably laziest way to help people in this regard. However I do take a little tough love approach, and I will ask you what is really going on, if this is a regular pattern of behaviour.
Yes, I have even invited people to stop training with me because they just can’t seem to make it work.
There’s a couple of things going on there, I have a small space and limit my class sizes. If people keep booking in, then skipping class, other members miss out. But also, they just will not make any progress towards their goals. Which is what I’m here to facilitate.
I think if lockdown has taught us anything, it’s to seize each day and make the most of it, don’t you think? If you have a fitness goal you desire to achieve one day, you have to turn up in whatever way you’ve decided to approach it. Don’t miss an opportunity to improve, now more than ever.
So next time you find yourself making an excuse to skip training, be honest and ask yourself what your secondary gain is? You might just break down the barrier that is holding you back!