If you want to accomplish any complex, challenging objective, you have to set clear goals, approach each of your hurdles systematically, routinely assess progress, and course-correct when necessary. That is the philosophy of Mike Robertson, MS, CSCS, co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training in Indianapolis. Robertson, along with many other leading trainers, articulates a fitness truth grounded in the basic tenets of business.
“It’s only when you focus on one or two well-defined goals and follow a clear plan to accomplish them that you start to make real progress,” says Robertson.
“When you go to the office, you don’t just show up and putter around. You go in with a plan, a series of tasks oriented toward a long-term goal,”¯ says Chicago-based personal trainer Jim Karas, author of The Business Plan for the Body (Three Rivers Press, 2001) and The Petite Advantage Diet (HarperOne, 2013). “That’s how you should approach your fitness program as well.”
The payoff? If you walk through the gym doors armed with a solid strategy like the one outlined on the following pages, you’ll not only leave feeling satisfied with your efforts, you’ll also find yourself looking forward to moving your fitness game plan forward–week by week, month by month.
The best part: You’ll get the benefits of working for the world’s best boss. You.
1. Create a Mission Statement
Just as Ben and Jerry probably would have blown a gasket building computer software, and Bill Gates might have imploded dishing up ice cream, your fitness plans will most likely fizzle if you try to follow someone else’s dream or template. You need a big-picture approach that matches your interests, goals, lifestyle and passions.
The first step along the fitness path, then, is to create a fitness mission statement. What, exactly, do you want to accomplish, both in the short term (up to three months from now) and in the long term (a year or more from now)?
“Figuring out where you want to go with your fitness is hugely significant,” says Jolie Kobrinsky, CEO of ThePrimeMethod.com and co-owner of Prime Personal Training in Monterey, Calif. “You’re taking a vague inkling and making it concrete.”¯
Your vision can be athletic, aesthetic or both: You can set your sights on running a half-marathon or losing 25 pounds, earning a black belt or gaining slabs of lean muscle. You can choose almost anything, but it’s essential that you choose something, since the mission statement is your road map for success. It’s the “true north”¯ toward which every workout, meal, food choice and recovery session should ultimately lead.
To get started on the process, think “S.M.A.R.T.”–a goal-setting acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. In the business world, those are the goal-definition standards that help executives set well-defined agendas.
For instance, “getting fit” is a commendable ambition, but it’s vague. Fit in what way, and by when? You’ll have a better shot succeeding if you aim for a clear and achievable target, like losing a belt size by summer or attending a fitness class twice a week for the next six weeks.
The other thing your mission statement needs is passion. What gets you excited? What are you fired up to accomplish, learn or participate in? If you’ve always wanted to dance the tango, learn to fence competitively or complete a mud-strewn adventure race, find out what sort of regimen is required and get to it.
“What you want in any fitness program,” says Robertson, “is skin in the game.”¯ If you can’t come up with a substantial list of reasons why you want to realize a given goal, choose something else that pushes your buttons right now. In business, passion drives profits; in the gym, it drives progress.