Let me start by stating, this is a completely different way of thinking to what is currently the norm within the fitness industry. Controversial to some, genius to others - but if we don't challenge our thought process, nothing will change, right?
And boy, do we need a change.
Let me begin by introducing the obese Zucker rat.
Since the 1970's, scientists have been completing exercise studies on rats within the laboratory.
As a measure of research, scientists have created a genetically obese strain of the Zucker rat, called the obese Zucker rat.
This type of rat hates exercise, genetically.
When exercise studies are done on rats, they are put on a treadmill-like apparatus with a shock grid at the back. When the rat stops exercising, it gets a shock, and quickly scurries back onto the treadmill. This is because the shock is more unpleasant than the exercise, right?
When the rat stays on the shock grid, and they can't exercise anymore, this is fatigue.
When the obese Zucker rat is put in a study alongside a "normal" Zucker rat, the obese Zucker rat simply sits on the shock grid. It would rather be shocked repeatedly than exercise! They literally sit on the shock grid instead of walking on the treadmill.
So where am I going with this?
This may sound harsh - but bear with me.
I think, as a trainer, it would benefit me to think of people more like the obese Zucker rat, than of the exercise loving rats. Why? Well, I don't think it is any secret that as humans, as animals, we are exercising less and less.
And, as a result, we are willing to face all kinds of unpleasant consequences over doing it. You know, like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, creaky joints, metabolic disorders, etc.
So how on earth do you coach someone that hates exercise so much, they would rather struggle through life with these issues? How do you walk them along the path?
This is where the point I'm trying to make starts. It's called coaching.
It's looking at each individual, and thinking, "maybe this person isn't just choosing to be lazy, but maybe they have a host of genetic and environmental factors preventing them from getting any pleasure out of exercise at all?"
Here lays the difference between an expert and a coach.
An expert thinks they need to know the next step for every person. An expert thinks they have the "treasure map" set - follow this exercise plan and this eating plan and you will get the best results. Don't follow it - it's your fault for being lazy, lacking willpower, or you're broken.
An expert will also give a client the next step based on what they would do. However, this is probably too hard, not what the client wants to do, and therefore not going to work.
As a trainer (or a proclaimed expert), you cannot empathise with people that don't like exercise, because you do! So instead of trying, pretending, or trying to force your lifestyle and love of exercise onto them, there needs to be this acceptance as to where they are at right now.
In contrast, a coach finds a way to collaborate with the individual. They help the client find their own unique path, instead of trying to force them along someone else's path.
At Evexia Wellbeing, we don't try to be experts in every field. Instead, we have developed a series of best practices, so that we are able to confidently, safely, and individually assist every person with whatever aspect of health they are struggling with the most.
We have worked so hard to create a team of "lifestyle concierges" - a group of health professionals who are able to provide support on any area of health - be it stress, exercise, nutrition, recovery, mindset etc.
As I mentioned at the top of the article, this is a different way of thinking within the fitness industry. But it is time that change is introduced, and client care is made priority number one.
Drew is a personal trainer and nutritionist and is the co-founder of Evexia Wellbeing. Drew specialises in long-term habit change, body composition training, and mindset.