Let’s face it. Most people seek a Personal Trainer because they want to look good naked. Starter goals typically include fat loss, improved cardiovascular performance and strength and/or lean-mass gains. Or to put it all colloquially – to lose weight, get fit and tone up! The first step is to accept responsibility that the reason you are unsatisfied with your current body is because of your lifestyle. Believe it or not, you can’t attribute that entirely to the fact that you haven’t been attending the gym for 3 or 4 1-hour sessions a week. Ergo, by adding those gym sessions into your week, it’s not necessarily going to single-handedly and sustainably forge the body or life that you desire that effortlessly adapts in real-time to the ebb and flow of real-life. A lifestyle that permits the odd off-week, for example when going on holiday, getting sick or just a particularly stressy week at work.
Your lifestyle is the sum of all the hundreds of small choices you consistently make throughout your typical day. And your lifestyle + your genes = Your body. You have complete responsibility over your lifestyle, and your lifestyle will influence your gene expression, for better or for worse.
Assuming you’re a pretty standard adult working ~40hrs a week, sleeping ~8hrs a night, you cook, eat, keep a relatively tidy home and commute the average UK time of 54mins/day, then this is roughly how your time looks:
Note that ‘Working out’ for 3 hours a week actually represents just 1.85% of your time. Now many, many times I’ve heard other PTs and coaches using these figures to counter any resistance and objections that potential trainees “don’t have the time” to train. It’s an effective excuse-neutraliser, particularly when people assert that they have no time to train before proudly discussing the latest revelations of that bingeworthy Netflix series. But I’m coming at it through a different lens. A wide-angle one at that.
To create lasting change, one has to look at the big picture. And the picture in question is your life as a whole. To be cliché, it takes a ‘holistic’ approach. I know that it really isn’t the 2 or 3 hours trainee spends with me per week that make the biggest difference, it’s how they live their everyday life.
It’s about weaving healthy habits into the tapestry of your everyday life, not haphazardly sewing patches on top of it to cover the holes. Now don’t get me wrong – structured, intentional and focussed training sessions absolutely have their place in your life, but that’s another blog post. Training is just not the be-all and end-all for your body composition goals. You may have heard the adage you can’t out-train a bad diet, which is true, but I’d extend that to you can’t out-train a bad lifestyle. If you’re waking every morning, getting in the car, driving to your desk-job to sit for 8 hours, getting maybe 3000 steps a day, driving to the gym, absolutely slaying it for an hour, then driving home to watch tv (even with a squeaky clean diet), you’re missing out on 95% of the magic.
Enter The Cardio-Commute
Seems so obvious, doesn’t it? So what’s stopping you from cycling or walking even part-way to work? Feeling the fresh air enliven and invigorate you as you get your stagnant blood pumping around your body, which had tightened into a foetal position overnight. You’ll arrive at work with an oxygenated brain, focused and primed for productivity. If you live <3 miles from work, how about walking? It’s the ultimate posture-correcting, cardiovascular health-promoting, head-clearing and efficient way of locomoting yourself from A to B.
Over the years, I’ve developed this autonomous journey planning flowchart that subconsciously filters through my tiny mind:
Over time, you ultimately want self-locomotion to be the default. And that’s what we’re aiming for. I just love cycling to work. It starts my day off great. On top of that, I’m demonstrating to my son that part of being a capable, functioning human involves being able to get yourself places. It maintains me. When all hell has broken loose for whatever reason, and I haven’t managed to do my usual training, I don’t end the day or week feeling like a frustrated caged tiger or a beached whale– because my lifestyle maintains me at a baseline condition of health and wellness.
Now, I’m not saying you have to incorporate a self-locomoting element to your commute – for some people it literally isn’t possible. But listen to your internal objections and critically evaluate them. You may just need to invest in a waterproof bag, a decent pair of gloves or maybe some trainers, but that’s an investment, not an expense. You may have to leave the house a little earlier. So what? You’ll feel better for it. Maybe you’ve got to drop the kids off on the way. My favourite child seat for my bike was the WeeRide that Max just loved! It kept his centre of balance close to me as opposed to a rear mounted seat. He hulked out of it within 6 months though as I was late to the party! Now I use this trailer, which is also awesome! Soon, he’ll be cycling alongside me, and he’ll be developing an attitude for a lifetime of unlimited capability. It’s win/win/win!