By: Zach Columbia B.S. NASM FPT
It’s probably the most abused concept in the fitness industry. The word goal is thrown around, hashtagged, and misinterpreted so much, that to most, it’s completely lost all meaning. Gyms in Scottsdale goers have become conditioned to answer the question, “What are your goals?” with insincere, in-genuine generality. As someone who meets with people daily and asks this question, guaranteed 9 out of 10 people will answer with, “I want to lose weight and tone up…” Really… I mean REALLY? #thisisnotagoal… but not why you may think.
When I meet with someone and I get a general answer, it tells me one of three things:
- This person isn’t being honest with me or themselves.
- This person isn’t serious or committed about changing their life.
- Or Both
Honestly, I don’t blame the individual. I blame the fitness industry.
When meeting with a perspective client, I always follow up the “What are your goals” question with, “Why are your goals important to you?” This latter question is way more important and telling because people don’t really care all that much about the numbers. Don’t get me wrong. I could meet with 100 people and 90% of them will tell me they want to be a hundred and something pounds. Everyone has an “ideal” number in mind, but when someone says they want to be a 130lbs, they’re really saying that at one point in their life when they felt and looked their best, they weighed that exact amount. Meaning, that their goal is not to weigh a 130lbs, but to feel and look their best. The “Why” behind someone’s goal(s) tells me they understand what they want to accomplish and they’re serious about changing their life.
So, what is a goal? There are thousands of articles about this subject and most of them refer to the acronym S.M.A.R.T. which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. SMART goals provide a framework for setting and accomplishing many small goals to achieve one large goal. This is similar to what we do each month with the Inbody. Scan, set a goal for the month, and then rescan the following month to see how we did. This is a good tactic, but it’s not THE GOAL. It’s not the light at the end of the tunnel, and it definitely isn’t why people spend their hard-earned money each month at the gym.
No one ever walks into a gym to sign up without a reason. I already mentioned two questions I ask someone during their initial consultation. The third question I ask, is “On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to accomplishing your goals?” Anyone who says anything less than a 10 does not have a goal; they have a wish. A real goal is something you are willing to pay for and the currency is sacrifice.
If I ask you, “What is your goal?” and you respond, “I want to lose 20lbs.” Then I ask, “why is your goal important to you?” and you respond, “I’m uncomfortable with the way I look and want to feel better about myself.” This is good, but we really haven’t established anything! What we need to determine is what you are willing to give up and what you are willing to go through to be comfortable and feel better about yourself. In other words, how important is it to you. This is what a goal is.
Before spending time, money, and effort, to accomplish a goal, you need to do a cost analysis in the currency of sacrifice. Ask yourself, “what is it that I want to accomplish?” Then, consult with an expert to get a no BS assessment of what it’s going to take. Ask them not to sugar coat it. Next, be realistic and change your goal to match with the level of sacrifice you are willing to make… I mean really, I would love to be 5% body fat, looking shredded and tan all the time. Let’s face it, that’ll never happen. Am I capable of it, sure! Am I willing to do what it takes to get there? Not a chance.
So here are some takeaways for you. If you want to set a goal, it’s not really a goal until you know what you’ll have to sacrifice to get there, and you’ve 100% made up your mind that you’re willing to do what it takes. Remember that goals are entirely individual. If your reason for going to the gym is to have more energy, that’s a great reason. If your “why” for wanting more energy is because you want to be able to keep up with your kids, that’s a great “why.” If the expert tells you it’s going to take three workouts a week, every week, to increase your energy levels and you’re willing to sacrifice the time and money to go, you now have a goal.
Despite common thinking, goals don’t need to be specific. Like I mentioned, 9 out of 10 people want to lose weight and “tone.” The reason this is not a goal, isn’t because it’s too broad, but because it lacks a reason why, a cost analysis, and a commitment. Remember nothing in life is free. Pay for it in one way or another, and goals are no different.