My first profession post undergrad was working at a large gym in Minnesota as a certified personal trainer. In my time as a trainer, I constantly changed up routines to add variety and amusement for results. Without results, I wouldn’t get clients to continue training and in a 100% commission based job, I needed them to like what they did. For instance, clients would run sprints up a hill outside of the air conditioned gym, superset their bench press with triceps dips, or use a physioball for less stability- all for an added challenge. This directly aligned with my belief that to help someone’s body change from exercise one must “shock the system”; do something new or different that overloads the physical system. Otherwise, workouts become just another activity our body performs and we hit a plateau -resting at equilibrium.
Frequent “shocks” (sometimes quite literally) helped my clients get results, but they weren’t just physical – mental changes came too. When they took on a new challenge and saw their body respond it reminded them that as humans we are all capable of more. I saw clients find that “more” from their personal relationships and their careers. In my experience, taking on challenges in my workouts makes me take on more challenges beyond my workouts as well; I’m more daring.
For me, the most dramatic change I made to my workout routine was stepping into a barre studio in 2014. I consistently worked out after being a college athlete, but lifting heavy weights or cardio in a gym were my workouts of choice. Why? Because I was comfortable in the weight room lifting free weights or hopping on an elliptical machine for 20-30 minutes of cardio. But on that 2nd day of December I chose to try a ballet based workout as an attempt to “shock the system”; it did. I found myself lifting 2 or 3 lb weights, not my go to 20s, and challenging my body on my tippy toes, wearing socks. This was a change from my well practiced athletic stance in my comfy running shoes. But that’s what I needed- something new, something unknown, something shocking.
In less than two years, I have completed 350+ barre classes and a new environment is just what my body and mind needed. While I could report how many inches in my waist I have lost or pounds of weight on a scale, the main yields from barre include more confidence and a support system – both of which fuel my progression. Now I’m a person that works out nearly every day and the daily challenges inspire me to change things up in areas beyond my fitness. For instance my lesson plans do not resemble those a few years back and I have taken on new roles in my job that I would have preferred to avoid in the past. So I suggest that when you sense a plateau, in any area of your life, find a change, and follow through on that change to shock your system. Pardon the pun, but I’m certain your results will be just as shocking.