Become a black belt in fitness #4

When you want to become a black belt (in martial arts), you join classes - group classes. You will learn everything you need to during those sessions, and you will have the opportunity to practice sufficiently during those sessions. It helps to have others around you, it creates a sense of community, and you can feed off of the energy, atmosphere and environment.

But you want to become a black belt. You don't just want to be ordinary. You want to be extraordinary. You've set your eyes on something special. You can't achieve what most don't, unless you go that extra mile, and do what others won't. You need to do MORE.

You have to attend more classes. You have to get there early for additional practice under the watchful eye of your teacher, and you have to leave later to be there for the discussion of what was done that day. In addition to that, you need to start working out on your own to accelerate your progress. You spend every day stretching for an hour, you run miles each week on your own, you punch a bag hundreds upon hundreds of times... you live the life of a warrior, because it's necessary to become a black belt.

But still there's the occasional struggle. Try as you might, there are hurdles you don't know how to overcome, and just extra effort on your part isn't cutting it. What do you do? You approach your teacher for 1-2-1 coaching. Your teacher has the knowledge on how to overcome all the hurdles you will encounter. As and when you do, you will work with your teacher privately, where they will TEACH you to better understand and to better apply yourself. Then, armed with that new knowledge, you can return to your group sessions and your own training, and APPLY that new knowledge, that new understanding, and gain new ground.

Fitness is no different. At least in the way I personally apply it. Join a group and attend as many classes as you can. Try to get there early and don't be in a rush to leave - you will miss valuable titbits of information that will enhance your training and experience (I was always the first to arrive and the last to leave in my martial arts training). Supplement your group sessions with your own training - in a gym or at home, but do it. Work on your weaknesses, so that when you get to class, they are not weaknesses anymore. When you hit a hurdle, employ a coach (personal trainer) to TEACH you how to overcome that hurdle. Then take that new knowledge back to the group sessions and your own sessions, and apply it! In a pyramid, the group sessions are your large base; your own training is the middle section, and personal training is the bit sitting at the top. The bulk of your workouts, your repititions, your foundation... that's your group session. That's your volume which over time produces the results you desire. Your own training bolsters your ability to apply yourself more effectively to the group sessions. Your personal training sessions enable a better understanding and more effective execution of your own training and the group sessions.

Become a black belt in fitness by applying your volume in the right places, by supplementing that volume with targeted work, and by enabling knowledge and execution with specialised personal training.


Personal trainers are not (or should not be) babysitters. If you can't work out without direct supervision, join a group class. You will have an instructor leading the way, encouraging you, motivating you, providing the workout plan, etc. Dial that in before anything else. It's good to be part of a community (part #5 of Becoming a black belt in fitness!). Then take charge of your own development and start supplementing with your own workouts. Lastly, don't expect to get everything that way - from time to time, employ a personal trainer / coach to teach and guide you how to achieve even more, from the work you're already doing.

As a coach I want to teach you HOW to fish, not just to give you the fish.

Become a black belt in fitness.

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