6 Keys to Becoming a Fitness Winner

man riding bicycle for fitnessMastering the Basics

It occurred to me as I was writing the articles on running and training to become a runner, that as a fitness professional over the past 20 plus years I have seen many people of all ages make the attempt at becoming fit – either by themselves or with a coach/trainer. The reality I have observed is that most people are not adequately prepared to work out, make intelligent programming decisions, or create exercise routines that make sense for them.

I have watched many professionals attempt to start new clients on inappropriate exercises – including those that include advanced compound movements that their clients are completely unprepared to perform correctly. The outcome of these strategies is failure and the loss of an opportunity to make a difference in the life of one who cared and wanted to know how to truly succeed in pursuing a fitness lifestyle. I thought I would share some of my observations with you on this subject so that we could arrive at an agreement that “the basics” count MOST when attempting to change someone’s physical, mental, and emotional life for the better!

The 6 Keys to Becoming a Winner in Fitness

fit men and women posing for camera1.  Clarity of purpose

Clarity of purpose is the first key because until we arrive at a clearly defined “why” we will not be able to engage our “feeling nature” – attaching passion to our intellectual processes – AND setting reasonable, achievable, measurable and specific goals. This step in my mind is the first one we MUST all evaluate before we begin the journey to becoming truly fit because it will take ALL of our thought and effort to succeed in our programming – whatever that may end up being.

2.  Patience

Learning patience is a given when it comes to fitness goals – and programming –  because most often there are substantial needs to be addressed such as strengthening the heart, increasing lean mass, improving balance, addressing dietary issues and so much more. These are all long term processes and will ONLY be addressed over the long haul –and I mean THE long haul!

3.  Pacing

Pacing to me means being able to “take a step back” at key points during the process and allow oneself to remember that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Just because we want something NOW doesn’t mean we can get there by “speeding up the process”. “I gained 40 pounds over the past five years and now I want to lose all of it – and more – in the next 6 months!” Is that reasonable – or even achievable given the circumstances we are facing – OR can we “pace” the progress and get there without drama – or injury? Of course we can and this message must be “installed in the conscious mind” early in the transition on the road to becoming fit.

4.  Lifestyle

Lifestyle and its many contradictions and behaviors are most misunderstood because it DOES require forethought and intention to address these issues before we design the program. The issues related to lifestyle and its impact on becoming fit – and transitioning to the fitness lifestyle include: Emotional issues related to self image and diet, behavioral issues related to thought processes and choices, physical issues related to stress and its many implications on our health, health and medical issues including medications, drugs, illnesses, family history, injuries, medical procedures and surgeries and many more.

These key issues WILL impact the development of the fitness plan and MUST be a part of any conversation related to beginning ANY fitness activities – especially if you are inexperienced and have limited knowledge about these and other critical subjects. On many occasions I counseled people who had been sent to me by their physicians and ordered to “start an exercise program” (a good thing). Yet they arrived on my “doorstep” with absolutely no guidance – or information – on what they could safely perform – or any special concerns that needed to be addressed. I always sent them back asking for further information – with questions to ask – and most of the time I never saw them again!

5.  Fitness principles

In this area I call to your attention what one “CAN DO” – not what one would “LIKE TO DO”. If people are significantly overweight and de-conditioned, then why are they being asked to stand on unstable platforms to do balance work or “stepping up” to a stool with weights in their hands and doing curls as well? I see these and many other inappropriate exercises being attempted all the time by people who have no business starting with such difficult programs – and yet they are – every day.

I see overweight people trying to run on the treadmill when they should be walking or attempting strength exercises beyond their capabilities thinking that is a “good thing”. Primary education in the principles of fitness is KEY to successfully climbing the “fitness mountain”. It all begins with the basics: Learning to do a repetition correctly with the proper weight, with the proper pacing (the 2/4 count for example), the proper breathing technique, and the correct positioning of the body during the movement. There is so much to teach people in the beginning so why aren’t we teachers first? Training is teaching FIRST – and executing properly – with proper feedback and corrections so that the movement is learned correctly and can be DUPLICATED with or without assistance!

6.  The “mindset of success”

I call the mindset of success the ability to visualize and imagine the outcome BEFORE you ever start a particular movement or exercise. Athletes always prepare by visualizing what it is they will be doing even before they set foot on the “field of competition”. The greatest athletes all say it IS in the MIND where we win – or lose. Thought and feeling precede ALL action for the winners in life – and fitness as well. I spend as much time – and in many cases more time – thinking about and “feeling” the result – before I ever take the steps I wish to take on a particular day and before ALL of my training sessions. I couldn’t succeed if I didn’t take this step.

Training our minds FIRST precedes ALL results and this is the step that is most missed or ignored prior to the beginning of our efforts to train others on the benefits of the fitness lifestyle. Evaluate for yourself what it is you wish to accomplish in your own fitness programming and ask yourself this question: “Am I REALLY accessing my full potential mentally, emotionally and physically or am I missing something?” The answer may surprise you but you will gain an insight into your intention and maybe just give yourself the “edge” you have been seeking all along!


The above keys – clarity of purpose, patience, pacing, lifestyle, fitness principles, and developing a “mindset for success” – ALL play a role in helping not only ourselves – but others as well – achieve the best that the fitness lifestyle has to offer.

Preventing injury is only PART of the solution to “what ails us”. The majority of the effort is in proper preparation and implementation of a well thought out program that addresses critical needs and also takes into account the eventual “success criteria” that will inevitably be used in measuring progress – and goal accomplishment.

I hope this article gives you some idea of what CAN be accomplished given the correct information, motivation – and inspiration – we ALL need when we embark on this exciting journey we call the fitness lifestyle!

Author Profile: Nick Prukop

Website: HealthyHappyFit.com      Email: [email protected] Nick is an author, teacher, and speaker and has been a certified personal trainer and lifestyle and weight management consultant since 1992. He is currently recognized as a master trainer by the IDEA International Health and Fitness Association. He has been a runner since 1964 and has accumulated over 60,000 miles in that time.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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