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New Trainer! -Neal Haley-

Hi there! My name is Neal Haley. You’ve probably seen me at the front desk or working out on the gym floor. I have been a member of Fremont Health Club since 2014, but only just joined the team at the beginning of this year.

I am currently studying to get my ACE personal trainer certification and am looking forward to working with clients one on one. Starting at the beginning of April, I’ll also be teaching some group fitness classes like HIIT, Circuit, Butts & Guts, and TB 50/50.

My fitness journey began late compared to other athletes. I grew up in a home full of artist. My Pa is a conductor and music director, my mom is an author, my sister is an illustrator, and my brother is a musician. My family was never very outdoorsy or active and as a kid, I had more energy than my parents knew what to do with. I used to jump rope in front of their tv during commercial breaks and run up and down the stairs in my house for hours on end. From an early age, I had a difficult time sleeping. My energy seemed limitless.

During Jr. High and High School, I went to a performing and fine arts academy where I focused primarily on visual arts. There were no sports at my school, so it wasn’t until after high school that I truly discovered my love for movement. Initially, I only started working out so I could exhaust myself enough to sleep at night. My struggle with insomnia got really rough in my early 20’s and sleep medication didn’t seem to work for me.

So, I worked out. A lot! I took every class I could find. I got a personal trainer and learned how to properly lift weights. And you know what? It helped! But beyond just helping me sleep at night, I realized it brought me a deep sense of joy and satisfaction that I had never felt before. I thrived by challenging myself, breaking and redefining my limits, and competing against the me I was the day before. I met Coach Manny at the club and he introduced me to boxing and it was love at first punch. I loved the discipline, the history of the sport, the warrior spirit it raised in me, the amount of mental energy it required.

Fast forward a few years and here I am making fitness my career. I decided to pursue something that makes me happy, helps me sleep, pushes my limits, brings me joy, and gives me purpose. If you take a class or train with me, I hope it is apparent just hope much I LOVE to move. I hope to share that joy with everyone I work with.

Introducing Rachel Mckay!

Hi Fremont Health Club!


Have you noticed that office just to the left of the front desk when you come in? I will be hanging out there on Monday, April 8th and would love to meet you. My name is Rachel and I’ll be joining your community to provide mental health support in the form of coaching or counseling. Outside of FHC, I enjoy playing in nature, cooking with family and friends, and finding adventure. Keep reading to learn more about the services I’ll be providing or stop by and please come say hi!



Feeling stuck? Does your mind race when you just want to relax? Are you adjusting to a significant change? Life brings trials and we are not always able to respond in the way that we would like. Perhaps you are experiencing relationship issues, challenging family dynamics, anxiety, depression, addiction, or some other trial that has left you feeling hopeless. Often in these moments, we long to be heard and understood. If you’re facing a difficult season, you don’t need to struggle alone. As your counselor, my goal is to meet you where you are at, help you gain perspective, and encourage you toward ongoing growth. I am here to work with you and for you as you gain peace and strength.



Do you struggle with work-life balance? Do you find it difficult to prioritize your health? Do you want to start making healthy changes to your lifestyle but not sure where to start? Coaching services are for you. After designing a customized wellness plan we will meet regularly in order to achieve your goals.


General Support

Need a little extra encouragement to meet your goals? With general support services, receive a 15min consultation, weekly text/email encouragement, and customized suggestions for motivation.



Interested in Scheduling a Free initial consult? Reach out today.


Rachel McKay, M.A., LMFTA


Member Spotlight: Matt Jones

Matt Jones is a regular face at the gym.  He always comes in with a big smile and friendly greeting. We got to talking to him the other day to reveal where this inner contentment comes from. -He enjoys what he does. Read on to hear his story.

Outside of the gym, Matt is an abstract painter. He paints very large pieces and works with designers specializing in providing furnishings and art for high-end residential projects. 

Matt had only been painting for 3 months and just sold his first painting in 2004 when he started Gasworks Gallery. He converted a 3 story, 12,000 sq ft warehouse by Lake Union in Wallingford

into his art studio, that is still going strong today. The building is a beautiful earthy blue on the outside and turn-of-the-century ultra funky on the inside with a lot of natural light. Over time it evolved into an artist enclave with 60 studios and one really fabulous fully equipped photography studio that he now shares with over a dozen photographers.

Outside of the art world, Matt founded a grassroots community project called Every year Mashed Potatoes delivers 2 semi-truck loads of potatoes to King 5 Team Harvest (Washington’s local hunger relief agency). Last December was their 14th year.

Matt says his life as a painter is a total blast! He’s always thought it was more like play than work and his time in the gym is similar. He does his signature Matt Jones 30-minute workout. The secret to his ease of dedication is that his houseboat is about 2 blocks from the gym and it’s easy for him to just walk over, hit about a dozen machines, back-to-back, in 30 minutes and go back home. Matt says he loves Fremont Health Club because there are a lot of friendly people and the sun shines all day in the space.

If you would like to learn more about Matt and his work check out the links below!

Matt’s bio:

The Mashed Potatoes Project:

Matt’s    Paint Dancing project:

Member Spotlight: Rita

I see you regularly working hard in the gym and training with Manny, one of our trainers.  What are your fitness goals and what motivates you to work so hard?

I play flat track roller derby, a full-contact sport which requires both explosive strength and endurance, so my primary goals are: 1) to be able to move laterally and forward very quickly, sometimes from a complete standstill; 2) not to tire easily but, when I do start to lose energy, to fight through it and keep going; 3) to be able to recover quickly when I fall or get knocked down; 4) to be able to move blockers from the opposing team, (who are all considerably bigger than I am) out of my way if I can’t get around them. Besides the inspiration and encouragement Manny gives me, I am motivated to work harder than I ever thought I could because I do not have an athletic background: I never have played a sport in my life, while many of the other skaters have. I also am not very fast, nor do I have great form, so I feel like I need to do something that will at least enable me to be a competitive player, if not a better skater.

How has using a personal trainer impacted your routine?

Well, I never really had a routine before I started working with Manny. Now, not only do I have a weekly session with him, which I affectionately call “Thursday Hurts Day,” but he’s also given me a specific workout to do every day on my own. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) combines cardio with strength exercises; it’s extremely challenging and exhausting, but it’s the best routine to achieve the goals I mention above. I also am really lucky to be able to work with someone who is both a boxer and familiar with derby, because he teaches me how to move my feet quickly, do a feint/juke to confuse the opposing players about my intended direction, and never to stop trying even when I feel like I’m not going to succeed.

Tell us a little about your roller derby league.

The Puget Sound Outcast Derby league is a gender-inclusive, community-based, skater-run group of players of all ages–with a span of more than two decades between the youngest and oldest–and skill levels, from new skaters to seasoned ones. One of my favorite things about the league is that I’m not the only member who is dorky/nerdy and doing something completely out of my comfort zone. It took me a while to find a league where I felt I could fit in; as soon as I started skating with PSOD I felt like I finally found a derby home. We are a very supportive and fun group, and we need more skaters! If you think you may be interested, please feel free to talk to me in person or email

You are smaller than your average player.  How does that affect your abilities as a team member?

As I mentioned, I feel like I have to work really hard to be able to hold my own against a lot of the other players since they are bigger than I am. On the other hand, as a short woman from NYC, I’m naturally aggressive and conditioned to be in perpetual motion, so I don’t like it when people get in my space and slow me down. When I think about how I used to move my body to get around someone or make my way through a crowd–without being seen, since I’m about a foot below the average person’s eyesight–it reminds me that if I get lower so that I literally am blocked from view by the backs of the players who are blocking me (ha ha), then I have a better chance of sneaking around them.

What are some of the other things you do and interests you have?

I have been a devoted Pearl Jam fan for almost 30 years now, ever since I listened to their first album in the 90’s. They are the reason I moved to Seattle and why I skate under the name Deadly Vedder. Needless to say, whenever I have a chance to do anything band-related, it takes precedence over just about everything else! But the most important thing in my life that defines who I am as a person is improving the health and welfare of both wild and companion animals. Currently I am a volunteer research assistant on an American crow behavior study; I also volunteer at the Seattle Animal Shelter as a canine massage therapist.

What made you choose FHC as your fitness facility?

Multiple things: it’s a small business rather than a corporate franchise; the space is perfect–lots of natural light, water views, and no loud music; it’s never crowded; the location is ideal; it’s unusually affordable; and, of course, the owner and staff are always friendly and helpful.

Interview with Helen Lafferty

We all come from somewhere and our different stories make up this community that we have created at FHC. Here is an interview with one of our members, Helen Lafferty.

1. You are originally from Ireland. What brought you to the US and how long have you been a resident here?
I came from Ireland with my husband in 1986. We are both physicians, and we came to Boston to do some post-graduate training. We thought we were going to stay for three years but somehow ended up staying quite a bit longer than that! Now I have lived in the US for more than half of my life! The years have flown by.

2. Did you become a citizen?
Yes! I became a citizen, because I wanted to be able to vote. And I do vote!

3. What was the process like?
At that time were living in New Mexico, so we had to travel long distances to get through certain parts of the process. Apart from that, it was easy!

4. Do you have dual citizenship?
Yes. I would not have become a US citizen if that had meant giving up my Irish citizenship. Being Irish is still a huge part of my life and my identity. But I am happy to be a citizen of the country I actually live in.

5. What has caused you to take multiple trips back there lately?
Well, my Dad died in January this year. It was very, very difficult for me to be so far away when that happened. I made three trips to Ireland this year because of that – for his funeral, getting his house ready to sell etc. Then, after that, my husband’s sister died at age 58, so we made another trip to Ireland for her funeral. In October I made one more trip for a family wedding (my fifth of the year!), and it felt good to finally go back to Ireland for a happy event!

6. Have you felt it difficult to be a part of two worlds, and what are the things that make you feel most connected to your home in Seattle?
For me it has been very hard to be part of two worlds and to have two places I call “home.” I love living in the US, but it has also been hard for me to be so far away from Ireland, especially from my parents as they grew older and I was not there to be able to help them. I imagine many, many immigrants to the US feel that same yearning and pull to the country of their birth. I don’t think it ever really goes away. My husband and three adult children are here in the US, so this is home for me now! But I will always love Ireland dearly, and I hope to continue going back there regularly to enjoy my beautiful country of origin.
I think Seattle is a wonderful city to live in. It is just the right size for me – not too big (or too small!). It has the best climate in the US for an Irish person – not too hot or too cold! It has all the art galleries and music venues and bookshops that I love to have close by, and it is easy to get around – I walk as much as I can around the city. Best of all, it has beautiful nature that is very close by. I have lived in quite a few places in the US, but Seattle is where I will stay!

7. You stay in great shape. How has FHC been a part of this journey?
I LOVE Fremont Health Club! The teachers are wonderful, the staff are all very friendly and helpful, and the schedule of classes is great. I do not use the machines, but I go to a lot of classes. I have met many wonderful people at FHC and made some great new friends through the gym as well.
My Dad was almost 92 when he died in January, and he had been going to the gym three times every week until a couple of months before he died. He inspires me every single day to try and stay as fit as I can for as long as I can. FHC is helping me along that journey, and I am really happy to be a member of this gym.

8. Anything else you would like our members to know about you?
I ride my bicycle with my husband – that is our entertainment! Last year, we cycled across the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park in Montana. That was HARD! But we love to be outside as much as we can, enjoying this beautiful earth we live on.
My other form of entertainment is singing. I sing with a great choir in Seattle – Seattle Pro Musica.

Thank you Helen for sharing your story and for showing us what a privilege it is to vote!

Meet Kristin Varner – an incredible illustrator and a loyal FHC fitness enthusiast


We were so impressed by Kristin’s work, we wanted to share it with you. Check out the Q&A below to learn a bit more.


Q: Tell me about your published work.

A: I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator for about 18 years. My first published work out of college was mainly editorial illustrations for magazines, newspapers, and brochures. Over the course of my career, I’ve created art for television commercials, educational books, toys apparel and other products. However, the last few years I have been fortunate enough to focus on my true passion which is children’s book work. I have one picture book published titled, PINK CUPCAKE MAGIC, written by Katherine Tegen and published by Henry Holt and Co. I am currently working on another picture book (writing and illustrating) as well as a graphic novel that I hope to be sending out to publishers soon.

Q: What got you started in this field and what are your goals?

A: I’ve been drawing since childhood and by high school, I began to take it more seriously. I attended art school at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and graduated with a BFA in Illustration. I was never exactly sure what area of Illustration I wanted to specialize in, but the whimsical nature of my work lent itself to the children’s market. I have always loved and collected children’s books, so naturally, to create them has been a lifelong dream of mine.

Q: Have you hit any obstacles, and if so, how did you get through them?

A: How to survive financially has been the hardest obstacle I’ve faced living the life of a freelance illustrator. Concentration in the children’s book industry has been particularly tough due to the market being so over-saturated with the many talented illustrators out there. It’s been a rough go at times and I’ve had to take less desirable jobs to make ends meet, but keeping goals in sight and never giving up when I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel have kept me going. Also relying on my people skills has helped me tremendously, as I’ve been fortunate to forge many good relationships with clients that have continued over the years.

Q: Tell us some more about yourself and your family.

A: I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah and still find my happy place, skiing or snowboarding in the mountains here in the Pacific Northwest. I lived for several years in Brooklyn, New York, where I met my husband. We moved to Berlin, Germany where our daughter, Francis was born. We were pulled back to the States by the mighty Amazon giant, and have been here in Seattle for the past five years, and happy to call Fremont our home. I love traveling, enjoying time with friends and family, riding bikes, and I’m also a bit of a history nerd.   

Q: How has FHC been part of your life and for how long?

A: Several years ago, I was a member at one of the large, club gyms in town which I had joined for the child care option. However, my daughter, Francis,  who was nearly 2 years old at the time, absolutely loathed this gym and would cry incessantly until one of the employees would come fetch me. I was rarely able to get a full workout in. My husband discovered and joined FHC first, and after meeting Lillian he thought that Francis would be much happier with a smaller setting and Lillian looking after her. I decided to give it a shot and quit the other gym. Francis was comfortable with Lillian right away.  That was nearly 4 years ago, and I’ve been coming to FHC ever since and Francis still does too. In fact, I have to be secretive about going when it’s just myself on days when Francis is at school. She loves the gym and always wants to go see Lillian.

Q: How do you stay motivated to keep fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle?

A: I try to stay in tune with what is going on with my body, and I’ve always been the type of person that gets very cranky if I’ve been working too much or haven’t been to the gym or gone on a run for a few days. Keeping it all in balance makes sense when it comes to diet, exercise and everything else. I cook more often than not so I can monitor more closely what our family is eating  (even though dining out in Seattle is such a treat). I like getting hooked on routines and the noontime classes at the gym have been a game changer for me. I really look forward to those days and the anticipation of not knowing what the instructor will be throwing at us. I also look forward to gym sessions on my own where I finally have time to put on my headphones and listen to podcasts that I like to follow.  I even find that some of my best inspiration for work comes when I’m out on a run or sweating it out.

follow Kristin at: Instagram // Facebook // Twitter

An interview with Dace!

An interview with one of our members, Dace. This is a good read and inspiring.
You seem to have encompassed your workout into a healthy and balanced lifestyle.  What motivated you to start and how do you keep a good routine going?
 In terms of health and weight issues, sometimes, it seems, the very beginning of our lives sets on a course that we would not have chosen, if we had a choice, or even if our parents had a choice:  the first years of my life were spent in a refugee camp in Germany following World War II, which meant starvation, no medical care, not even bare essentials.  All of that impacted my life, in terms of health and disordered eating for decades, as it did my siblings and all my friends from that era.  I struggled with disordered eating from my teenage years, for decades, with the deep-seated fear that, “If I don’t eat it now… all of it…. there won’t be any food tomorrow….’ and, for years, there was no food tomorrow. It has been a long journey toward determined health and fitness and I think the bottom-line advice I would give anyone, struggling with anything, is Never Ever Give Up!!!
A few years ago, I returned to my homeland, Latvia, for the first time since being born there and having to flee because of WWII.  It was an epiphany for me and that first trip has impacted my life in a powerful and wondrous way now for years.  I was on my own; renting an apartment, walking miles daily, learning to adjust to weather issues, re-learning the Latvian language, creating new communities — all very challenging and very wonderful.  I have always wanted to travel but circumstances were such that I couldn’t.  Finally, in Latvia, I began to satisfy that hunger by taking bus trips all over Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  Those trips were mostly Senior Expeditions, so very reasonable and  now I have been on more than 20 trips all over the Baltic countries and elsewhere, as well as fulfilling my dreams of climbing volcanoes in Iceland, climbing huge mountains in Iceland to view hidden waterfalls, climbing the Giants Causeway in Ireland, and most recently, a long ocean-going ‘raft’ ride in the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal, to view ancient ruins only visible from that wild ride.  Absolutely exhilarating!  Over the past few years, have conquered fear of flying.. now cannot wait to get on an airplane… fear of heights… no more… and the turbulent rafting trip in Portugal, dealt with my fear of being on turbulent waters, since I never learned to swim!  Again, my advice to anyone is:  Never, Ever Give Up!!!!
You do a lot of traveling and stay on extended trips.  Where do you go and how do you stay active while abroad?  Share some of your favorite experiences.
When choosing where to go, I purposefully look for a excursion which includes physical activity that is challenging – sitting on a bus is not very healthy, so when we arrive at our destination, or stops on the way, it has been absolutely thrilling for me to challenge myself with long hikes through primitive woods in Latvia, hours climbing steep cliffs, exploring islands where one would not be surprised to discover a sleeping dinosaur– non-meat eating, of course… because the setting is so isolated and primitive; hours hiking along boardwalks built over bogs for the purpose of sighting wildflowers, wild orchids in particular, hours walking to an isolated island to hang out with the wild horses who live there…. and my Bucket List is endless:  I want to explore Greenland, Gotland, the Faroe Islands, more time climbing near glaciers in Iceland and more challenging sites, where fitness is important to be able to enjoy the setting.
Tell me in a few words what “The Third Place” means?
All of this is related to working out at the Fremont Health Club, my Third Place:  I love books, so am thrilled when a new bookstore opens.  When Third Place Books opened in Shoreline some years ago, their philosophy was and still is:  we all need a Third Place:  In community building, the third place (or third space) is the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the office (“second place”). Examples of third places would be environments such as cafes, clubs, public libraries, or parks. In his influential book The Great Good PlaceRay Oldenburg (1989, 1991) argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.  The Fremont Health Club has been that gift to me, in countless ways.  Too many of my friends in their 70s, with empty nests, no family close by, isolate themselves and develop unhealthy lifestyles.  They need the Fremont Health Club!!!
What did you do before you retired?  
I worked for the  House and Senate in the Washington State Legislature, helped run – successful — political campaigns, and still love politics and those of my friends who are still in office or are involved in politics.  We have many animated political discussions at the Fremont Health Club, and that adds to the energy and fun of that very important Third Place atmosphere:  any point of view is accepted, even if not one’s own.
Now that you have the time to do other things, what are some of your favorite activities?
In terms of passions in addition to fitness efforts, I love being a Grandma and wish my grandchildren lived closer, so we could have adventures together; love to garden and there, also, fitness is important, as I have to haul huge bags of soil and compost from store to Queen Anne, up many stairs, dump in wheelbarrow and use in my flower beds!  All wonderful FUN but not if one does not work out!  I saw a sign in a gardening store some years ago that said, “Gardening Is Not For Cowards!”  The same is said about aging and many other life challenges:  working out at the Fremont Health Club has been such an important part of my determination to be that courageous Grandma who has many more mountains to climb, volcanoes to be awed-by, bogs to cross, wild horses to ride!!!!  Thank you, Fremont Health Club, for contributing greatly, endlessly, to my life in a positive way!!!

April newsletter


*Sorry folks, I had some issues with the newsletter and some errors. For those that have received the emails twice, I apologize.We did make some revisions and I corrected some errors. My apologies again for the errors. Please read on*

What can we say about April? That it brings May flowers? No. That would go against my rule about cliche’s and figures of speech. How about we don’t reference the month, but work on being here? Being present. Carpe Diem…darn…it’s so hard to avoid cliche and figure of speech and colloquialisms and other verbal vanities. Let’s focus on how we can enjoy right now, the progress we’ve made and the help we’ve had getting here. With that, I turn you over to the capable hands of the residents of our humble house newsletter. It is overflowing with good stuff from our very own trainers and instructors as well as our members.

Live well my friends and enjoy today.

Tango til’ they’re sore*
By The Gracious Body

So, the Tango begins my friends. I’m taking things to the next level.

Many years ago, I was a bartender with a service industry schedule. Which meant

Help Wanted

Group Fitness Instructor
Part-time job
The Fremont Health Club is a community gym with a strong group fitness class program and we are looking for passionate instructors with evening and weekend availability (Friday evenings a plus) to add to our team – both regular schedule & sub opportunities!

If you are team-oriented with a mind for modifications and creative class formats, we want to hear from you! We offer competitive pay & commissions for full classes.

Have an established client base? Bring them with you — we offer instructor comps and non-member class drop-ins. Fremont Health Club is a locally owned & operated gym with enthusiastic and motivated members!

We are specifically looking for instructors with a minimum of 1 year experience teaching:

Strength Conditioning
Tabata, etc.

Contact us by replying to this post with resume, references and pay expectations.
Certification and experience is required.

Must be willing and able to:
Have strong communication skills.
Be early to class to meet clients and sign them in to class.
Ability to motivate, correct form and adjust for all levels of clients need during session.
Willingness to connect and encourage clients.

Fremont Health Club
920 N 34th St. Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98103

920 N 34th St, Ste 200
Seattle, Washington 98103

Katelyn Page

Since I’ve been here at Fremont Health Club, the compliments and comments Katelyn Page has received have been plentiful. “She’s so creative” “She’s so inclusive” “Where did she get all of those freckles?” are among some of the things I’ve heard. We finally have a moment and are able to get some comments from Katelyn herself. So, without much more ado, a few words from Katelyn: READ MORE HERE

Blueberry Quinoa Cereal recipe from
Adriana Medina-Cagan

Around the club, I’ve seen this delicious but strange looking concoction every morning that I get here. Though it looks partially inedible, I can say that it is delicious, good for your stomach and smells great. Adriana was kind enough to pass along the recipe to us all. It was originally contributed by Lina Federko.

Adriana is available for training at Fremont Health Club. Contact her via

*Recap of Blacklight Boxing*
How to properly tape for boxing

According to those in attendance at Blacklight boxing, it was a success. Super fun and creative and sure to be back some time. We are working out the bugs and hope you enjoyed yourselves. If you’d like to work with Manny on a personal basis, please contact us through Fremont Health Club or

Click on the little Manny to see his wrist taping video.

Fremont Friends Focus
Meet The MariaElena Garcia and Tony Lucero and their son
Toñito Lucero-Garcia

Our members, as we’ve learned, are incredible and as invaluable as any of the people that work here at Fremont Health Club. We have decided to continue and lengthen the focus section this month and are including a couple of our Fremont friends, MariaElena Garcia and Tony Lucero. They were a couple of the first people I met here at FHC and some of the most fun. One of the highlights of my week is hearing the energetic workout and music coming from Tony’s morning sessions with Manny. MariaElena is always fun as well because she is steadily on the move, going from class to class, signing the community board and speaking with members and staff. You’ll notice her by her signature Boston Red-Sox hat, unless the forgoes it for her jet black edgy locks every now and then. Please read on to hear from them. Thanks again MEG and TL!

Read our interview here.

6 Survival Strategies for
Fitness Success
By Devon Johnson-Porter

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Losing 1-2 pounds of body fat a week ensures healthy and consistent weight loss. An overwhelming task if your goal is to lose 20 pounds for a Caribbean cruise set for next year. With a long term goal set it is as important to establish several measurable, short-term benchmarks as well. An example of a healthy short term goal could be a 6 -10 pound fat loss set for six weeks and rewarded with a pedicure or massage.

Letter from Lil’

I just had another birthday and people would say, “happy birthday”.  Maybe it’s better to say “happy seize the day”.   Life is fleeting when considering the big picture.  The temptation to ponder the past or dream about tomorrow are no match to living in the moment. Regardless of where we come from or where we are headed, each of us are on a unique journey, responsible to live the life presented to us today.  So let’s keep moving and let me see your smile when you leave the gym saying, “carpe diem”.

Harley is showing his pal Akira the benefits of cardio training.

Harley’s Howl

“You look ridiculous if you dance
You look ridiculous if you don’t dance
So you might as well
― Gertrude SteinThree Lives

Why we fall short

I have spent the last fourteen years working professionally in the health and fitness industry. As a trainer and strength coach, a health and wellness coach, a hypnotherapist/life coach, and a corporate wellness program director, I can say that I have come in to contact with many different people with many different goals, and there is one question that almost every one of those people have in common:

Why do I not always act in ways consistent with my goals?

Of course, I experience this first hand as well. Even though I am a long time athlete and work in the health and fitness industry, it doesn’t change the fact that we are all fellow humans, dealing with the same psychological issues.

So, why do we fall short of our goals so often? There are many different aspects to address when attempting to answer that question; way more than I can write about here. But I would like to touch on just a few of them to see if maybe you can identify where you might be getting stuck.

To begin with, understand that it is common for most people to immediately look for an external cause to the problem; I need a better/harder routine, I need a different diet plan, I need more money, more time, more energy, fewer distractions, a nicer gym, better shoes, cheese and chocolate and wine need to be less delicious, etc… While some of these may be legitimate reasons (I mean, chocolate is delicious, after all), you will have much more success if you first look at your own behaviors.

Don’t believe me? Here is a simple example to show you that the “sticking spot” isn’t always “out there”:

How many of you know that you should eat more vegetables and drink more water? (You don’t have to raise your hands. First off, I can’t see them. And secondly, when you talk to enough people about this, you realize that most of them have their hands in the air.) Ok, now, how many of you DO eat more vegetables and drink more water? I am guessing that there aren’t as many hands in the air, right? Why is that? You already know the information, and you know what you should be doing. Hearing more and more experts tell you that you need to eat more vegetables and drink more water probably isn’t going to finally get you to do it, either.

But that’s what most of us do. We keep seeking out different/better sources, presumably waiting for that one special source that is finally going to magically stick and lead us to the promise land of a healthy and happy life. Except that we usually never find it, and we keep spinning in our old familiar cycle.

So where do we get stuck when it comes to following through on our health and fitness goals?

First, most of us tend to rely too much upon the feeling of motivation. Feeling motivated is an awesome experience. It is a mixture of joy and hope and determination.  It makes you want to jump up and say “Yes!! Let’s go do this!!” (and then start punching and kicking the air).

Unfortunately, human feelings and emotions are fickle. They come and go like those patches of blue sky and sunshine on a rainy Seattle day.  If we only acted in accordance to our goals when the sun was out, we would certainly never reach our destination. Goals are reached through consistent, sometimes boringly repetitive, action, regardless of how you are feeling.

The cumulative effect of those actions, however large or small, is what brings us closer to our goals, whether it is creating the routine of healthy eating, building muscle strength and size, or losing weight. Relying upon the feeling of motivation just isn’t enough. You have to determine the path to your goal and then commit to the action that it will take to get you there.

How do you get through those tough times and continue to act in ways consistent with your goals when you aren’t feeling motivated? That brings us to our second reason: your WHY.

Determining your WHY might be one of the most important things you can do when setting your goals. The strength of your WHY is what carries you through those hard moments, when you don’t feel like doing the right thing.

“I want to be healthier” is not a very strong WHY when you are tired and hungry, haven’t done your workout yet, and there is a pint of Ben and Jerry’s finest in the freezer. However, “I want to look good in my wedding dress, which I will be wearing in front of 150 people,” well, that might just give you the incentive you need to put in the necessary work. Or, if I tell you, “Do 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 times a week because it will improve your health,” you might get a few days in here and there. But If I tell you “Do 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 times a week because your labs are so bad right now that if you don’t do that amount of exercise you might die of a heart attack in the next 5 years,” I am guessing you might get six or seven days a week in.

Big difference, right? The point is, the more real and palpable meaning there is to your goals, the more likely it is to carry you through those days when you just don’t want to make the best choices.

The third reason that I will mention here is the “deeper conflict.” In this case, you have established a meaningful WHY to your goal, you understand that you can’t rely upon the feeling of motivation and have committed to an action plan…and yet…you keep acting in ways that take you further away from your goal instead of closer to it.

There are many things that can be explored when this happens, but oftentimes I have found that there is a deeper, potentially unconscious, goal operating underneath it all. It might be better explained by an example:

Imagine someone who seems to have a pretty decent WHY, and they are very diligent about keeping up with their workouts, but more often than not they participate in self-sabotaging behaviors, perhaps when it comes to eating. When questioned about it, they may even be perplexed about why they did what they did (and they might even say something like, “Well, part of me wanted to act in one way, but another part of me wanted to act in a different way.)

Usually, this signifies that the behavior that is not in alignment with the stated goal is satisfying a different goal. One possibility might be that the person has an issue with control. Perhaps they had a parent who was really controlling, and now they have a deep resentment around being told what to do. Even though they are being truthful about their stated goal, the deeper program that is running underneath it all is that when they are told how they should eat, they unconsciously rebel against it. The end result is an ongoing cycle of self-sabotage, and only by becoming conscious of the issue can they end the pattern.

Of course, this is just one of many possible explanations, and the three reasons I listed here are just a small sample of the types of things that can get in the way of achieving our goals.

If you need some assistance in this area, I offer training and coaching services in the Seattle area and to all members of the Fremont Health Club. Feel free to reach out to me to see how I might be able to assist you in reaching your goals.

Whether you work with me, with one of the other trainers at FHC, or go it on your own, I encourage you to take that first step.  Ask yourself:

What can I do today that my future self will thank me for?

You will be happy that you did!

Tim Sinnett

Free Rein Athletics


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