Are You Doing It Wrong?

In 1983, I started my journey into fitness. I was a tall, skinny, nonathletic guy, and I decided I wanted to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. So armed with only my trusty Muscle and Fitness magazine as my guide, off to the gym I went. Around this same time, I had convinced one of my coworkers that he needed to workout also. Together, we embarked on the journey to get the bodies of our dreams. We had no idea what we were doing, and it showed. But the one amazing thing about the gym is that it is a place that takes everyone in. There were people there who took me in who were also self-taught. Because they had the kind of body that I wanted, I figured that if I just did exactly what they did, I would have that body too. Not an unusual way of doing things—the blind leading the blind. Of course, in less than a year, I had hurt my back and for the next two years I wore a back brace just so that I could bear to do my normal day to day activities. Not to say that this happens to everyone, but it is a scenario that I have seen played out a lot over the years in the fitness industry. 

Getting help from someone that only knows what has worked for them and not for you, or going at it alone, equipped with only your trusty magazine or book, may end up being problematic for you in the long run. My coworker even tried to tell me that he didn’t think that what I was doing looked right. But because he didn’t look the part, and was an engineer by training, I didn’t pay any attention to what he was saying. The end result? My loss—he was correct. Lesson learned. 

     Eventually I started getting real help from pros—people that were                 accustomed to helping people reach their fitness goals. 

What a difference it made to have insight into what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Now fast forward to 1988—I went to my ten-year high school reunion. I was one hundred pounds heavier and I had the body that I always wanted. The real difference for me was getting the right help. Having workouts that were made for me, and what I was trying to achieve; putting science with hard work gave me the results that I was looking for.

In this day and age of the internet, there is no shortage of information. The hard part is knowing what information is right for you. The need for a well-practiced guide is greater than ever—someone who understands exactly what you need and how things should work.

I am a car person, but even the average person is very particular about their car. Most would never take their car into their backyard to work on it when something has gone wrong, or even just to do routine maintenance. Yet we do this with our bodies all the time. I will hear from people that they don’t want to have to think when they workout. My response is usually this:

“How often do you do something that’s really important without thinking about it, and end up with a good result?” 

Other times I hear people say, “I used to do this when I was in high school, so I know what I’m doing.” They say this as if nothing has changed in 20 or 30 years since then. Not only are you not a teenager anymore, there’s likely new information out there on how to do things better. Just like with cars, technology and basic understanding of how our bodies work have improved greatly. With proper instruction and oversight from a professional, we can achieve great results in a reduced amount of time, all without the fear of injury.


- Bill Burnett