"I just want to lose weight...."
"I want to feel better..."
"I just want to sweat and go home...."
These are all very common statements made by a prospective client during their initial consultation. It is understandable that folks tend only to think of these as the results of working out. For most, they begin a fitness program simply to solve one of these a binary problems. "I don't feel good...and doing XYZ program should make me feel good."
When broken down in these terms, literally any program could "work". Yoga/Zumba/Pilates/Aerobics/Barre/CrossFit/Running...If you have no purpose, then IT DOESN'T MATTER, which direction your choose to go.
Many of us have been there, we begin a program with no specific end goal in mind, but we know we need to do something. We jump in to our new program with both feet and get that initial rush of accomplishment, and see modest results (related to some nebulous goal) right off the bat. We celebrate these accomplishments by telling everyone and anyone that will listen. We post our results on Social Media, and go out for celebratory cocktails. It feels great!
Is this sustainable? Nobody bothers to ask this question 2 weeks into a new fitness routine, and why would you? You are getting the results you have unclearly defined, so if it isn't broken, why would you try and fix it. Essentially, all we have done is shock the system, and those initial results represent your body trying to play catch up. Sadly we know what happens next.
Enter the plateau...
For some, this lasts a couple of weeks before they figure out a new way to tweek their program, but for the vast majority of people, this can last for months, if not years!
Our bodies are amazing at making adaptations to new stimulus and inputs, it truly is astonishing when you step back and look at the ways our bodies compensate and adjust to our behavior (both in good and bad ways). So, while you may have tricked yourself into some initial progress, or some gains in the short term, if you don't have a plan...you're just exercising.
So...what's the difference between Exercising and Training?
I would say the difference lies in two areas..."Attention" and "Intention".
Attention: Simply put, being aware of what your program is, what it does, and how you are supposed to navigate it. Be aware of what your program will do for you specifically. Will it increase my aerobic capacity? Will I get stronger? Will I improve my mobility? Is it all of the above? In addition, be mindful of WHAT you are doing, and how well you are completing the tasks you are being asked to perform. Simply put, PAY ATTENTION and give every moment your best effort and attitude.
Intention: Have a purpose. Know what you are trying to accomplish in your training. Work with your Coach for Life to outline your specific goals, areas of strength, and areas of opportunity. Then go out and INTENTIONALLY put that plan into action. Work with a purpose each day toward those ends.
Do these things and you will most certainly "lose weight, feel better, and sweat a lot." But these will be they byproducts of a much more rich, rewarding, and effective experience. One in which you will achieve your goals on a deeper and more satisfying level. If you're not engaged in the process, working towards a goal, or tracking your progress in some manner, you're not Training...you're just Exercising.