“You had A LOT of stuff, you were a complete junkie!”
This was part of the conversation I had recently with my good friend and Senior DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training instructor, Troy Anderson. He was giving me a pretty hard time as we discussed why people perform different fitness programs. What draws them to what they do?
He had to remind me of how bad of a fitness equipment junkie I was! Okay, he didn’t have to remind me too much, I remember pretty well. My addiction was pretty darn strong! The personal training business I had allowed me to keep, what I thought was “investing”, in my business time and time again. It wasn’t something just because I enjoyed it, I thought I actually NEEDED everything I was getting.
I didn’t want to have the gym that was missing ANYTHING! I wanted to have the very best gym in town. As soon I was paid by clients, I was looking to see what I could “invest” in next! Heck, my gym was PACKED with stuff, I had the top squat racks, dumbbells, barbells, bumper plates, kettlebells, atlas stones, steel logs, trap bars, beautiful pulley system, bands, top notch sleds, thick bars, farmer’s walks, hurdles, medicine balls, yoke, tires, benches, rings, suspension units, monkey bars, rickshaw, kegs, chains, about four different types of barbells, climbing ropes, and yes, Ultimate Sandbags.
One of the funniest episodes had to be when I actually moved to my last gym during Memorial Day weekend. Due to the fact that I tried to do things without interrupting my clients training, I decided the holiday was a good idea!
My poor wife, who was only my girlfriend at the time, ended helping myself and a friend move literally TONS of equipment. It was a sight to see, truck after truck load worth of heavy duty equipment made a days move feel like a month’s worth of training.
You might think that all this equipment was relegated to the gym, but not quite! When my wife and I bought our first house together, one of the greatest feats was moving all the equipment I had in my garage gym as well! We both remember the horror we had when we thought my 300 pound plus atlas stones were going to go right through the side of the U-haul truck!
I think the fact that I am probably forgetting a few more pieces of equipment I actually had probably says something! However, the last few years a funny thing started to happen. I started to get rid of it all!
No, it wasn’t because the gym was struggling, in fact, we were doing our best ever. It was something much stronger and more profound to me. A lot of the equipment that I had, equipment that I spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on just wasn’t all that useful to my clients, or even my OWN training.
The busier I became, the more interested I became in streamlining my own training and those of my clients. What worked THE BEST, not training for just variety sake, or being able to fool around in the gym for hours on end.
I started to learn an important lesson, a mistake that I was making. Something that is unfortunately all too common in the fitness industry today. Instead of learning to create better progressions and programs, I was just substituting different equipment.
By switching the type of equipment I used I was making movements feel different and even harder, but I don’t think I was making people BETTER! As I began to focus on what really was important in making someone accomplish their fitness goals, I refocused more and more on those two important P’s, progression and programming.
That is where DVRT became increasingly more important. I started to see where I was making so many errors in not working on all the aspects of fitness, strength, stability, flexibility, and endurance. Forcing myself to do this, I saw how limited and expensive the equipment I had purchased really was in my business! I could do more with less and found that the one thing I could never replace was space.
This began to teach me three of the biggest faults of the small gym owner or the home gym enthusiast.
Not Everything Has a Place: In our politically correct world, I often hear this statement being espoused. If this were true, then the most successful gyms in the world would have every piece of equipment under the sun. Being fortunate to visit some of these places, I can tell you that is just not the case! They focus on what works best and they don’t bother with the rest. We evolve all the time, sometimes we just outgrow the use of certain equipment because we find better methods and ways! This happens in every industry, makes you wonder why it doesn’t happen in fitness more often?
Comparing Yourself to the Pros: When people compare themselves to the professionals it is just like the celebrity endorsement commercials. People think, “if the pros use it, I need it!” The truth is that the professional teams are not always “in the know”, they are haunted by the fear of change and being different like everyone else.
I remember in the early 2000’s clients began bringing me in clippings from popular fitness magazines. They were excited to see that after years of training with me, they began seeing the same tools and methods being used in the top gyms and sports facilities. My point? Sometimes it takes awhile. The fitness industry is full of skeptics and to be honest, for good reason. If something is around long enough and used by trusted people, it can quickly reach a tipping point where everyone uses it over night!
Don’t Follow The False Minimalist: I see it all the time, those that tells you that you don’t need any equipment, sometimes recommends making your own. At first it seems like they are saving you from the evil of out of control spending. However, ever notice something interesting? As their popularity grows, so does the amount of equipment they begin to accumulate.
Pretty soon, the minimalist has a packed gym just like the one I described myself! All of a sudden, instead of teaching you better ways of using the best tools, they start describing more and more equipment you really should have.
The real minimalist finds what works and thinks of their tools as the best of their craft.They keep developing innovative ideas rather than racking up more equipment.
You can always tell the best people to train with and the best places to train at because they have the most important stuff first! They have these tools because they do the best job, they can deliver the best results, they can be the most fun! The best don’t do things because they are trendy or stylish, but rather because they know they can count on the results they provide. When you see people jump from one implement to another, or program to program, you can always tell they don’t have a strong sense of what really works.
My Current Gym
Funny thing is if you look at how I train now, I could count the number of different pieces of equipment on one hand. This isn’t to save money, this isn’t to prove a point, it is simply because it works the best!
Whether I train at home or go to the gym, I pretty much use the same equipment in the same style. That isn’t because I don’t have access to other stuff, I just keep asking myself the same thing whenever I design a program, a workout, etc. “is this the BEST way to train?” That is how my gym is made and it should be the same question you ask yourself!