Invest in Yourself by Matt Shiver

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Invest in Yourself

Joining a gym or hiring a remote coach can be an expensive purchase. Let’s talk about why you should do it!

CrossFit or Strength and Conditioning Gym: $50-150/month
Hiring a remote coach: $50-200/month (based on experience)

Joining a Gym

When you join a gym, you are entering a new community that is going to push you harder and SMARTER than you have ever worked before. You are signing up for having a support network to hold you accountable every day. You are not purchasing ONLY a workout plan. You are purchasing a lifestyle that is motivating and pushes you to work hard.

Joining my first CrossFit gym was the best investment I have ever made. It introduced me to an atmosphere that did not accept mediocracy. It pushed me to be better every day. That support that I got inside the gym pushed me to be the best at everything that I did in and outside the gym. That extra energy that I was getting during my workouts, turned into extra energy that I had for the rest of the day. I started waking up early. I started going to bed early. I started to eat to fuel my performance. The gym taught me that if I could push hard in my workouts when I thought that I had nothing left, that I could do the same thing in my studies, relationships, and extracurricular activities. After joining a gym that had that environment I changed. People say that change is hard. It is UNLESS you surround yourself with people that you want to be like. By surrounding yourself with people that are better than you and motivate you to become better, you will CHANGE.

I am a huge believer that we are the average of the 5 people that we surround yourself with most. If you go to a cheap gym with average people, you are only going to be average. By joining a gym that is full of talented athletes, you will become talented. Stop settling for being average, join a gym that will make you get outside of your comfort zone and that demands for excellence.

Most gyms cost $50-150 a month. With that, you are spending anywhere from $1.50 to $5 per day on your membership. If you skipped getting your coffee in the morning at a coffee shop and reduce the number of time you eat out during the week, you can save money by joining a gym! Many people have no problem spending $100-200 worth of supplements but they won’t spend more than $30 on a gym membership. If only they knew that joining an environment that DEMANDS excellence they will obtain better results than the results the expensive supplement stack gives them. A supplement stack may give you a 5% increase in performance. Joining a gym that pushes you past your limits puts that 5% to shame. I promise you that.

You have to ask yourself, is spending an extra $5 per day is worth it? Like I said before, the returns that you will get extend past the results that you will get in the gym. You will have more energy throughout the day, you will learn how to be more efficient with your time, you will have a larger support network, you will have some really strong friends, you will be in an environment that supports LEARNING, you will have opportunities to network inside your gym, you will form better habits, you will be a better human being, and you too will know that if you can make it through a tough workout with your heart rate high or your legs on fire, that you too can get through your stressful day, etc.

What if there are no gyms with the environment that I want?

I know there are some people that lack the opportunities to train at a gym that has the they want environment. Some places across the country or world don’t have a strong strength community. With that, you have to put it on yourself to CREATE that environment. If getting strong and having yourself pushed is important, start a culture in your area that supports that. When I was at Appalachian State, I had a great gym to train at. Dynamic Fitness and Performance was newly renovated with multiple purchases from Muscle Driver and Rogue. They had all the equipment but they lacked the energetic environment. I put it on myself to create it! Myself and another student took over the University’s Strength and Conditioning Club. At the time, it was an educational club that brought in guest speakers to teach people about the field. We decided to change the name of the club to the Mountaineer Olympic Weightlifting Club. We made a relationship with Dynamic Fitness and Performance so that we could reserve the platforms 3-4 days a week for the semester. We lowered the rates that the club would have to pay to have membership at the gym. Once we had the club set up, we attended Club Expo. Here we set up a booth for thousands of undergraduate students to meet. We grew from a small interest group to real club! We created a social media page and hosted weightlifting meets throughout the semesters to introduce more people to weightlifting. Once we had the club members, we got a great coach. We interested a graduate student in the Strength and Conditioning program at Appalachian be our coach. In just a few months we created an environment designed for success. We created leadership positions in the club that took the pressure off the coach, the gym, and the original two leaders of the club so that we could all have fun and train together. If you dream about it, plan it out, and create the environment it will grow.

If you don’t have a gym in your area and cannot afford buying the equipment necessary, that is fine. You should still create an interested group of people who want to get better. Meet with them every day to workout with the equipment you have. If you have nothing, you can always do calisthenics, run, plyometric training, and lifting random heavy objects and carrying them. CrossFit has given so many ideas for what to do with no equipment. Just type into your search bar “CrossFit travel workouts” to see the thousands of search results that pop up. Get a group of people who want to work hard and train together. Environment is and always will be king!

Hire a coach!

For those of you who already have an amazing environment but lack the mentorship of a good coach, you should get a coach. I cannot tell you how much having a coach helps. Even coaches need coaches! Even if you are the smartest coach in the world, hiring a coach will make you better. That coach does not have to be at the same level as you intellectually, but they will still be able to help you reach your goals. They give a second set of eyes. They don’t overthink your training plan. They get the feedback that you give them, and they structure your plan accordingly. They make you work on your weaknesses. They push you outside of your comfort zone. They make sure that your plan is balanced. They make sure that your workout/life is balanced. A good coach will give you just the right amount of work to make you better.

If you invest in a coach, you are investing in your progress. They are held responsible for your progress. It is also important to look at hiring a coach as a learning opportunity. Hiring a coach is like buying a book to learn from it. You can download all the e-books and read all the blogs and articles online but you will never get to know how a coach really trains their athletes unless you go through their training program with them overseeing you. I thought I knew what the Texas Method was after reading Practical Programming, but it wasn’t until I hired the coach who created the Texas Method till I really understood what it was. My 5RM went from 315lbs to 400lbs in less than 30 weeks with only a 4kg increase in bodyweight. No book could have taught me that. Only a coach that understand how to program and how to work with athletes could have got me to that goal in that amount of time.

If you hire a coach, make sure to stick with them longer than a month. Do not be a program hopper! Stick with them for an entire training cycle. Most of the time athletes have to get worse in order to get better. Coaches and athletes both know that, but when we are programming for ourselves we seem to forget it. Once we go through a time of getting worse, we freak out and try to change everything. Programming for ourselves can really take the fun out of training. Give that power to someone else. Let them do the thinking so that you can train. We all got into training because it was FUN. The moment I let go of my own programming, was the moment that I began to enjoy the process of training.

To conclude, you are never going to know the progress that you will have by joining a gym or hiring a coach until you do it. For at least one month, set aside some money or budget accordingly to allow you to join a better gym or hire a coach. Many gyms have a drop-in policy that allows for your first visit to be free. Try as many gyms as you can until you find what you are looking for. If you are looking for a coach, do the same thing. Try it! I promise you won’t regret it!

About the Author:

Matthew Shiver, CSCS, SPT

Current Doctor of Physical Therapy Student at Duke University. Graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science and Minor in Nutrition Studies. Co-Founder of Appalachian State’s Mountaineer Weightlifting Club. Olympic Weightlifting Coach at Bull City CrossFit. NSCA – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

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