Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves

Catty WomenAfter nearly twenty years in the fitness business, I have a learned aversion to all-things related to a locker room! And while the men may have the women cornered on revolting semi-public behavior – apparently, every gym in the world has their own “old naked guy wearing just socks striking up conversations with everyone” – But the ladies win when it comes to withering eye glances, catty stares and sometimes overt hostility.  I’d like to simply chalk it up to hormones, but I think it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Women are much pickier in ways; that can work both positively and negatively.  Compared to men, who typically tend to jump first and figure it out as they go, women are more likely to only accept or ask for a promotion when they feel they have fully earned it. As a general rule, women will work diligently on achieving a skill-set and be unwilling to advance to a new or more complex task until they feel totally confident.In this together

JoAnna Barsh of McKinsey & Company sites massive research that supports this. “Women often elect to remain in jobs if they derive a deep sense of meaning professionally. More than men, women prize the opportunity to pour their energies into making a difference and working closely with colleagues. Women don’t want to trade that joy for what they fear will be energy-draining meetings and corporate politics at the next management echelon…Of all the forces that hold women back, however, none are as powerful as entrenched beliefs. While companies have worked hard to eliminate overt discrimination, women still face the pernicious force of mindsets that limit opportunity.”

This is true whether we’re talking about corporate leadership and management or doing a set of lunges and pull-ups.  In training, I find that men will want to do the most challenging thing they can until they get hurt.  This will then cause them to rethink their techniques as in, “Hmm, maybe I’m doing it wrong and should get some help.”   Conversely, women will hold themselves back from proper workout progression due to anticipation of a future injury; “I can’t go up in weight, even though I know my purse and child weigh more.”


Ironically, women tend to be faster on visual assumptions and perhaps that comes back to the underlying “entrenched beliefs driven by fear” that Ms. Barsh mentions.  In a gym, women are much faster to judge a “good” trainer or a “bad trainer” by how big are the biceps or how good the legs look.  Compounding that is women’s ability to quickly cut down other women!  Likely, it’s a poor way of bolstering the negative voice inside one’s own head.  But this behavior really has to stop and we need to be more inclusive of all women trying to improve their health, physical composition and mental well-being.

Lose 10 lbs

Lose 10 lbs

I had the privilege of working with a female trainer who was obese.  She was also a psychologist that specialized in eating behaviors.  Many women would take one cursory glance at her and scoff, deride and judge.  Yet, this trainer worked with fellow obese clients.  And when she said, “You can do this, ’cause I can do it!” they believed her.  I may have all the scientific learning and coaching behind me, but I will personally never know what if feels like to need to lose 100 pounds.  This woman, gave hope to the hopeless and made their hearts, lungs and minds stronger and healthier in more ways than one!

Similarly, I have seen women flock to a “hot” guy trainer who has zero education or credentials, cares nothing for his clients’ well-being save only when they are complimenting him and has reckless disregard for their well-being.  Take for example a trainer without any certification having a 45 year old woman, with DD breasts, bad knees – as evidenced by the patella tracking bands and thirty pounds to lose doing jump squats onto a 6-inch step while holding 10 pound dumbells.  The kicker is that while the other trainers in the room are rolling their eyes, waiting for the “snap” and impending lawsuit, the women walk by, flirt with the trainer and comment, “Wow, that’s what I want to do.”sisters5

While I do whole-heartedly feel that trainers should practice what they preach and look professional, perhaps don’t pick a trainer by their physique, but rather by their credentials and experience.  I have many men clients ranging from high-end athlete, to elderly with Parkinson’s and obviously, some of my most trusted colleagues are men who work brilliantly with women!  But know that with many businesses, women trainers have a longer/slower road to sustainability. And part of that comes from women’s unwillingness to trust and promote other women.  And yet, who can understand better trying to do abdominals while suffering from cramps than another woman?!

Ladies have an internal struggle where we work really hard at self-improvement, but often that self-improvement is tempered by self-loathing.  That in turn shows itself in the petty behaviors towards other women seen in the gym.  We will only truly help ourselves by empowering women around us.  And we need to use the great skills we have to not only better ourselves but other females too.


Goal Setting

“I want to lose weight.” 

Lose 10 lbs

Lose 10 lbs

“Ok. What do you plan to do to achieve that?”

“Well, I signed up for a gym and I’m watching what I eat.  I’m going to try to not eat any sugar.”

And then…three weeks later, no change occurs and the individual gives up on the goal having only gained a sense of guilt and failure.  This scenario, I think we can all agree is unfortunately far too common.

There are actually three different types of goals: Outcome, Performance and Progress.

Goal Setting

Goal Setting

The problem lies in that most people only set the OUTCOME goal.  At some point in the future, you would like to lose 10 lbs.  An outcome goal is the end result of what you are trying to achieve.  It’s problematic because if it’s vague and too far out in the future, then there’s no sense of urgency.

A PERFORMANCE goal is the task you set yourself to achieve the OUTCOME goal you desire.  Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to accomplish losing weight?”

The PROCESS goals relate to the specific steps you must take to achieve better performance.

Let’s take the example of my friend, Susan.  She had a baby and went back to graduate



school.  Having been an athlete, she decided that three years after her son was born it was really time to get rid of “the baby weight,” especially since that baby was rapidly growing out of the toddler stage.  Her OUTCOME goal was to lose 10 lbs in five months.  This is a doable goal: Having estimated that the average woman at optimal weight loss loses a 1/2 lb/week.  That would take her 20 weeks to lose 10 lbs.  Notice, she got specific – she did the math and put a date down on the calendar.  Also, she realistically gave herself an appropriate amount of time to achieve her goal.  With this roadmap guiding her through the next few months, she’s not likely to feel completely disappointed two weeks later.

To define a PERFORMANCE goal she needed to address what she had to do to get the weight off.  She identified three areas that needed more specific attention: 1) Nutrition, 2) Cardiovascular work and 3) Strength training.  Therefore, she set PERFORMANCE GOALS, ways to measure her success for each category.  For example: Regarding nutrition, she ate a balanced breakfast five out of seven days; regarding cardiovascular work she committed to running four days a week for twenty minutes; and regarding strength training she committed to going to a body sculpt class twice a week.

Lastly, she really took the time and thought about her PROCESS goals. “What goals 2specifically do I have to do to get my self to perform better?”  She thought about her time management and realized that she did set aside the time to go to the gym, but when she got to the locker room to change she would start chatting with friends and whittle away the time dedicated to her PERFORMANCE goals.  So she began coming to the gym ready to go straight to the workout. And she steered clear of chatting with everyone.

I’m going to put this into outline form because writing down your goals and strategies will ABSOLUTELY aid you in achieving the best things in your future!


OUTCOME GOAL: Lose10 lbs

  • 1/2 lb/week on ave. for 20 weeks = 5 months.
  • June 1st, 2014 is my optimal date and it’s written on my calendar!!!

PERFORMANCE GOALS 1 – 3: Nutrition, Cardio & Strength Training

1) Nutrition

  • Eat breakfast 5/7 days
  • Eat two servings of fruit/day
  • Eat three servings of veggies/day

2) Cardio

  • Run four x week for 20 minutes – Mon @ 7am, Tues @ 7am, Thur @ 7am, Fri @ 7am.
  • It’s written in the calendar for the next five months.

3) Strength Training

  • Do two body sculpt classes/week – Mon & Fri @ 7:30 am.
  • It’s written in the calendar for the next five months.

PROCESS GOALS: What will help me achieve my performance goals?

1) Nutrition – Meet with a nutritionist once a month to learn what is a balanced meal and what is an appropriate portion for me.

2) Cardio –

  • Come dressed, ready to do my run. Don’t chat – just get on the treadmill.
  • Meet with a trainer at week 4 to determine my anaerobic threshold (heart rate range) and build a cardio program around it.

3) Strength Training –

  • Meet with a trainer at week 6 to assess my strength and learn how to safely increase the weights I’m doing to keep seeing changes.
  • Form a support group with my best friend to help me stay on track.

Goal Setting should be specific, positive and shared with anyone who will help uplift you and be on your team.  When done this way it is a valuable tool to help you realize your highest concept of self!

Remember: “What is your Victory today?”cropped-vflogo-shdw-final.jpg