(Note: This article was originally published on my gym’s blog back in 2017, but was recently mentioned on our podcast here. Have a listen to learn some valuable strategies for tracking metrics!)
Your brain is a liar!
Our brains lie to us every day. Don’t believe me? Check this out for 10 minutes, or skip it and just trust me. Unlike your own brain, I would never lie to you.
You see yourself in the mirror a couple of times a day. Your brain wants you to believe that you actually know and recognize yourself. It would be pretty unnerving to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself! So it resists seeing the subtle daily changes.
Over the span of six months, you will have noticeably changed. Some people more than others, sure. But your brain will lie to you and tell you that you’re the same. One problem with coming into the gym and working your butt off without tracking your results is that you are allowing your brain to construct a lie.
Lucky for us, our brain is pretty rad. (If “rad” is out of date, I’m bringing it back)
We have the ability to step out from our own view and into a 3rd-person perspective. That’s one aspect of meditation. It’s also what the scientific method is for. Science is just a system for trying to keep our brains honest. It’s a trick to get around the lies our brains tell us. Tracking specific data is one of our attempts to see things from an impartial, third-person perspective. Math (probably) doesn’t lie.
I know some of you are thinking, “Well, that’s just not me. I’m not a numbers person. I just know it’s working based on how my clothes feel.”
If you are more the “I go by feeling- not numbers” person, you are at even greater risk of lying to yourself than the number nerd. (I feel I can pick on both groups because I’m a bit of both.) There will be a time when you don’t feel good. We have to have the down, in order to experience the up. Two sides to the coin, yin/yang, all that stuff. So, it’s ok to get down once in a while. It’s at those times you need the numbers. The numbers can keep you going. Having tangible results that show your overall trajectory as going up can go a long way to encouraging you to keep at it, even when the feeling is letting you down.
Sometimes you have to keep dancing, even when the music stops. Stay out there on the dance floor until the next song starts. If you have numbers to go on, it’s like the drummer that keeps a beat going while the singer takes 5. At least you have something to move to.
Maybe you’re right. Maybe the numbers don’t motivate you in the slightest. Perhaps what really keeps you going is our community and your relationships with your Coaches and fellow students. That’s all the more reason to track your numbers. How can your coach encourage you if she doesn’t have any data to see if you’re on track or not? Trying to coach students who don’t track their workouts is like trying to captain a rudderless ship.
Help us help you!
We, as Coaches, use the numbers to make sure what we are doing is effective. We know we can’t just go by feel and expect to be great leaders. We know our brains lie to us. We need your numbers, to make sure we can help not only you but the person next to you. We are only interested in teaching fitness concepts that actually work. That’s one thing that separates us from the fitness fads. A fad might be fun, but if it’s not producing results you should at least know that it’s just entertainment. Numbers help direct us as leaders. The numbers are our polygraph, they tell us if our methods are a lie or truth. The next member to join will get a better experience because you tracked your workouts!
We’re all in this together.
It’s not just about you. Some of your friends and family will be moved by you. You are probably even inspiring a fellow classmate that you don’t even realize- even if you’re brand new. That person might need the numbers. That person might hear you talk about the 2-minute improvement you made on a benchmark workout. Numbers make it real for some people. You have a tremendous opportunity to impact others’ lives here. Why miss such an amazing opportunity when tracking is such a small effort?
Finishing your workout.
We put an enormous amount of resources into providing the training app for you. Designing and inputting the workouts for all of our various services is literally a full-time job. We are happy to do it because we know it’s the only way to stay effective. We do it to ensure your results.
But for coaching to work, it must be a two-way street. You tell us what you want, we work with you to decide what you need. We make a plan, you do the work. We guide you to move better, you demonstrate that improvement. We keep you on track, and you let us know if you are on track by recording your workout results. Once we get those results, we can refine the whole process and start it over again- only better!
When you look at that whole process, doesn’t it seem ridiculous to not track your workouts? It’s like tripping right at the finish line. We’ve all done the hardest parts already, then it goes unaccounted for on the second-to-last step. Kind of sad when you think of it that way!
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you of the importance of tracking your workout results. If not, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me again.
If you’re traveling to a destination, there are two things you must know in order to get there:
- Where you are.
- Where you’re going.
All the planning and work in between is meaningless without those two pieces. Many of us are on a journey to better ourselves. I assume that you are if you’re reading this.
So remember: You can’t improve what you don’t track.
I look forward to seeing your progress!