The Hippo


May 24, 2020








Ben Hartford

Keep your resolution
A personal trainer talks motivation

By Ryan Lessard

Ben Hartford of Hillsborough is a strength coach and personal trainer at One2One Fitness in Concord.

What’s the biggest mistake you think people make after deciding to exercise more as part of their New Year’s resolution?
The biggest mistake that I see people make is not setting goals properly. They’ll say things like ‘I want to lose weight. I want to get stronger. I want to be healthier.’ But they don’t make them time-bound, they don’t make them reasonable, and they don’t break them up into chunks. A better [goal] than ‘I want to lose weight’ would be ‘I want to lose 10 pounds by April vacation by going to the gym for three days a week and doing a combination of strength training and cardio.’ That is something that is very doable and you can check all those things off [like], ‘I’ve done these things, let’s move on.’
Do people need to be flexible with their goals sometimes?
Yeah, life happens: jobs change, schedules change, injuries happen. So you do need to be able to change stuff up. … That’s why I like to have horizon goals too, because even when you change things up, you change things up in such a way that it’s still going to get you to your horizon goal. … Your five-year goal, your 10-year goal, whatever that is. … Let’s say it is to run a marathon and you break your toe at work, so you can’t run. OK, but we have other stuff that we can do and we’re going to just maybe increase your strength training for a while because you won’t be able to get out on the track.
Broadly speaking, what advice do you have to make sure people stick to their resolutions?
One great thing to help you stick with your resolution is accountability. Whether that’s a personal trainer … or it’s an accountability partner where, if you don’t show up at the gym at 6 in the morning like you said you were going to, they’re not going to have somebody to spot for them and they’re going to be upset. For some people, it’s enough to just have a journal and it’s your daily thing that you fill out that journal.
Does it help to have a workout buddy to keep you motivated?
It helps to have a workout buddy even if you are motivated. If you have a partner, let’s say … you’ve got a partner who can deadlift more than you but you squat more than them and you bench about the same, you’ve got something you’re chasing — their deadlifting — and they’ve got something they’re chasing — your squats — and you guys are always pushing each other on and on with the bench, because you’re neck and neck. And then, if you’re a beginner, you’re trying to get into [the gym], it’s very important too because then … you’ve got somebody who is depending on you to be there, and somebody who is going to notice that you’re not there.
How do you get into the right mindset just to start exercising?
You’ve got to know that everybody was a beginner once. If you have a friend on Facebook that is a gym rat, you might have seen their memes talking about ‘Get ready, January is coming and we’re going to have an influx of new people in the gym.’ But everybody was a beginner at some time. There’s no question that you’re going to ask that hasn’t been asked inside of a gym before. 
What are some of the biggest motivation-killers that you’ve seen in your experience?
The biggest motivation-killer that I come across is people that don’t like success. I come across family members of gym-goers … and friends who say things like, ‘You’re crazy to do that. That’s gonna be hard. Nobody ever does that.’ … You’ve got to find people that are going to support you and tell you that your goals are worthy to have and that your attempt at the goals is a worthy endeavor.
Are there other things people can do outside of the gym, like shopping for workout clothes, for example, that can help them get pumped up?
First of all, if you don’t have the quote-unquote “right” gear, I don’t care. Don’t worry about that. Get in the gym. You will find out what the right gear … is eventually. But basically, a good pair of shoes. … I’ve seen people say, ‘I’m going to buy myself a new workout outfit for each month that I adhere to this plan.’ So people will reward themselves for sticking to the plan that way. … One thing I suggest people do, if you’re on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat or whatever, start following people that are doing the thing that you want, a step or two ahead of you. … It helps to see people who were recently in your shoes. That works along the same lines as having a workout buddy.
In the course of reaching your goals, somewhere in the middle is there a hump that people have to get over? If so, what do they have to do to get over it?
A lot of people will hit a plateau where they stop making progress. The key to that, I believe, is proper training. We at One2One, for example, employ a system called the conjugate system, which, when done properly, is able to mitigate, or negate even, almost all plateaus. But if you end up hitting a plateau anyways, the name of the game is changing it up. … If you’re a marathon runner and you just can’t get your 10 gauge time down, you can’t get your 20 gauge time down, can’t get your marathon down, what I would suggest is go work on your sprinting for a while. Once you’ve worked on your sprinting for six to eight weeks, come back to your marathon. I’m willing to bet you’re going to hit a [personal record]. 
— Ryan Lessard 

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