Personal Trainer

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The Inertia

Buffalo, New York was definitely not the ideal location to live after becoming obsessed with surfing. I was pushed into my first wave by my uncle in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. And little did I know back then that Lake Erie was absolutely capable of producing surfable waves back home.

After discovering this amazing giant body of water in our backyard, I made it my duty to immerse myself (pun intended) through freshwater surfing, stand up paddleboarding, and canoeing. I made a promise to myself that no matter where I ended up, I would always find my way back to the water.

Fast forward 20-plus years and I now live in Washington, DC – also not known for its surf. There is, however, a great paddling community and it’s centrally located in a place that’s easy for traveling both north and south along the coast.

So, for 2018 I set four water-related goals and one lifting goal as a way to follow through on that promise I made to myself long ago:


-Get back into swimming
-Learn to free dive
-Get back into SUP racing
-Surf this summer
-Clean & jerk 225lbs/102kg and snatch 185lbs/84kg

It’s a great lesson on not only how to improve your surfing without surfing, but also on goal setting. Whenever we first decide to pursue a goal there’s always a lot of excitement and motivation. The tricky part of the process is maintaining this motivation and following through. Why is this? My guess is most people focus on the outcome goal as opposed to the process/behavior goals. To simplify, outcome goals are what they sound like — they’re the end goal. Dreaming to have a particular physique, hit a specific PR in a lift, or finish 1st place in the Graveyard at the Carolina Cup next year are all outcome goals. They’re sexy, get your heart pumping, create butterflies in your stomach, and we have little control over them. What most people fail to focus on is what can be controlled: the processes/behaviors/specific steps it takes to reach those goals. And more often than not those steps can be monotonous, mentally and physically draining, and they take time and patience.

So, what can we do to set ourselves up for success knowing that at some point during the pursuit of our goal we’re probably going to want to either take a break or maybe even consider quitting? You need to get organized. I recommend keeping it simple and follow the SMART goal method: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely. I’ll use my goals above as an example:


GOAL #1: Get Back Into Swimming (Outcome Goal)
BEHAVIOR #1: Registered for the Aqua-Bike event of a local triathlon in August. This will give me a timeline and provide extra motivation for me to swim using a more structured program (exact distances, times, intensity).
BEHAVIOR #2: I schedule in my phone’s calendar my swimming days for the week every Sunday
BEHAVIOR #3: I’ve recruited my coworkers as swim coaches to help hold me accountable and give me feedback on technique. I have 5 coworkers I’m working with and meet with one every 2-weeks (also scheduled a week ahead on my phone’s calendar).
GOAL #2: Learn To Free Dive (Outcome Goal)
BEHAVIOR #1: I invested and bought a free diving mask. I can’t use the excuse, “I don’t have a mask!”.
BEHAVIOR #2: I allocate 30-mins a day to static breath work. (Also scheduled a week ahead on my phone’s calendar)
BEHAVIOR #2: I’ve recruited a free diving friend to meet with me in the pool 1x a week. (Also scheduled a week ahead on my phone’s calendar).
GOAL #3: Get Back Into SUP Racing (Outcome Goal)
BEHAVIOR #1: Joining a local SUP Race Club starting in June
BEHAVIOR #2: Register for a SUP Race (TBD)
GOAL #4: Surf This Summer (Outcome Goal)
BEHAVIOR #1: Plan a trip. I have one trip planned to NC in July. How the ocean cooperates will determine my next move.
BEHAVIOR #2: Leading up to/during a trip in July keep an eye on changes in surf during high/low tide and check the local surf forecast daily.
BEHAVIOR #3: Find best breaks closest to where I stay. Fortunately, I have cousins who surf in Wrightsville Beach and I can use them as resources.
GOAL #5: C&J 225/102 and Snatch 185/84 (Outcome Goal)
BEHAVIOR #1: I recruited a friend back from Buffalo as my coach and to help with programming (3-4x/week training schedule).
BEHAVIOR #2: I record videos of my lifts for instant feedback and to share with my friend to critique.
BEHAVIOR #3: Register for a local meet (Aiming for a meet in July TBD).

Looking at the above breakdown of Outcome Goals and Behavior Goals (remember these are the specific steps you take) I think it’s safe to say there are three universal behaviors that can help with all goals, First, having accountability (in my case that was recruiting friends/coworkers as coaches), second, physically scheduling actions/events on an existing/active calendar, and third, finding a way to “securely” commit yourself to your goal. This can be a financial commitment (i.e. registering for an event), an emotional commitment (i.e. making a promise with someone you don’t want to let down), or creating consequences (i.e. If you don’t follow through with a behavior goal you can’t watch your favorite TV show for a week).


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