There is an interesting trend that I have seen over my (almost) 9 years of owning Crossfit Hygge.  When people re-join the gym for the second time, they never last as long as the first time they join.  I have talked to a lot of members and owners about this to get the reason why.  I know people often reference things like starting something you haven’t done before is new and exciting but I don’t really buy into that answer.  It is something I have been thinking about because our goal is to help people to move and be happy.  When someone comes back, they are saying I am excited to get back to moving but it seems it is much harder to recommit the second time.

Trust Enjoy the Process

Before I opened the gym, I played online poker for a living.  Everyone always thinks playing poker is so much fun to do as a job.  And to be honest, sitting at a computer and taking other peoples money is pretty sweet.  However, it comes with a lot of studying and a lot of very high ups and low lows.  The hardest part about playing poker for a living is being process oriented instead of results oriented.

Results oriented is simple – did I win or lose?  If I won, it was the right move and if I lost it was the wrong move.  When I first started, If I put all my money in with a pair of twos against two pair, but got insanely lucky (about 2% chance to win) and hit a 2 on the last card.  I would say I did the right thing and the extra money in my bank account would back that up.  If I was on the other side with the two pair and lost, I did the wrong thing even though I am going to win that over 98% of the time.

Process oriented is about looking at the the steps I took to get to the end result and deciding if I I did the correct thing.  Process oriented means ignoring the end results completely.  For my above examples the correct move would be flipped.  In poker, theoretically anything that is a 51% or better chance is the correct move.  While anything that is 49% or less is the wrong move.  (Yes nerds, I know I am oversimplifying things by ignoring rake and if its cash vs. tournament – we get it.  You’re smart.)

The interesting part about this is that process oriented is the person that will win over the long run because you will make the correct decision time after time. The percentages say that you will win more than you use when you correct for chance.  You can correct for chance by playing for a long time because the more hands you play the closer your real life percentages will get to the theoretical percentages.  For the results oriented player they may win money in the short term due to variance, but they will go broke over time as more hands corrects down to the percentage chances of your decisions.

So what does this have to do with re-joining the gym?  I believe that most people last a much shorter time because they come back to the gym with a results oriented mindset.  They remember where they used to be and want to get there ASAP.  This leads to a cocktail of bad habits.  First, they are solely focused on the end result – “Can I back squat 200# like I used to be able to”? “I never used to get this sore”.  Or “I want to look good naked like I did.”  Second, because the focus is on getting back to where they were they will make poor decisions in their daily workout.  They try to do percentages off their old maxes or they go with 100% intensity on every single workout because they believe it will get them back to where they were faster.  Instead this often leads to crippling soreness where they need to take 5 days off to recover (and then they are left sitting around feeling like they are taking a step backwards) or worse causes pain or injury.  The third and largest downside it that it often makes the workouts unenjoyable because we have set our sights so far out and based only on our performance.  We will be able happy when we squat our old number or crush a workout – this means that any day that we feel sluggish or down is rated as a failure.  The problem is that training is just like poker, it has a lot of highs and lows.  We will have days where we feel great and crush on our workout and days where we got no sleep and move like a slug.  The key to remember is that all of these days up to improving.

On the flip side, when someone joins for the first time they are completely process oriented.  Every day is a new opportunity to learn how to move better and get a little stronger.  We often do not care about what weight we do because we have no concept of what is good or heavy.  Also, when you first start something new people tend to approach it with a student mindset.  I am here to learn and take my time and I want to learn to do it correctly regardless of how long it takes. Every day becomes a chance for improvement.  Even if it is a day where you have to modify, do less weight then normal, or scale everything down, the important part is you still got to come in, move, and take an hour to treat yourself.

Basically the new person will stop and smell the roses each time they come in the gym.  They will listen to their body, focus on moving better, and spend their down time meeting other people in the class and enjoying their time in the gym.  Someone who is coming back is often focused on one thing – getting to a certain physical result and making it happen by tomorrow.

It doesn’t matter if you have been here for 10 days or 10,000 days.  Learn to enjoy the process.  The best part about this is that the person that is process oriented about working out will get the results they want over time.  It doesn’t matter if it is to lift a certain weight, be injury free, or just look good naked (no shame!  This is currently my goal).  While the person who is just focused on results will quickly become frustrated and burned out.

Learn to love the ride not the destination.  In a weird, backwards way it is how you get to where you want to go anyway.