Putting the “Personal” Back Into Your Training

October 2021

By Michael Shaw, Owner, SHAWfit


Remember the gym? That colossal bastion of steel and sweat. Machines you didn’t quite know how to use. Monthly dues you paid whether you went or not. Judgmental stares from 20 somethings who couldn’t possibly be the same species as you. We’ve all joined at least one gym…more likely multiple gyms. Always with the best of intentions. Our membership tags hanging from our keychains, mocking us. Reminding us of unkept promises to our loved ones and more importantly, ourselves. Then it happened…

Covid! This mysterious plague of a virus drove us indoors with only fear and the four walls to keep us company. We became teachers and playmates for our kids, adapted to the idea of working from home, and traded in hugs and handshakes for Zoom meetings. Somewhere along the way we created a new normal, rediscovered some of the things that are truly important to us, and shifted our focus from surviving to thriving. We took a long hard look in the mirror and possibly for the first time ever, designed a plan for our eating, exercise, and social practices around how we truly want to live.

Treadmills, Peletons, dumbbells and exercise equipment of all shapes and sizes flew off the shelves. Home gyms sprung up in every garage, basement, and spare bedroom. This would soon become our new world where we can shop online, receive our deliveries the same day, and hold video meetings in our pajama bottoms. Why shouldn’t we be able to sculpt our best bodies from home and emerge from the pandemic lean and mean? So, whether you’re headed back to the gym or back to your basement or garage, you need a plan.

My advice will always be to start with finding a mentor that can help create a plan with you. Someone who has the knowledge and experience to create a program that is aligned with your unique goals and needs. Traditionally, this comes in the form of a personal trainer. If a trainer is within your financial reach, I’m obviously all for it. As an FYI – trainers were hit hard when gyms shut down, so you might be able to negotiate a lower rate than you think. Alternatively, you can also find plenty of information online if you have the time and patience to do your research.

Ready to create your plan? Here’s a checklist of questions to ask yourself as you get started:

  1. How will getting in shape improve my quality of life? This is the MOST IMPORTANT factor in designing your plan. Your answers will probably look something like this:
    • Increased Energy –enables you to be more active with your children, participate in sports and activities, feel better in every phase of your life.
    • Optimal Weight –lose, gain, or redistribute your weight. Increase lean muscle and reduce fat. Changing your appearance increases your confidence, improves the strength of your heart and overall health, and inspires your family to join you in the pursuit of their best body.
    • Increased Libido –yep, I said it. Now that you’ve been stuck indoors, I’m sure you’ve seen and heard the endless ads for ED remedies and testosterone boosters. This goes for you too ladies… consistent exercise and healthy eating increase your sex drive and your performance. Enough said. Sign me up!
    • Focus –mental acuity also improves with consistent exercise and healthy eating. So yes, you will be smarter in addition to sexier and more confident.
  1. Is my exercise regimen age appropriate? If you’re 45 and haven’t seen the inside of a gym in 15+ years, now is not the time to dig up your old high school workout.
  2. Who is my support group? Do you have a workout partner… someone to hold you accountable? It’s much harder to skip a session when someone is depending on you.
  3. Will I have time? Block out your training times and tell your colleagues, friends and family that you are committed to these times and cannot miss your workout. In the same spirit, ask that they at the very least support your dietary changes, and hopefully join you in becoming nutritionally sound.
  4. Do I have the necessary equipment and training space? Don’t worry, you don’t need much. In fact, you really can train effectively with little to no equipment…you just need an intelligent and targeted program design (enter the mentor/trainer I mentioned earlier).
  5. What are my goals? “Get into better shape,” is a very obtuse term. My advice is to have a long term goal with intermittent goals (baby steps) along the way. Divide your plan into four-week modules. This enables you to reassess monthly and to determine where you are strong and where you need help.
  6. How will I reward myself? My favorite part…patting myself on the back for a job well done. A new outfit, a trip, enter a road race, perhaps it’s as simple as strutting your stuff in public. Find what motivates you and makes you feel good about your achievement and immerse yourself. Joy is good!

In summary, I have trained countless people from all walks of life over the past 30 years. The common thread amongst those that succeed is having an intelligent and PERSONALIZED plan and sticking to it. Just like in business, if you fail to plan… you plan to fail.



Michael Shaw is available for speaking engagements, life coaching, personal training, group exercise instruction, nutrition programming, and executive confidence training. For more information, please contact mikeshaw.1205fitness@gmail.com