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Exercise Exodus

By March 7, 2015March 31st, 2015LeadershipDude Articles
Nobody walks toward freedom anymore...who's got time for that?!!

Nobody walks toward freedom anymore…who’s got time for that?!!

Houston, We Have A Problem

Over the last quarter century, I have dedicated my vocational pursuits to leading people from a place of physical (and spiritual) “imprisonment” toward a place of liberation, fulfillment and accomplishment.  Much like the ancient story of the Israelites who were stuck in Egyptian captivity for over 400 years, a great number of the people I have designed health solutions for had serious physical limitations and concerns which led them to feel like prisoners, both physically and emotionally.  I don’t pretend to be Moses–although being considered both a “friend of God” and spending 40 days in intimate communion with God up on a mountain would be a monumental experience–but I do feel like my commitment to Kingdom leadership affords me the ability to help others achieve meaningful breakthroughs and that is something everyone can achieve.

I have entitled this blog post, “Exercise Exodus”, to parallel the seemingly great idea of escaping a bad situation in order to achieve a much better situation.  Unfortunately, once people begin the journey, they often encounter obstacles such as sore muscles, junk food withdrawals, time restraints and general discouragement that leads to giving up prematurely as well as regret their decision to try to change their situation.  We’ll try to circle around to the spiritual implications later on.

Let’s discuss my approach to crossing the Red Sea, so to speak.  It’s never been a formula…rather, it’s simply been an identification of where a person currently stands and where they would like to end up–with a little bit of influence from me, of course.  My coaching seeks to allow the client to be proactively involved in the direction we are heading.  It’s important to empower people so they have ownership of the hard work and don’t look at me like I’m the one making all the decisions.  I have always been a big fan of discipleship.  Personal training is exactly that:  Pouring our strengths into others so that they might go and do likewise towards others they interact with.

In the world of health practitioners, a person who has a particular question or problem seeks out some expert opinions and this starts a journey towards deliverance.  The next step happens by scheduling a visit or appointment with an expert such as a doctor, dentist, dietitian, therapist, counselor or fitness, um, expert (fresh off of an online certification or maybe an experienced veteran in the health & fitness field…either way, the unfortunate consumer has NO way of really knowing what kind of “expert” advice they’re going to receive.).

The expert should ALWAYS begin the interaction by developing Trust with a capital “T”.  {One of the first points of emphasis in our fitness school is to describe this process.  Any personal trainer that does NOT begin with a fitness assessment is metaphorically driving in a foreign city with no GPS or map leading to the destination.} Few relationships can survive turbulent waters without it.  Once the expert initiates the interview of possible questions and/or issues, the next step entails an assessment that serves to shed some light on the situation.

This could be a blood test to determine possible infections.  It could be a dietary food log for 3 days to locate nutritional deficiencies.  It could be a personality test to aid the helping agent gather personal predispositions and preferences.  Or even a free legal assessment to ascertain a potential lawsuit.  Specifically, we as fitness experts begin with some type of questionnaire paired with an actual fitness assessment if the individual presents with no health obstacles (such as a Par-Q).

Using our knowledge of the potential issues, we formulate a strategy to rectify or at least deter the current state of that person’s health “grade”.  At this point, we pack up our belongings and begin the exodus from the (physical, spiritual, emotional) state of inferior location and head towards what we (client/patient + expert/consultant) together agree to be the new destination flowing with milk and honey.

The Journey Begins

So once the journey has been initiated, it’s pertinent to the success of the trip that we clearly delineate the vision for the process ahead.  Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint…”.  If my evaluation of an issue in a person’s physical lifestyle requires a solution, my exercise programming HAS to reflect that we’re addressing it.  Otherwise, I’m engaging in incompetent exercise prescription.

Let’s simplify our process:

  1. step 1 starts with an assessment of current health

  2. step 2 addresses the results of the assessment

  3. step 3 designs a strategy intended to improve a subsequent physical scoring for future re-assessment

  4. step 4 means it’s time to go to work and begin to sweat

  5. step 5 intends to re-assess after a period of 3-6 weeks depending on the nature of the individual’s goals


Now, exercise programming has been frequently driven by the Acronym, FITT(“E” sometimes gets added because enjoyment should be involved to increase adherence to the program).  This stands for frequency, intensity, time and type (of exercise).  There are also recommendations for beginners to slowly integrate them into the habit of consistent exercise.

During the initial assessment we would have also discussed the prioritized goals of the individual in addition to the suggestions needed based on the results of the testing.  A person might wanna build huge calf muscles but if they need to lose 65 lbs then I would probably suggest a dual focus in order to accomplish both.  Skinny calves are not going to lead to heart disease but that extra 65 lbs of adipose tissue will most definitely evolve into some future health risks.

You Can Take The Kid Out Of The Country…

…but you can’t take the country out of the kid.  Well, Most people who have had grandiose visions of making huge changes have experienced major roadblocks and simply quit trying.  With great leadership and encouragement, we tend to stick to our plan and overcome these obstacles.  However, in the absence of accountability and guidance from others, we can grow weary and even pessimistic that we can ever achieve our goals.

The Israelites began to grumble and complain against their leader and ended up wandering around in the desert because they were still seeing themselves as Egyptian prisoners rather than Canaan vacationers.  Forget that they were slaves treated like second class citizens (what’s so wrong with that?!).  At least they could count on some good old fashioned meat for dinner.  Low calorie diets sometimes feel like eating manna all day.

So, a major key to successfully maintaining a physical improvement strategy is to surround yourself with focused, committed and caring individuals who are intent on attaining the goal(s) ahead.  If you’re going to change the way you see yourself, you need positive reinforcement to make it stick.


Leadership starts in the mirror!  What do you see in your mirror?

Leadership starts in the mirror! What do you see in your mirror?

At some point in time, the stuff in this trash bag may have been tasty or brand new.  Once it had been used or no longer needed, it was thrown into a bag with other like-minded community members.  It would have been easy to remember the good ol’ days when that steak was marinating.  However, the current condition of the contents of this trash bag would indicate a rather dismal future.

This happens to humans all the time and sadly it happens to many children who never shake free from this debilitating mindset:  I’m worthless and will never amount to anything substantial.

Exercise Exodus

This is one of the reasons why I think personal training certifications are so short-sighted.  A typical 15-20 hour weekend of learning information (most fitness certs are received like this) can never compete with a program that provides both information AND hands-on practical experience.  A majority of people are visual and kinesthetic learners.

If we want our clients to be more successful at achieving their goals, we need to more diligent in teaching them how to incorporate these new principles of health and fitness as well as reminding them how capable they are of achieving any results they put their heart and mind into.  That’s the problem.  Trainers and other health leaders are usually not very good at giving techniques to their clients to increase adherence.

Susan Fowler, in her excellent book Why Motivation People Doesn’t Work…, describes the mistakes that people make by allowing external influences to be the primary method for motivation.  Her contention is that we (as any kind of leader) need to move people towards an INTERNAL motivation strategy rather than simply dangle carrots (external) in front of them for motivation.  Autonomy, relatedness and competence are the primary tools she espouses to move people towards a more internal-driven motivation paradigm.

The real issues of motivation lie inside the people you are working with (clients or coworkers).  We as leaders have the opportunity of getting to know people and, more importantly, helping people know themselves so they can tap into their “optimal motivational outlook.”

When leaders are given a task to complete they are often so focused on achieving the task that they forget to invest time in getting on the same page with the people who will help them achieve that task.  In the trainer’s case we are referring to the client.  I could only imagine what it was like to move a large mass of people across the desert into a foreign land.

Moses’ predicament was that most of the grumblers and complainers were moving their entire life for external reasons (“hey, everybody else is leaving so let’s go, too”) rather than internal reasons (“hey, this is really going to allow my future generations to experience freedom and prosperity as a people”).

So what next?

If you are looking for practical ideas for achieving your fitness and nutrition goals, you need to develop greater clarity of your goal(s).  Often when people are struggling with getting results, I ask people to describe their approach.  I then ask for an honest assessment of the time and space allocated to implementing that goal.  This is where it starts getting messy.  If we don’t carve a clear path towards our goal, we easily get distracted or overwhelmed by competing interests.

In my early 30’s I was diagnosed with ADHD.  I was prescribed a drug that would help me deal with the symptoms…namely an utter lack of focus and always being scatterbrained.  Exercise was always helpful mentally speaking but if I wasn’t disciplined in my exercise then I would slide towards more unintentional “multitasking”.

Years later I decided another more permanent approach to getting my lack of focus under control:  Meditation.  Not the empyting kind…but the filling kind where the goal was to fill myself with as much thought toward God as I could.  Not surprisingly the results were fabulous and unknowingly helped me grow increasingly sensitive to the still small voice of God.  This is something all believers desire.  A direct pipeline by which we can seek counsel and encouragement from the creator of the universe.

To bring that tidbit closer to home, I realized that achieving success was directly correllated with how well a person focuses on their goal.  Not only that but we also have to develop a support strategy designed to maintain the action items associated with reaching that goal.

For example, I have a goal of losing 12 pounds in the next few months.  The direct goal would be to eat better and workout more in order to expedite the loss of weight.  The support strategy would be to avoid the number of times I go out to eat, tell people what i’m doing so they can cheer me on, and keep a log of my successful days in case i need to make further adjustments as my days go by.  The more mindful I am of what i wish to happen, the more likely i will engage in positive decisions that affect my goal.

Trust me when I say you will feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction and enjoyment by sticking to your plan.  Guilt only accompanies the thoughts of people who lose sight of the goal and make negative decisions which affect their goal.  This is entirely avoidable but we need a plan to minimize the likelihood of it happening.

Thanks for stopping by and reading this article.  Feel free to ask any questions if you desire more insight or simply want to hire Chad for coaching and consulting.

Have a great week!




Chad Hackler

About Chad Hackler

Chad has been ascertaining, evaluating, refining and creating leadership solutions for over 21 years. Trained as a professional strength and conditioning coach specializing in NFL, NHL and collegiate football players, Chad has also been a psychology nut which has aided his ability to create personalized solutions as a leadership specialist. Chad is also a passionate Christian speaker who challenges leaders and groups to perform at high levels of achievement.

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