Gym Class, the Tooth Fairy, and the Benefits of Accountability

Coach Dave Weiss Health Guide
  • The requisite weekly hazing incident aside, I miss high school gym class. Heck, for that matter, I miss grade school recess. Not unlike my relationship with the tooth fairy back in the day, I knew that gym class or recess was going to be terrifying and painful once in a while, but there were always good parts, too. For most of us, it has been a while since anyone ordered us to run around on a field kicking a soccer ball for forty-five minutes, and only now do we realize how good we had it. Where’s that polyester-clad coach with his air-raid-quality whistle when I need him to get me off of my couch now!
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    An all too common mistake that we make when designing a fitness regimen is relying too heavily on ourselves to provide the motivation necessary to adhere to a regular routine. Let’s face it, the vast majority of us are inherently lazy! It’s no great coincidence that when I send my rowers home for winter break, very few of them return in better shape than when they had left. Without the support of and competition from their teammates, the resolve of even my most dedicated athletes tends to wane.

    This ebbing of motivation can manifest itself even more profoundly in the experiences of those of us who have no team relying on us and no national championship race awaiting us. To sustain a workout regimen past its initial stages, it’s critical that we infuse in our plans an element of accountability. This is accomplished easily by finding a workout partner or group that shares similar fitness or workout goals and that adheres to a pre-established workout routine. With others relying on us, it’s no longer an option to continue hitting the snooze button or to stay on the couch and skip a workout. Building group accountability into a workout plan ensures better adherence to the plan, removes much of the pressure felt by individuals of finding motivation on a daily basis, and engenders a collective sense of purpose and team.

    Another option for the motivationally challenged is working with a personal trainer periodically. You may be somewhat hesitant to make that initial appointment: seeing a personal trainer for the first time is kind of like covering the first seven steps of a 12-step program in one shot, and who needs to deal with all that emotional upheaval! But, as my friend and former Division-I rower Craig tells me, seeing a personal trainer for the past couple of months has restored to his workouts a sense of competitiveness and purpose that had been lacking since he last picked up an oar. You’ll have to ask Craig’s fiancée if he’s the magnificent physical specimen that he’s rumored to have been in college, but at least he knows he’ll fit into (and slip out of) his tux with ease.

    So find a training buddy, or make that appointment with the trainer - I promise, there’ll be no wedgies this time.
Published On: March 03, 2006