It can be hard to make the changes required for a healthier life. Despite all your efforts, on occasion you may find yourself slipping back into old routines, as this is often the easier option.

Our brain follows learned patterns and it is less challenging to stick with these than to make new ones. When we attempt to change it feels uncomfortable, as habits have become ingrained and in order to break free from them our brains need to learn new motor patterns.

The rule of 21 states that the same movement or habit must be performed at least 21 consecutive times to make long-lasting change.

If you attempt to undertake too many changes at once your brain will become overwhelmed and you are destined to return to what you know best, the thing that is easiest – in other words, to remain where you are!

This may be one of the reasons why success in the gym is evading you. During all my years in this industry I’ve come to be acquainted with a number of different stereotypes, which I call the four gym saboteurs.

The victim

The first gym saboteur is the victim. They will always claim it is not their fault that they are in such bad shape: they never had a chance, they were born with bad genes, they’ve tried every diet but none of them works.

Added to this is usually some sort of injury that flares up at the mere mention of the word exercise.


The child

The next gym saboteur, the child, commonly complains ‘I can’t do it’ by myself ‘I’m stuck’. Be aware of your inner child – like any wayward child; don’t pay it too much heed.

The drama queen

This is the third gym saboteur – another stereotype that is a common character in the gym. The drama queen chases the new idea, the new diet.

These are the type of clients who are doing really well but when the latest fad diet comes along they then jump ship for the latest marketing message telling you you can lose weight by doing no exercise and eating rubbish all day!

The prostitute

This is the fourth and final gym saboteur. These people are always trying to please someone else. I’ve had many clients down through the years who’ve veered off from their lifestyle plan in order to appease their spouses or friends’ demands, to have ‘just the one’ drink or to eat the wrong foods.

The prostitute will do this in order to keep the peace in the relationship.

These are the four main gym saboteurs but I’m sure there are others that are getting in the way of your goal of getting healthy. You just need to be aware of them because with awareness comes responsibility.

When the child, victim, drama queen or prostitute within you raises their voice next time, shush them down. Hire the services of a coach who says what needs to be said. All too often we shy away from this.

A coach will hold you accountable and tell you what you don’t see, whereas a friend might give you a hug and sympathise about how it’s not your fault.

You need to realise that the daily actions we make are the result of practice.

Silence your gym saboteur. Aristotle said: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” Make good ones and be excellent.