Everything you interact with on a daily basis is personalized for you. Your Starbucks coffee has your name on the cup, made to your specifications, and paid for from your app with your rewards. You work with a personal nutrition coach for your individual diet plan, and you are given individualized recommendations by Netflix for what show you would like best. It only seems appropriate that you should be able to find the best workout for you, as well. However, when you think an individualized workout, you think personal training - and that's the wrong assumption.
Personal training is an exceptional way to improve your overall fitness. You will have a coach's eyes on you for the entire time you are exercising, and every day will be tailored to you and your needs. As effective as personal training can be, there are two major draw backs:
If you attend personal training four to six days per week every day of the month, you're going to spend well over $500 per month on exercise. Your health is invaluable, but that does become cost-prohibitive over time. Additionally, when you workout alone you miss the primary benefits of group training which include the ability to actually push yourself harder, constant variety in your program to keep all aspects of your fitness improving, and the relationships you build with the community which give you major feel-good endorphins. So, what do you do if you want the benefits of both group training and personal training?
Solving this problem is thankfully not hard - it is a simple concept known as relative intensity.
Honestly, it looks like fitness jargon. But, thankfully, relative intensity is the simple truth that what is a high intensity workout for one person is not a high intensity workout for another. Consider this: when you walk into Summit, you will see twenty-something ex-Division 1 athletes working out next to 50 and 60 year olds who haven't been competing in athletics for at least thirty years, if ever. Clearly, these two groups will find different things challenging.
To continue this example, if a workout has back squats, pull ups, and running in it, the twenty-something athlete may need to use 185 pounds on the bar, complete pull ups, and run 400 meters. In contrast, the 50 or 60 year old may need 95 pounds, substitute ring rows for the pull ups, and complete a 200 meter run in order to put the same amount of effort into the workout. While there are many, many athletes in the 50 to 60 age range who can keep up with their younger friends, this example is meant for generalities.
Simply put, relative intensity is the last key to being able to maintain consistency in your fitness program. Before you can apply any intensity, you need to be able to safely do the movement (mechanics, in fitness speak), safely do the movement for many reps (consistency, in fitness speak) and only then apply intensity. And again, what is intense for one person will not be intense for another, or may be far too intense for someone else. When you complete a workout which is too intense for your fitness level it can leave you incredibly sore and perhaps even injured. Under either of these circumstances, you end up not being able to workout the next day, or the day following. You break the habit of showing up to the gym, your consistency suffers, and you end up back on the couch wondering how to get healthy. In short, relative intensity is the key to getting the results you're after.
It is really tempting to compare yourself to others when it comes to your fitness. You find comparisons everywhere; Instagram and other social media, in the office, at the gym, maybe even your spouse. It is absolutely crucial that you don't allow your ego - which wants to feel "better" than all those other people - control the effort you apply at the gym. Find the appropriate relative intensity, and you'll find the best workout for you.