Commit or don’t commit

There is no try

Thanks Yoda for the partial ‘quote theft’ here. So todays thoughts are all about the act of ‘trying’.

One of my old teachers used to say “there’s no such word as try”. Well at the time i didn’t know what he meant. But having worked with people who are ‘hoping for change’ in their lives for a number of years now, I am now only too aware of why ‘trying’ is not the best way to get yourself started if you want any hope of long term commitment.

One dictionary definition of the word try

“To taste, sample, or otherwise test in order to determine strength, effect, worth, or desirability”

Doesn’t sound very permanent does it?

And therein lies the problem.

Most people contact me with a goal. They usually sound something like this:-

I want to tone up

‘I want to lose (insert grabbing/pinching of under arms or around waist) this bit here’

I’m going on holiday/getting married/I’m about to turn (insert age) and i want to look my best.

I want to improve my health.

I want to feel strong

So here we have some legitimate goals- all of which for most people are ‘doable’. Now depending on where you start out on your fitness/health/strength journey, for some, the process may be more ‘trying’ than for others, and expectations may need to be amended.

You may have never exercised in your life- you may have family or work commitments- you may have a ‘social life’…..all of these things make commitment to a ‘new health plan’ difficult to achieve. Difficult yes- Impossible No.

Now for most trainers we learn how to ‘motivate clients’. I would like to think I have had perhaps ‘more training than most’ in this area. In a previous working life I have spent considerable time with high security long term prisoners. Some of the men I dealt with have no chance of ever being released into society. Some of them had prison tariffs longer than I had been alive. In this role I was trained in numerous techniques to try and ‘motivate’  change. To change the way they thought, what they valued, and how they behaved (whilst living in an environment they were deeply resentful of). Getting it ‘wrong’ in that job when assessing change had some pretty severe consequences.

Techniques ranged from rewarding good behaviour, punishing bad behaviour, body language observations, pro social modelling. You name it – if it is was in the ‘motivational tool kit’. We did it.

Did it work-? Often Not. The reasons why someone may not change in a prison environment are vast. It is possibly one of the hardest places to encourage people in. But on a very rare occasion you would see :-

A prisoner ‘separate themselves’ from others who they would usually ‘act up with’.

They would begin to comply with the prison regime.

They would attend daily sessions including work-learning- the gym- therapy sessions.

Attitudes to staff would change.

Violence, spitting, swearing towards others would stop

They dealt with set backs well (which in prison terms could mean additional years in the same place- or not achieving a release)

Over time- they weren’t just ‘trying’ to change- good behaviour became the norm.

Now it was hard to see what we had ‘done with some prisoners’ that we hadn’t with others. We had spoke with them the same way- we had offered the same rewards. So WHY – would this 1 out of the 100’s we dealt with behave any different?

The answer lies in- COMMITMENT

He was ‘ready for change’.

Ironically I have now got to a point in my career where I can be honest about how I feel about this. I still maintain that motivation is a ‘part of the puzzle’. To start out for change you must have an initial motivating factor or you wouldn’t get there in the first place.

BUT motivation is not enough. Motivation withers. It faces challenges, excuses, justifications over time, and eventually it dies. Motivation for me is overrated.

I have very little time for clients who give me excuses anymore. In my old days I ‘tried to motivate’. The irony in this being that I myself don’t have commitment to this cause. I want 100 % commitment. If I get this I’ll give it back as your Trainer.

Here I borrow a quote from a well known Fitness guru (who I have a lot of respect for). From what I have observed he’s not someone who will always ‘win over’ a large proportion of the population as to be quite frank- he’s honest.

Andy Mckenzie

“If you are not prepared to commit 100% then quite frankly don’t bother”

This quote is taken from the context of his discussion on commitment. And I could not  agree with it more. Change is hard it deserves 100 %. Without this over time you will not get the results you are after. You will do yourself a disservice.

When you think about the fundamental reason you want to change something in your life, whether this be for aesthetic or health reasons (I like to think the latter will always dominate but I know in reality it doesn’t).


There will be reasons that hold you back.


You are no different from the next person with bills to pay, family to care for, a job and a social life.

Don’t make yourself a victim with ‘reasons why’ your ‘trying’ didn’t work.

Don’t try


100 % Commitment – Imagine the Results?



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