When I came to ZŪM last January, my very first client was Michael Sharps, who had a goal to get to 12% body fat and, preferably, be completely shredded before going on vacation to Ibiza just over 3 months later. It was a big ask in a short period of time, but we both worked hard and came within 2% of his goal. Nearly a year later, we’re still working together and Mike has made an impressive physical transformation, and is such a disciplined and motivational person as far as fitness goes, I decided to interview him for our Succeeding and Thriving series.
Me: Why did you seek out personal training at ZŪM? What was your original goal?
Mike: At some point in time I established a series of goals for myself, and one of them was for my fitness. The metric that I chose for that was to get to 12% body fat and I figured that I had a reasonably good workout routine and I felt that I would be more motivated, more accountable, and generally, hopefully have better results if I worked with a personal trainer.
Me: What have you learned since you started training?
Mike: Probably the biggest thing that I’ve realized is the relationship between diet and fitness and how the two impact each other. So, specifically that a cleaner diet will help you lose weight, but also the right foods will make you feel more energized during workouts.
Me: What changes have you seen in your physical self or how you feel or look or both since you’ve started training?
Mike: I think of our stretch before I went on vacation in June and we got pretty close to the goal so that by June I think we had gotten into a good rhythm and I felt like the workouts were a good combination of solid resistance training and very challenging cardiovascular work, and the results of that were that I had gotten to my lowest known body fat percentage.
Me: What are your 3 favorite things about training?
Mike: One, that the workouts are constantly varied. When I make up my own workout programs, I stick with one for too long and I don’t change it up, and therefore I don’t have as good of results from the work that I’m doing.
Second, is the intensity. Having a good personal trainer will push you beyond what you think what you can do to what you realistically can do and that will help you as well.
And third is that my personal trainer is fun to work with. [Note: this is where I threw confetti at him and yelled, “WOO HOO!”] [Just kidding.]
Me: What is your biggest struggle in terms of fitness and training and how do you overcome it?
Mike: My biggest challenge, obviously, is the diet. I think generally I am pretty good about being consistent with working out, and with a personal trainer I’m more intense so that’s definitely helpful, but my biggest challenge is finding the sweet spot with having enough and the right types of food without eating too much or eating too little. It’s something I’m still sort of tuning.
Me: In what ways do you supplement your personal training sessions in order to get closer to your goals?
Me: Steroids? [Laughing.]
Mike: Leave that in there.
Me: I’m not leaving that in there! [Note: I left it in so I can tell you that steroids are bad and Mike definitely does not use them.]
Me: So, if you have this goal, how are you getting there besides meeting with me twice a week?
Mike: We’ve talked about the overall training ritual that I have. So Monday is the cardiovascular interval work, Tuesday we train, Wednesday is more interval cardiovascular work, Thursday we train, Friday is off, Saturday is spin with Liz, and then Sunday is a programmed workout that you’ve provided.
Me: What would you say to a member who is on the fence about training?
Mike: In general, it’s very hard to push yourself as hard as someone else will. You have the combination of that as well as a personal trainer who knows how to push you in the right areas, and how to not do it in the wrong ones. So like they won’t push you past things you are capable of doing if you have joint ailments or muscle imbalances or something, so it’s like you’re pushing yourself as hard as you theoretically can go, combined with knowledge of what your limitations are so you can keep doing it for an extended period of time.
Me: How do you keep moving forward toward your goal when life happens and you backslide? (i.e. vacations, etc…)
Mike: Consistency is the key for me. If I have to miss a few workouts, I pick something easy to do for the first workout back to just to lower the mental barrier. I prep for the next week on Sundays. So, I use that as an opportunity to reset dietary or other habits.
Me: What do you attribute to your success? [Note: His first answer was “My personal trainer” but I’m pretty sure he was just sucking up so I wouldn’t make him push the sticky sled anytime soon.]
Mike: One, I like going to the gym…
Me: That always helps.
Mike: Yeah, and then second is that I have a high value for consistency of effort, so I would gladly take sort of an unmotivated, tired workout than just skipping it because it at least sort of instills in me a habit of continuing to do and hopefully with enough consistency and enough work, I’ll get to my goal.
This is a great strategy, and also where my interview with Mike ended. He’s a great example of what can be accomplished with discipline and a solid plan of action. Thanks, Mike!