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A better mouse trap?

There’s a saying in business, “Build a better mouse trap.” Essentially, it means to find a better way to build a product or provide a service.

As many of you know, I am a fitness trainer and our family owns and operates South Yuba Club and Monster Gym. I’ve been in the fitness business for close to 15 years.

Next month, a significant portion of the American adult population will join a health club as part of their New Year’s resolution. And if you are one of those people who is planning to take such a step and improve your health and well-being, then I whole-heartedly applaud your effort. However, while many new club members will see some improvement, 50 percent to 70 percent of those people will not fully achieve their intended goals by the following new year.



I bring this up because everyone, regardless of age or genetics, should be able to get good results from exercise. Based on my experience, it isn’t just lack of time or motivation that causes people to fall off the wagon. If someone feels an activity is “worth it” then, generally, they will find a way to do it.

The real reason why people give up on exercise is because they don’t achieve their goals. Let’s take two activities that I enjoy: Rock climbing and skiing. I know, you’re wondering where I am going with this, but bear with me for a moment.




If I am climbing or skiing well, then I really enjoy my time in the mountains and I can find all sorts of excuses to dodge family- and work-related responsibilities to go play. However, when I am not performing well, achieving my intended results, then these very activities that I love can become less motivating. Sometimes I will actually find things to do like clean the garage or pretend my cell phone battery died when a friend calls to go climbing. I guess golf is the only exception to this rule.

Now I know going to the gym is not on most people’s “top 10 list” of favorite things to do each week. But I see hundreds of people every month who are genuinely excited to get healthy and fit but begin to battle with motivation when they aren’t getting the results they want from their time at the gym. Occasionally folks have unreasonable goals but more often than not they just don’t have a good game plan or the necessary support to be successful.

There are three issues that I see over and over again that prevent people from getting good results from exercise. The first is failing to change up their routine.

Your body will adjust to whatever kind of exercise you throw at it in about four weeks. In fact, by week six your body actually expends less energy to perform the workout than it did during the first week. That’s right, you burn fewer calories doing the same program during the sixth week than you did during the first week because your body has become fitter and better at performing the activity and, therefore, expends less energy. For most people who are going to the gym this not the definition of a successful outcome.

The second issue is one of intensity. While it’s not reasonable or even safe to expect someone to go “all out” while they exercise, most people go through “the motions” with such low intensity, whether lifting weights or walking on a treadmill, that their body never receives enough stimuli to produce the changes they hope to see.

I think the underlying issue to the problems above hinge on having the right game plan and having enough support and accountability to be successful. And for at least 30 percent of the people who join a health club this year, this is enough to get good results. But what about the other 70 percent of health club members?

Well, you can hire a personal trainer or pay a training studio somewhere between $400-$600 per month to help you out. And therein lies the problem, spend a little for a health club membership with limited help or spend a lot for personal training. It pains me to say this, but health clubs and personal training studios have not done a good enough job of providing a broader range of services to meet the needs of a diverse clientele.

So here comes the “better mouse trap” part. We are experimenting with changing the way people get results from their time at the gym. We have taken 3,400 square feet of space at South Yuba Club and developed a private training center where members can share the cost of a personal trainer with four to 10 other members and receive small group personal training. We can provide the program design, guidance, support and accountability of working with a personal trainer at a fraction of the cost of regular private training.

Have we found a better way to help people achieve their health and fitness goals? I’ll let you decide. Whether you’re a club member or just thinking about joining a club, I invite you to come by the South Yuba Club and try small group personal training at no risk and free of charge for seven days.

At the very least you will have an opportunity to work with a trainer and develop a personalized program. And if you enjoy the experience then you may have just found the answer to achieving your New Year’s resolutions.

Mike Carville is a NASM/RKC-certified personal trainer and co-owner of South Yuba Club in Nevada City (SouthYubaClub.com) and Monster Gym in Grass Valley (MonsterGyms.com). Contact him at mikec@southyubaclub.com.


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