Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. People think they understand this concept until it is applied to their understanding of fitness. When people are frustrated by their fitness progress and I ask them what they do, they usually tell me that they are doing their standard routine. All things being equal, if you stick with the same fitness routine, the best you can hope to achieve is maintaining the status quo.
Even maintaining the status quo is not likely with the same routine. Over time, you will age, hormone levels will drop, and your metabolism will slow. You will have to work harder just to maintain the status quo. When presented with the same task over and over again, our bodies are very efficient and we will develop the means of being able to accomplish the same task with less effort. This will also cause a loss of progress.
The factors determining fitness success are consistency and intensity. You need both. You have to continually increase your intensity if you want to make progress. You also need to maintain, or increase, the consistency.
For an activity like weight lifting, it’s easy to tell if you are increasing the intensity since that translates into being able to lift more weight. I would call this a simplistic increase in intensity. It’s mainly a function of time, protein consumption, and repetition which results in a muscle increasing in volume.
A more interesting increase in intensity is being able to do something new that you couldn’t do before. I find this a lot more exciting than a five pound increase in a weight that I can lift. Frequently, this would also involve taking something that you could barely do before, or execute poorly, and then be able to do it better. Take, for instance, the ability to do a handstand. You don’t just go from not being able to do a handstand at all to being able to do a handstand at will for as long as you want. There are a set of training steps to get there and supporting strengthening and stretching exercises to condition the body to accomplish the given task.
Being able to serve in tennis is the same way. You start just doing anything to get the ball in the court with regularity. Then you begin to experiment with power, spins, and consistency. It takes years and thousands of acts of repetition and experimentation to improve and be able to develop a competent tennis serve.
In Knotty Yoga, there are a lot of “goal moves” that will take people months or years even to be able to do for more than just a half second (or at all without someone else spotting you heavily). Even though only a couple of students have mastery of many of these moves, for each move, there is a long set of progressions on the way to the actual move itself. Each of these progressions is an exciting goal to achieve in and of itself. However, the real excitement is knowing that each one will take you to the next step on a long and exciting path. When you can finally do something that you have been working on for years, it’s an extremely rewarding experience.
The other factor in progress is consistency. This is where many people struggle. I’ll see people post to Facebook and brag about an EPIC workout. Then they will be so proud of themselves that they will slack off for a month after. Or people who need to lose 100lbs and stop after losing five pounds to celebrate with a binging meal. Consistency is working out three to five days a week at a high intensity level with an ever increasing intensity.
It’s amazing to me how many people think that making that kind of commitment to your fitness and health is unrealistic and a challenge. This is where I think Knotty Yoga excels. Knotty Yoga is an intense and efficient workout. A person could do three, one-hour Knotty Yoga workouts a week and make excellent progress over as little time as three months. After a year, they will be doing things that they had never thought possible. For busy people without much time to spare, that is only three hours a week. Most people waste more than that much time watching television in a day. It will also save time in sick leave, back pain, headaches, doctor’s visits, and chiropractic adjustments down the road. Not to mention the improvement in your appearance.
On the flip side, I have seen many people over the years that go to the gym regularly like clockwork. They have the consistency thing down. But they never get in any better shape because they do the exact same thing every workout.
If your workout has consistency and intensity, you will get in shape and then continue to get in better shape over time. The key is to have both. I created Knotty Yoga with a basic goal: anyone from a moderately fit person to an elite athlete will be challenged with increasing intensity in a format that achieves results if people consistently attend at least three, 60-minute classes a week. Whatever your fitness vehicle is, make sure the intensity is there and that you consistently make time for it if you want to make progress.