This Is The Goal Of Every Personal Training Session

“I’ll be back in the club house soon, and on Thursday, I have a training with you and it’s my Birthday! Be nice to me!”

I received that message from comedic bad-ass J.W. Crump on Monday, and I was lucky enough to run into him last night while we waited for the A train.  We chatted about the projects that we’re working on, and as I shared about our recent M/M LAB.

At the LAB I presented on the program design process at MFF, and I believe that the way we approach program design is unique in the strength and conditioning space.  We’re not doing it with a tight focus on improving FMS scores, double body weight deadlifts, single digit body-fat percentages, or whatever move you just learned on T-Nation.  We’re doing it to create the best experience possible.

I mean, check out Matt Wilson’s Tuesday outfit while I provide Glenn with some tactile feedback:


I shared my M/M LAB notes with J.W., and I heard myself saying to him, “The goal of any training session is to finish feeling successful.” We carried on our conversation about feedback and communication skills, after we parted ways I found myself considering that goal.  It’s the one thing that I believe unites all trainers, all trainees, and everyone who is speaking the universal language of movement.

The goal of any training session is to finish feeling successful.

Let this be the guideline for whatever you consider a training session.  If you exercise on your own, let this be goal for each of your workouts.  If you head to a workout with friends, let this be the goal for each session.  If you’re a trainer, let this be the goal for each person you see.  Every time. Always.

The feeling of success is an entirely personal experience, so the first question is, “What does it mean to feel successful?”

If it’s your first time to the gym, the answer might be, “Don’t get lost.” If you’re in a class for the first time, the answer may be, “Don’t feel out of place.” If you’re finishing a training program, it’s likely to be, “Lift X amount of weight.” If you appreciate mountain biking like I do, it’s, “Go get lost.”  Our definitions of success may be different, but our desire for that feeling is universal.


The desire to feel successful is inherently human.  If we consider Deci and Ryan’s determination theory, we’re inclined to seek autonomy, competence, and relatedness.  Allow me to use the words competence and success interchangeably, and let’s appreciate that the goal of feeling successful isn’t about a fitness outcome, but a personal outcome.  If we address the personal outcomes, we’re far better prepared to creating the fitness environment that leads us there.

In the past I’ve asked the rhetorical question, “What can I do to make them feel successful?” This is the wrong question.  Rather, let us all strive to ask, “What does it mean to feel successful?” Follow this with, “How can we get there?”

The answers will vary.  The methods will vary.  The outcomes will vary. The final feeling will be the same.

That question is what I dream of.  I dream that we can create environments that allow ourselves, or those we train, to feel as successful as possible while we’re experiencing the language of movement.  Whether that success is entering the pain cave, or progressing on our journey to bathing suits and beaches, it starts with asking about our personal meaning of success.  It continues with regularly refining our answers to that question.


Appreciating the uniqueness in our answers is what bring us towards the universal goal of a training session: To finish feeling successful.  That may look look different for each of us, but it will feel the same, and that shared sensation is an admirable goal for all of us.

When J. W. comes in this evening, I’ll ask him what he’d like like to do to feel successful.  The goal is his, the process is his, and I’m just there to ask the questions.  Plus, his answers are way funnier than mine anyway.

Happy birthday, J.W., and thank you for the great conversations!

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