Ditching the Scale


The following in as excerpt from my upcoming book “The Greyskull Guide to Success in Personal Training”. This book tells the story of my journey from broke backyard trainer, to internationally recognized authority on the subject of fitness and the business of being a fitness entrepreneur, and presents a series of lessons and action items that you can use to create and grow your own training business and brand into a lucrative entity. Look for it to release early December 2013. 

Recently I spent part of a Saturday afternoon cleaning out the shed in my backyard. My dad was there helping, as always, and commenting on some of the random, comical things that we came across in the sea of forgotten or discarded crap from over the years that had collected.

One of the discoveries that he made, sitting in a corner under a box of seventies era Hustler magazines (hey, they belonged to the guy who owned my house before me and I didn’t have the heart to throw them away or sell them), was a stack of bathroom scales. There were at least four or five of them, all different makes and models.

He of course inquired as to why I had so many scales in my shed, to which I replied,

“Oh those are from when I cleaned out the Jeep before I sold it to you”.

Looking back, I understand how my answer was not exactly complete in that I did not explain WHY I had the scales in the first place, but, having known me for thirty-one years, my dad was evidently satisfied with that answer because he did not dig any deeper.

The scales were a remnant of my days of training primarily housewives in the affluent Philadelphia suburban area known as the “main line”. I had grown tired of seeing these women bust their increasingly attractive asses session after session, class after class, only to show up on a particular morning miserable or frustrated as a result of going against my orders and weighing themselves at home.

As detailed in the section on the psychology of training women, one of the major hurdles that you must get past as a trainer of women, is their generalized inherent tendency to seek instant gratification in metrics that ultimately do not matter. The woman who wants to “lose twenty pounds” or states that she wants to “weigh 115” normally has no fucking clue what she is talking about.

Men are not exempt from this flaw either. In my early mass gain days I “drank the koolaid” or rather the milk, and followed the plan outlined by a then mentor of sorts that required me to drink one gallon of milk per day.

Each night I would weigh myself religiously, taking care to make sure that I did not pee or take one of my eleven, awful milk dumps of the day too close to weighing in so that the scale would show as high of a number as possible. I needed to see the scale move by one pound per day or I was a miserable human being.

Now, as you can imagine, I did manage to pack on some muscle during those two months or so. I did however manage to pack on quite a bit of bodyfat along with it due to the asinine manner in which I was going about things. Correcting the body composition problem that I had created required me to change my horrible habits that I had formed, but the desire and ability to change the habits came from a shift in my psychology associated with the event of mass gain.

Unhappy with the aesthetics of my body during this phase, and ignoring the “you can just take those ten, twenty, or fifty pounds of fat that you put on with the milk off after the fact” ideology, I began to add in some fasted walking, cleaned up the food quality, and ditched the milk in exchange for more favorable, yet still calorically dense choices (This formed the basis for the information that I present in my book “SWOLE: The Greyskull Growth Principles”).

The result was a relatively rapid change in body composition for the better, and zero loss of strength or progress in building muscle.

I hated the fact that I had become a scale-obsessed person, and poked fun at myself by claiming that it was the woman in me coming out. My progress continued at a solid pace for the next several months. I still weighed myself, but only once per week, and only under the same conditions of hydration. I used that number as a single metric, a part of a series of such, to provide a more complete picture of how I was progressing.

Despite getting up to two hundred and twenty-seven pounds by seeking scale “PR’s” each day, I was able to gradually work my way up to a much more aesthetically pleasing two hundred and fifty-five pounds over the course of the next several months. My progress certainly was not impeded, but rather was amplified once I began to focus on what mattered the most, the work that was getting done in the gym, and the quality of the food going into me each day.

Those several scales that we found in my shed that day were those that I demanded that my clients bring in to me the next day after listening to a particularly long bitching session one morning.

One woman, who only days before was showing off her new bikini to everyone, ecstatic with how she looked in it, was mopey and depressed because she had seen a number on the scale that was not in line with the asinine and arbitrary number that she had pulled out of her ass and placed in her brain which represented what she “should” weigh. Her mood predictably spread through the other women that morning like a wild fire, and all of the sudden my strong, capable, sexy women who had been training each day for weeks, wearing increasingly more revealing workout attire and bragging about all of the compliments that they were receiving on their new bodies became a circle of blubbering whiners, “unhappy” with their progress because they too were not where they “wanted to be” on the scale.

In true JP fashion I sent them all home, refusing to train them for the day. I instructed them to bring me their bathroom scales in the morning or do not bother coming back. 

I calmly packed up my gear that I had with me for the day, and drove home.

The next morning, when I arrived I had a pile of bathroom scales in front of me, and a class of women who were ready to get shit done. They all worked extra hard that day, presumably to make up for their hiccup the day before.

The most interesting part about that day however was that two of the women who had given me their scales also paid upfront for three months of coaching, stating that they had talked it over, and that they were absolutely committed to continuing to follow my lead and make the progress that they had initially hired me to seek.

So yeah, that day I received a bunch of new bathroom scales (which they never asked me to return, go figure), and a few checks totaling almost one thousand dollars.

As Ice Cube would say, “I’d have to say it was a good day”.

Make sure that your clients, male or female, are not sabotaging their progress towards their desired outcomes by tracking a metric that simply does not matter in the big picture, or which cannot be easily and accurately tracked. The “bodyfat” scales that use bioelectrical impedance to determine bodyfat percentage best illustrate the latter.

Utter horseshit.

Interestingly enough, all of the scales that I received that morning with the exception of one were all that type of bullshit scale.

Develop a system of tracking client progress, explain it to them, and demand (DO NOT ASK) for their compliance in using your method alone to track their progress. Remember, they are hiring you with an outcome in mind. If they do not trust your ability to help them find the most effective and efficient path to reaching that outcome, then you should suggest that they find someone else who will tell them what they want to hear, train them the way they want to be trained, and ultimately take their money for providing a service that is not in line with their desired outcome.

Again, you are one of the minority of trainers who is hell bent on delivering the goods, and using your track record of client progress, not some slick marketing or a wraparound vinyl sign job on your hummer, to build your brand.

Let the majority “hacks” cater to the “I’ll pay you for the ability to tell everyone I have a trainer” crowd, you have a legacy to create.


One Response

  1. Mitch

    Great post, JP!

    December 7, 2013 at 1:43 am

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