In first aid classes, you are taught that if you are at the scene of a serious accident, you need to take care of yourself before helping anyone else: Make certain you’re safe, compose yourself, take a few deep breaths, and then help as much as you can. If you are not composed, then you will not be able to assess the situation effectively and act accordingly – you may even make the situation worse by frightening those you are trying to help. It’s sound advice you can apply to other areas of your life.
Taking care of yourself does not mean pampering yourself with a pedicure or signing up for a cruise. Rather, we’re talking about investing in yourself first to ensure a better quality of life so you can do the things you want, which of course can include helping others. A healthy first step in helping yourself is to get on a good strength training program, and it’s wise to look into training at a gym to avoid going it alone.
Although accurate statistics are hard to come by, some industry leaders estimate that 90 percent of those who join a gym will quit within the first 90 days; others say that 50 percent of gym members will quit within the first six months. Whatever the actual number of quitters, it’s a common practice of commercial gyms to offer long-term contracts at reduced rates to take advantage of the typical client’s short-lived enthusiasm for exercise. Be aware that some gyms that offer these muscle-building bargains may lack good customer service; after all, if these gyms had a better retention rate, then they would not be able to accommodate all their members!
There are exceptions, of course, but most people who join a gym only do the activities that appeal to them, without any consideration of proper program design that a good trainer could provide. Hiring a trainer may not seem like an affordable option; however, there are ways to work around this problem.
First, many trainers are willing to work with groups, which lowers the cost for each member of the group. For example, after a trainer assesses you one-on-one and designs an individual program for you, you will train subsequently as part of a group. If such a program is not offered, consider simply hiring a trainer for a consultation as your budget allows. For example, you could hire a trainer for a consultation once a month to write you a workout, review your nutrition and supplement programs, and teach you the finer points of lifting technique, especially on exercises you find challenging.
One upside to this type of program is that if a trainer understands that you have a long-term commitment, they may be willing to negotiate a reasonable price. The trainer is likely to benefit monetarily from a long-term trainer-trainee relationship, especially if you expect to have more disposable income in the future. Further, forward-thinking trainers know that the good word-of-mouth you can provide can help them expand their business.
Another good investment for you is body work. In the US, people often wait until a minor injury becomes a major one before they seek help. Visiting a competent soft-tissue practitioner, such as one trained in Active Release Techniques®, can help resolve many chronic injuries and even help prevent new ones. For example, people with chronic lower back pain may find that a soft-tissue practitioner who knows how to treat the psoas (a muscle involved in extending the hip) can often produce great results in resolving chronic back pain. This is not to say the practitioner can resolve all back problems, but a relatively small investment in body work may help you avoid many expensive medical diagnostic tests and consultations with medical doctors.
Finally, learn how to eat healthfully. Check out local health food stores and community education sites for cooking classes. You’ll save money by cooking your own food, and you’ll appreciate your meals more by seeing what’s involved.
In fact, take more time to appreciate yourself. Michael Masser and Linda Creed wrote the song “The Greatest Love of All,” made famous by the late Whitney Houston. The lyrics say, “Learning to love yourself/It is the greatest love of all.” Take this message to heart and make the commitment to first take care of yourself!