Author Archives: brendapadams

Is the Fitness Industry Part of the Obesity Problem?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the reasons why it’s so difficult for so many people to make the changes they need to in order to get in better shape.

In the fitness courses that I teach I ask my students to list marketing messages that the general public is exposed to from the fitness industry. Here’s some examples:

  • Fitness has to be hard to work
  • If you aren’t completely exhausted you aren’t working hard enough
  • Getting in shape takes lots of time and is expensive
  • The whole point of getting in shape is to get skinny

Do you relate to any of these statements? Take a moment to really think about each one. If any of these statements feel true to you, no wonder you struggle to make the changes you need to get in better shape. Hard work, exhaustion, lots of money, you’re not successful until you’re skinny. Yeah, sign me up for some of that.

The more I think about how fitness is marketed, the more I start to wonder if what we’re doing in the fitness industry is actually part of the problem. Would you feel different about getting in shape if you were exposed to more messages about moving your body in the name of health, in the name of feeling better, in the name of it’s just good for you? Hmm, I wonder.

And it’s not entirely the fitness industry’s fault. Part of the problem is human nature. People want results and they want them fast. This is what drives the creation of fitness programs and products that cost money, and require you to work out at an intensity that you can only sustain for 30 or 60 days (if you’re lucky). Now, if the fitness industry promoted the 12 month, get healthy for life type of program, no one would buy it.

So what do we do?

If we keep marketing fitness the way we’ve been doing it people will continue to believe that it has to be hard, that you have to be skinny to be successful and that you’re not good enough the way you are. 

[Tweet “If we market fitness in the long-term reality that it is, no one will buy it.”]

I would love to hear your thoughts on how we can change how we promote fitness in a way that would encourage and inspire more people to get in shape.



Get Your Shit Together Or Get Out Of My Industry

I love to teach people. I am a born teacher. And in any course that a person takes with me, they will be guaranteed to experience at least two or three “soap box” moments. You see, there are certain topics that I get really passionate about, really heated about. So you will notice that this post is a bit more “pithy” than usual.

This particular soap box moment is about professionalism. And if you are not in the industry I use as the example here, simply insert any industry of choice I would bet that the story holds true.

Part of the work I do is teaching and training people who want to become fitness professionals. Now I don’t know how fitness professionals are viewed where you are, but in most places I have been they are not viewed the way I would hope that they would be.

Let’s see why…

Step into your garden variety fitness centre or gym and watch the front desk staff, personal trainers and group fitness instructors for a moment. What do you see? In most cases it is a front desk person who is too busy reading the latest issue of Muscle Magazine to bother even making eye contact with you. It is a personal trainer who for $60 an hour will watch you work out while they eat their boiled chicken and steamed broccoli while they check Facebook on their phone. And it is a group fitness instructor who sees their class as a way to work out while they get paid.

Now, please understand, I am not painting all fitness professionals with this brush. There are really amazing front desk staff, personal trainers and group fitness instructors out there. The challenge is, like most of us, the general public who come to us fitness professionals for help, remember (and share) the bad experiences more freely than the good.

So, think about how you show up in your workplace. How to you interact with your customers, what level of service do you provide? Now imagine that you had that same experience in your doctors office. Imagine walking in and the receptionist just sat there reading a magazine and never looked up. Imagine having your doctor eat their lunch and check Facebook on their phone while you are trying to explain the reason for your visit. You would be outraged, you would be appalled.

So why aren’t we appalled when this happens in a gym? Why do we accept sub-standard customer service? It’s time that the general public, and fitness professionals alike, demand more from our industry. The amazing fitness professionals dedicate their heart and soul to mastering what they do, to continually learning how to help their clients even better. And they are getting a bad name from all those other fitness people who really just want an easy paycheque and a free gym membership.

True fitness professionals are educated, dedicated and do what they do because they love helping others. If the staff at the gym that you go to, or work at, don’t fit that bill, I suggest you take your business elsewhere.

[Tweet “Enough with the crappy service and the lack of professionalism”]

It’s time for these people to get their shit together or get out of my industry.

You Can’t Course Correct If You’re Standing Still

This is a quote that I have heard some version of a few times in the past 6 months and it has really stuck with me. Let’s think about it in more concrete way…If you park your car and turn off the engine, and then turn the steering wheel, what happens? Nothing. Now if you start the car, press the gas and start moving, then turn the wheel, now you can change the direction you are going.

So, in your life, if you aren’t moving, you can’t alter the course you are on. Where this seems to show up the most,is when we are feeling overwhelmed. I know for me, when I am feeling overwhelmed I almost feel paralysed There are so many things that I need to do and I can’t seem to get started on any of them. You need to get out of the overwhelm so that you can take action, get moving and take control of the direction of your life. So how do you get out of overwhem? Here is one way…

Stay Focussed on the Task at Hand

It’s actually impossible to feel overwhelmed if you’re living in the present moment. So if you’re truly present to what’s going on in your life right now, it is physically impossible to feel overwhelmed. So when you feel overwhelmed, that’s your first indication that you’re not truly being present in the moment because overwhelm comes from thinking about all the things in the future that you need to do.

The future might be 5 minutes away or it might be 15 years away. And I’m not saying that we should never look ahead. Of course, we need to be looking ahead. We need to have an idea of the direction we want our life to go and how we’re gonna get there, and in those moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s not because you’re charting out your life plan. It’s because your brain is being bombarded and bogged down by all these different things that you know that you have to do that you haven’t done yet.

So, pick something, anything, that you need to get done. And while you are doing that task stay focussed only on that task.

Here is an example. You may find yourself reading this blog for a moment or two, but then your brain drifts to thinking about what you’re gonna make for dinner, and that thought leads to your brain creating a virtual shopping list which reminds you that, “Oh, shoot, I have to get gas before I go to the grocery store,” which reminds me that, “Oh, I gotta take the care in for an oil change,” which then reminds you that you’re car’s getting kind of old, maybe you should think about trading it in. “Do we wanna get something bigger, something smaller? I don’t know if I wanna trade it in, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

So you’ve gone from reading this post to what am I gonna make for dinner to we need to buy an SUV. Does that sound familiar? No wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed. Your brain has so many different things that it’s trying to process all at the same time. So to deal with that, think about only what you’re reading in this post, if we’re using this as our example. If you start to think of something else, grab a piece of paper, quickly write it down and bring your attention back here. So, as the thoughts come in, as you’re reading what I’m sharing with you, if something else pops into your head that’s completely unrelated, write it down, your brain knows that it’s safe, you can come back and then pay attention to the call once again.

Just Do Something

Here’s the thing, you just need to do something. Anything will get you moving. It could be a really small task like putting dirty clothes in the laundry, or it could be a bigger task like filing your taxes. It doesn’t matter, you just have to get into action. And when you’re in action, if you start to feel overwhelmed, remind yourself to only think about the task at hand and when the task is done you can think about all that other stuff.

Once you get something done you start to build momentum and then it is easier to get more things done. Just start moving.


1 Step to a Happier Life

My last post was about losing 30 pounds by clearing up the clutter. Of course I was referring to mental/emotional pounds. So many of us struggle, struggle all the time with everything it seems. We struggle with eating healthy, we struggle with being active, we struggle with being a stressed out, frustrated, overall unhappy person. And what is becoming more and more clear to me is that so much of this struggle is due to things that seem completely unrelated. Key phrase there, they seem unrelated.

What are all the outstanding things you have on your to-do list that you keep putting off? Take a moment, write them down. No, really, write them down, now.

I mean it, write them down.


So you have your list. It might feel a bit overwhelming. Here’s the thing, it will only get worse if you do nothing about it. I hate to break it to you, but there aren’t magic fairies flying around just waiting to do these things for you. No magic fairy that is going to take my car to get an oil change or mop my kitchen floors. And when you have all these things looming, hanging over your head, everything in life feels harder. It’s harder to cook a healthy meal, it’s harder to go outside and play with your kids in the backyard, it’s harder to take a deep breath and be patient with your partner.

You only have so much mental and emotional energy, just like you only have so much physical energy. When you are tapped out mentally/emotionally your capacity for taking care of things is less. So, the to-do list gets longer and things spiral downwards.

The fix is easy. Choose one thing are your list and get ‘er done. That’s it. Get your ass in gear and take control of your life.

If you are a Personal Trainer working with a client who is struggling, ask them to make a list and as part of their training homework have them start knocking things off. Because here’s the deal,  if your client is bogged down by their looming list of things to-do, there is no way they can give 100% to their training or their healthy lifestyle. They won’t reach the goals they have set with you, which is frustrating for both of you.


Lose 30lbs – PURGE

I recently came across a quote about letting go:

“By letting go, you will empower yourself. You are letting go of the weights that are pulling you down from seeing new possibilities.” – Vanessa Vandy

And at the time the quote caught my attention, I found it interesting and then I moved on to something else (I am sure that this will become a post in itself at some point).

Over the next week I felt the urge to purge. I purged my closet of all the clothes that my post-baby body is not yet ready for, my kitchen of all the gizmos, gadgets and random pots and pans, storage containers with no lids, lids with no storage containers, my carport of all the “we will use it someday” things. I purged the material aspects of my life.

And a funny thing happened. I feel so much lighter, more hopeful, more optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, I am typically an easy-going, the future is bright kind of person. And like everyone else I sometimes get bogged down in life. Since the purge I wake up feeling excited about life again, energized to do the things I love. Mentally, I feel like I lost 30 pounds.

Now, if your mind immediately goes to that place of freaking out because these are things you paid money for, things that maybe, one day, at some point in the future you just might use, here is a trick. Put all the things you think you don’t need into a box and date it. In 6 months, whatever you have not used in that box, give away. If you didn’t need it in the last 6 months you don’t need to keep it. It is weighing you down.

So, for those of you working with clients who are struggling, maybe suggest a material clean-out of their life. As the quote says, “by letting go, you will empower yourself. You are letting go of the weights that are pulling you down from seeing new possibilities.”

What would your clients be able to do if they mentally felt 30 pounds lighter? What would you be able to do?

I Don’t Drink Water

I don’t like drinking water. Which all my fitness students, friends and family find to be quite ironic. How can a fitness professional, who teaches people to become fitness professionals, not drink water? I will go a couple of days without drinking water. Now I am still getting fluids through the foods I eat, milk I drink etc. but am lacking on the pure water intake.

This has been a struggle of mine for more than a decade. I have tried all the tricks…adding flavor to the water, having a water bottle with me all the time, telling myself that by the end of the day this jug of water has to be gone etc. None of it has worked.

And then something miraculous happened. I bought a Starbucks cold beverage cup. I now drink 3-4 of those of water everyday. No joke.

At first I thought it was because it was kinda fun to use a straw. The cup worked because it made drinking water more fun. But that didn’t seem like it was the thing. How could a straw fix a decade old problem? And then it dawned on me. Drinking from this sealed cup, that has a straw, is easier than a bottle – there is no lid to take off and put on. Nothing to open. Just sip and you’re done.

We have heard for years that the healthy choice needs to be the easy choice for people to adopt it.

So, in whatever you and/or your clients are struggling with, take a minute to think about how you could make it just a tiny bit easier. It may already seem easy and there may be a way to make it easier still. I didn’t think that drinking from a bottle was hard, but drinking from a straw is just plain easier.

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What sets you apart?

So I am on this quest to teach Personal Trainers how to incorporate some simple Life Coaching tools into the work that they are already doing with their clients. I have presented my model at a few conferences now and the feedback has been astounding, Personal Trainers love it! I presented at another conference yesterday and as part of my pre-presenting prep routine I try and think of the questions that participants might ask me. And a funny thing happened as I thought of this….a question came up that I have never thought of before and that has never been asked before. And the more I think of it the more it seems that this should be the first questions that Personal Trainers ask.

“Where do I get the time to use these tools with my clients, my sessions are already jam packed.”

Here’s the simple answer…..Not all your clients will be ready for this type of work. The clients who are ready, they will love taking 10-15 mins of a session here and there to use the Life Coaching tools. So, it will require that you redesign a session every so often so that you have those 10-15 mins that you need. And your clients will love it! By working with them in this way they will have an entirely different training experience. We live and work in an experience based economy, it is no longer good enough to simply offer a service. You must offer an experience with your service, this is what will set you apart from other Personal Trainers.

Remember, if you (and your client) believe in something you will make the time that you need for it. If you don’t see how you could possibly make the time to work with your clients in this way then this isn’t a fit for you right now.

If you haven’t had a chance to take this workshop with me yet and you are interested, drop me an email ( I am in the process of developing this training into an online workshop and can send you the details when it is ready. Or, if you are really keen, and I mean really keen, email me right away as I have a few spots open for a free pilot program I am offering “Life Coaching Skills Bootcamp for Personal Trainers”.


Are powders and pills replacing whole food?

Lately I have been reading and hearing a lot of information about different supplements/products that fitness professionals are using themselves and selling to their clients to help them reach their goals. The results seem to be impressive. People are losing weight, they say they are feeling better and for some it has also become another source of revenue.

So, here is the first place where I am a bit stuck. Fundamentally, I think that these supplements/products are a band aid solution to people not making their health a priority. They are choosing not to cook healthy food. There are lots of reasons that they will give you, I am too busy, the food we buy in stores today doesn’t have the same nutritional value, etc. And at the end of the day, if you value eating healthy you will make the time and you will find quality foods.

Here is the second place that I am stuck. If the people using these products are not willing to take care of their health through whole food then are the products they are taking better than nothing?If they are becoming healthier should it matter how they get there?

When I think about this whole scenario I wonder if nutritional products/supplements are the next evolution in how we nourish our bodies. Think back a few generations, people grew their own food. Then society changed and people stopped growing their own food, and started buying it from others. Then society changed again and they cooked their own food less, they ate out, bought pre-cooked meals. So, are pills and powders the next evolution? Will they slowly start to replace whole food all together?

As a life coach, when a client is not taking care of something important in their life we often start to dig a bit deeper to see where else they are selling themselves short. Where we struggle in our life is often a symptom of something else that is going on. If a client continually chooses not to make their nutrition a priority, why is that? What else are they shoving off to the side? Until the client figures out what the underlying issue is they will continue to struggle. It may appear that they are conquering things in their life but really they are just trading one struggle for another.

So, if you or your clients are choosing to use pills and powders instead of whole foods I encourage you to sit for a moment and really ask yourself why you have chosen this path instead of real food. No judgement, just curiosity. When we are clear around why we are making decisions we are much more likely to make the right decision and to stick with it.

Walk in your client’s shoes

So over the past month I have embarked on a couple of self-induced week-long challenges. The first was cutting out the sugar in my coffee (which I still do). The second was decreasing TV time to one hour per night and the third was to cut out TV completely (I am back to watching one hour per night).

The biggest impact this had on me was to remind me of how hard it is to change our behaviors.

As Personal Trainers we are paid by people to help them change their behaviors. And I think that it’s easy to forget how hard that actually is for them. They come to us, inactive. We ask them to become more active. They come to us with poor nutrition, we ask them to eat better. They come to us lacking sleep, we ask them to sleep more. Any one of these behaviors, on its own, is a huge undertaking to change. And many trainers expect their clients to start all those changes in their first week of training!

So I challenge you, the Personal Trainer, to change one of your behaviors, for the better, for a week. When we challenge ourselves to change a behavior we experience a bit of what our clients experience. Knowing what our clients might be feeling is a powerful tool to help understand where they are and how to move them forward.

Next time you are working with a client take a step back and really look at what you are asking them to change. Remember that change is hard, don’t expect them to tackle everything at once.

TV free week – we survived!

So, we survived TV free week. It was interesting to notice that we went to bed a lot earlier each night which was great. The interesting part was that when it was 8:30 and we were thinking of going to bed my first thought was that it was too early, we could still do stuff. And in the past the stuff that we would do was watch TV. Not really enhancing the quality of our life. Getting an extra 1.5 hours of sleep, now that makes things better.

We had two blips in the week. One night we watched 30 mins of TV and another night we watched 45 mins. And both times we ended up not really watching the TV, we ended up talking or puttering around the house. And even now, I watched some TV yesterday and it didn’t really interest me. I turned it off half way through a show.

I think it all leads to what happens when you break a habit, any habit. You get it out of your system and when you start “allowing” yourself to have it again you don’t want it like you did before. And all it took for us was one week. One week to break the hold that watching TV had on us.

What has a hold on you? What habits do you want to change? Eating less sugar, playing more with your kids, getting up earlier? Challenge yourself to break that hold for just one week, for seven days. You will be amazed at how different everything feels when you come out the other side into a new week, into a new way of living your life.