Sunday, May 3, 2015

Leave Your Comfort Zone

By Andrew McGunagle

At the beginning of this month I quit my job as a personal trainer at a commercial gym. After a few weeks of prep back at home, I packed up my car and set off on a solo road trip around the United States. Today was my first day on the road and, honestly, it’s been a long day. It’s been a great day, but long nonetheless.

While my departure on a solo road trip might lead you to believe I’m adventurous, honestly, I’m really not. I’m not consumed by wanderlust, and my life doesn’t look like a commercial for cheap beer. In reality, I’ve long been a bit of a homebody. Most weekends of my life I’ve stayed in rather than going out to explore and meet new people.

Despite my timid tendencies, I made a commitment to embarking on a journey that would force me to expand. I’m off to see new places, meet new people, do new things and, above all, escape the cycle of the same old comfort and familiarity. If this exhausting first day of travel is any indication, it’s not going to be an easy transition. Nevertheless, I’m confident the novelty of my travels will move me closer to becoming the best version of myself I envision.

Astro van showdown in San Simeon...I lost.
Now, this isn’t an article about quitting your job to roam the earth. Regardless of whether or not you identify with my self-improvement trek, I want you to consider your fitness comfort zone. I know my propensity to resist the unfamiliar extended into the gym, and helping a number of people towards their fitness goals has taught me I’m not an outlier.

All too often many of us get caught in a routine of exercises we’re comfortable with and a training plan we’ve gradually molded to match our preferences. It’s certainly important to enjoy your training and feel adept during your lifting sessions, but I reckon many of us take this too far. If your progress has slowed, then take a step back from your plan and think about it – when is the last time you did something different?

I’m not really an advocate of employing endless permutations of basic exercises, but there are plenty of other variables to manipulate. Rep ranges, RPEs, tempos, rest periods, periodization schemes – the list goes on and the options are countless. Those things you tried and had trouble with as a beginner and swore off forever? Maybe it’s time to revisit them now that you’ve got more experience. Or, simply start to do a few things you’ve never done.

While we can certainly become creatures of habit in the gym, this phenomenon is far more frequent when it comes to eating. We tend to eat the same foods, make the same recipes, adhere to the same meal frequencies, serve the same portion sizes, and generally do about the same things for years and years regardless of the effects our habits have on our physiques.

Awareness can break this cycle, but sometimes becoming mindful isn’t enough to prompt change. This is why working with an experienced coach can be so valuable. Beyond providing expertise and increased accountability, a coach often supplies the extra push to confidently pursue untested options.

Coaching can cause avenues you never considered to suddenly open, and you can quickly be set back on the path towards progress. Your new path may not entail a cross-country road trip, but it will be new, exciting, and rewarding. Send me a postcard from the land of strength and health.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Excellent article Andrew. Good Luck on your Journey!

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