Culture Club

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Not to beat a dead horse, but we really have a hard time describing what it is we do that is so different than anyone else. I took the approach this week of trying to explain that what we do is really the same as any program physiologically – we just do it with safety and efficiency as our guide.

I used yoga as an example in part because the NY Times article was stiring up controversy on Facebook at the time. I had the audacity to call yoga a skill physiologically incapable of leading to tremendous strength gains. After a week’s worth of rebuttals defending the positive benefits of yoga – including one from my mother – I’d like to clarify further by saying this:

My comments weren’t not a knock on yoga as an overall program, just as a strength program.

Yoga is a “physical, mental, and spiritual discipline” that incorporates far more than just downward dog.  It is a philosophy of sorts.  However, as we know it today in the Lululemon-ed streets of white-collar America, it’s become culture.  A lifestyle. What yoga and other branded programs have done very successful is give you an image of what it is they do – what it looks like, the type of person that does it, what they eat, what they wear, the language they use.

This is where we struggle.

Our problem is that when you say lifting weights to someone a ton of negative imagery goes through their heads. People think – regardless of the truth – that lifting weights means douchey bodybuilders, meat heads, and/or fat ass powerlifters. They see guys who tan too much and far-too-masculine women.  These people take steroids, wear tank tops with speedos at every chance they get, and are about as intelligent as their neighbor’s dopey Labrador. They have bodies that are too “tight” and “muscle bound” but still manage to miss their “core” and “stabilizer” muscles when they train. Doing anything that sounds like or looks like what it is they do is an automatic negative in the eyes of many. (This is not what we believe, just what we believe popular perception might be.)

That is the unfortunate culture of weightlifting – the perception of what it is, what it does, who does it, and who can benefit from participation in it.

We could call it strength training, but people already think they do that via yoga, pilates, or whatever boot camp they do. Yes you can get stronger to a degree doing these things, but they are not by their nature real strength training. You need to lift actual weight to get and look significantly stronger. I understand that for many people these programs get them strong enough for whatever their personal goals, but there are plenty of people who find such programs do fall short in terms of meeting their physical goals.

These are the people to whom Hard Pressed speaks.

The cultural problem for us doesn’t stop there. We are, for lack of a better term “personal trainers.” Again when you hear personal trainer an avalanche of negative imagery might go through your head (plenty goes through ours). By and large personal training was never someone’s first choice at their career. They are educated and trained in something completely different and just started training to support their acting, modeling, or nightclubing careers. They take an online course, learn some system that certifies them in having you jump around like a fool, stand on one leg, and “work on your core” – whatever that means.

So how do we differentiate ourselves from this? What is it that we do differently? How do we verbalize what it is that we do, who does it, what it looks like, and why it is different than what you might think?

We can start by first giving you an idea of who our clients are and who has seen the most success with us. Our client base is a dead even 50/50 in terms of male to female. For most trainers it’s 80% female.

Most are in-between the ages of 30-45 and have the desire – with whatever they’re doing – to do it as hard as they safely can. Most other trainers train 45-60 years old who are working out because they have been told they should.

Our clients are busy professionals who were typically athletic at one point in there lives.
They don’t have time to futz around with the health club scene. They value a great workout and want great results. They have other priorities besides training, so their exercise has to fit into their current life – they are not looking to adopt a brand new lifestyle.

Many of our clients are the type who never considered getting a trainer, but a friend of theirs was so insistent they finally gave us a try. After one workout they saw the value in us, what we do, and the environment we do it in.

Our best clients are the individuals who have the burning desire to get to the top in everything they do: the hustlers, the go getter’s, the people who are gunning for the top. They come in get after it and go to work and do the same.

Too often we see people value working hard for the sake of working hard. What the Yogi in the article is talking about – What I’m talking about – is that working hard for the sake of working hard quickly becomes a fool’s errand. In our world, that’s where people get hurt. Without proper understanding of specific goals, and how physiologically we might best achieve those goals, safety and precaution get tossed out with the garbage.

Yes, Chad wears Lululemon, and Ron and I wouldn’t be caught dead in it, but that is a difference in culture and personal style.  It has nothing to do with exercise.  It’s rarely the specific modality with which we take issue – it’s the rationale for doing it. Whether it’s Zumba, Yoga, Spin, Bodybuilding, etc., why it is effective (if it is even effective at anything at all) seems to get lost in the culture of the program. It becomes not about doing something for you, but about joining the group and repeating their mantra so you believe it works (rather than measurably seeing it work).  People get lost in the culture until the program (whatever it is) proves ineffective and/or they get hurt.

If we at Hard Pressed were to describe what it is we do, it’s this:

Work hard, smart, AND SAFELY.

We are not trying to necessarily build any new culture. You don’t need ours – you already have your own. We just want to help you get as strong as possible, as safely as possible, in the most efficient way possible – so you can better enjoy the life you already have.