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Fitness 101: The Reality of Results


Our fitness expert Chris Matsui says theres' no get-fit pill. But there is a no-nonsense perscription.

Photo of Robbie Rlgers by Nathan Poekert.

Getting fit always looks so much easier in photos. You know the kind: a "before" shot of a super-overweight dude, and then an "after" shot, in which he's suddenly transformed into a jacked fitness god in only six weeks. The catch is, you need one special pill -- and "it can be yours for just $400! Act now and you can have the perfect program guaranteed to provide these incredible results!"

We know it's a scam, and yet these ads are effective. Someone is always willing to take the gamble and fall for nonsensical marketing ploys. But the reality of obtaining results is:

1. Tenacity is necessary.

If you want results, stick with the program. You can't train four times a week and then stop for three weeks and expect to make significant progress. We all have excuses, but if you really want to see change, you'll find a way to work out at least two to three times a week.

I love the story of Bernard Roth (author of The Achievement Habit), who tells of when he wanted to see a particular movie. His wife was lukewarm on the idea, so she said it was sold out. What did Roth do? He sprang into action, going to the box office and asking to be notified of any cancellations. He waited close by and then asked people in line if anyone had extra tickets. He ended up getting his two tickets. The moral here: If you don't want to do it, the world will give you a good reason it can't be done. But if you really want it, nothing will stop you.

2. Expectations must be realistic.

Fitness media have skewed people's expectations of the results of exercise programs. I get clients who say they want to get bigger but not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. As if! You can train correctly and maintain a perfect diet for years and still not look like Arnold -- but that doesn't mean you won't look great.

3. It can suck.

Diet and training aren't always fun. If they were, everyone walking down the street would be ripped. To get the body you want, you may have to give up some lifestyle choices -- indulgent restaurant meals, binge drinking, that sneaky tub of Haagen-Dazs. Be prepared to sacrifice. You can't expect to get results while continuing to party and eat out every day. (Unless you have some freak gene, in which case my hat is off to you.) Achieving your goal is going to be uncomfortable and challenging, but it will become less difficult over time.

Chris Matsui is a New York City-based performance trainer. Find him at

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