Personal Training Jargon: “Working out” versus “training”

"Working out" is work.Unthinkingly, I used to interchange the words “working out” and “training.”  Whenever discussing exercise of any kind, the term I used was much more a result of which word came more quickly to my tongue than the result of anything thought out.  Not anymore.  Sure, out of habit I still occasionally interchange “working out” and “training”, but not very often and it’s a habit I’m consciously trying to break.

“Working out” and “training” aren’t the same thing.  Not even close.  And I want to make sure my use of the words reflects that difference properly and with respect.  Not all exercise is the same and, more importantly, not everyone who exercises is the same.  What’s the difference?  Commitment.

I know I sound like a broken record on the point of commitment.  I seem to bring it up in most posts I write.  And it’s not because I’ve mastered commitment or become an expert on proper administration of said commitment, but I’m obsessed with it because it’s something that I, like most people, wrestle with.  And it wasn’t until I became committed to my training that I discovered what commitment really looks like.  Guess what?  It doesn’t look like “working out.”

We’ve all had jobs that we hated at one point in our lives.  We dreaded going in every morning.  At about 6pm on Sunday evening we began to feel nauseous and depressed at the notion of having to suffer through another work week.  We stared in horror at the clock, willing it to move more quickly.  We weren’t passionate about it, we weren’t trying to get promoted, it wasn’t our career; all we were trying to do was survive, to get to the end of the day.  That was the best we could hope for.  This is the equivalent of “working out.”  People who “work out” aren’t trying to advance their fitness, they’re not showing up with the passion necessary to effect change and growth, they’re just “doing time” until they can go home.  They’re doing the bare minimum, just trying to survive the workout.  And the results reflect that.  “Working out” is for people who have no interest in elevating their game, it’s for people who are desperately trying to maintain, desperately just trying not to backslide.

“Training,” on the other hand, is something that you embrace with the same fervor as your"Training" = "Commitment" = Results career.  Hopefully, you have a career that you’re pumped about, that you love (you have bad days, but they are far outweighed by the good ones), that you bring all of yourself to.  You go above and beyond the call of duty, you show up to work early and prepared, you’re fighting to get promoted, to move up the company ladder, to grow and become more successful.  That’s the approach that people who “train” take.  “Working out” is to “training” what a “job” is to a “career.”

People who are training are there to improve their sport or their general athletic ability.  They’re invested in their program.  They own it.  They’re a participant in their own success story.  They show up to their personal training or semi private training session early and ready to go.  They leave a puddle of sweat on the mat in group training classes.  They’re completely used up at the end of a kickboxing or martial arts session.  They give it their all, every time.

If you’re not getting the results you want from your fitness program, ask yourself why.  I don’t care if it’s a bootcamp class or ballet, if you approach it with all the zeal of a teenager working behind the counter at a yogurt shop (which is to say none), then you’re getting exactly the results that you deserve.  Don’t blame your personal trainer for that, that’s all on you.

If, on the other hand, you embrace your hike, softball practice, personal training session, group fitness class, 10k, or yoga like a young kid who wants to go from the mail room to the boardroom, chances are your yield on that commitment is going to be substantial and gratifying.

No one is in control of your commitment but you.  So, ask yourself; am I “working out” or am I “training?”  Because if you’re just “working out,” it’s no wonder it feels so much like work.

Jonathan Aluzas is the owner of Arena Fitness, a personal training, semi-private training and group exercise facility in Encino, California.