December is almost over and, with it, another year concludes. 2020, for many, was the most challenging year full of unprecedented challenges and delayed plans. Personally, my wife and I had to cancel our honeymoon days before our departure date. I lost my job and had to adapt my approach to my clients’ new “quarantine fitness needs.” Most relatable, I’m sure, was that I was left with an abundance of time, frustrated by how to spend it. As I reflect on the past year and the objectives set, failed, accomplished, and rescheduled, I find myself returning to the same few groups of developments that keep me anchored to success, despite what life throws at me; this became the basis of this year’s New Year’s Resolutions.
    I’ve been a Personal Trainer for over five years now, and every January (maybe not this upcoming one), the gyms fill up with people eager to make large-scale changes in their exercise habits in a short time. Yes, I’m talking about the “Resolutioners.” The unfortunate thing about short-term results is that the behaviours that maintain results develop over a 3-month time frame. As such, every March, we lose so many of our Resolutioners to their old habits and experienced failure. It’s an upsetting cycle, but this happens all the time, not just at New Years’.
    This year, I propose “behaviour-based” resolutions. In this way, you benefit from the objective (a new certification, better physique, stronger relationships), and you get the practice (time management, prioritization, communication skills). This article will share four arenas of “behaviour-based” goal setting and my approach to each arena.

4 Ways to Make New Year’s Resolutions that Actually Stick:

  1. Advance Your Education
  2. Explore a New Style of Exercise
  3. Learn a New Skill
  4. Develop Relationships

Advance Your Education – Take Care of your Mental Game

Posters on grey wall above wooden desk with computer monitor in modern workspace interior with plants

    We are currently in the “Smartphone Era,” where all of the World’s information is within the palm of our hand. The only trouble with this is that we often rely on our iPhones and Androids to summon information when we need it rather than learning the history or principles responsible for the info. Simply Googling facts and reciting the summary of other people’s research barely scratches the surface of the learning experience.
    As we get older, the plasticity of our brains tends towards reduced “neuroplasticity.” Unfortunately, we gradually lose our abilities to learn, create new habits, and break old ones as we age. That’s where we get the adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Very similar to how we exercise our bodies to stave off the aging process (muscle loss, bone density, etc.), we should be exercising our brains to improve and maintain our neuroplasticity (reading books, taking workshops, etc.).

2020 Actions

    This past year, I read half a dozen non-fiction books and attended a fantastic 2-day Instructor Workshop called Pain-Free Performance Specialist Certification (PPSC).
    My highlight book of the year was Bill Bryson’s book “The Body – A Guide for Occupants.” This book is a Fitness Enthusiast “must-read,” and is 23 chapters and nearly 400 pages explaining almost all of the body’s primary functions from the skin on the surface to the mechanism of pain.
    PPSC was 16 hours of perfectly blended education and practical application. The focus on the 6 Foundational Movements and the idea of Pyramid Programming aligned all of my previous Fitness Education behind a simple, massively effective strategy to improve my client’s movement performance, as well as my own. The folks at PPSC also have fantastic social media feeds where they all demonstrate their brilliance and ability regularly. You can find some of my Instagram favourites here:
  • @getppsc – the main page
  • @cliftonharski – Director of Education for PPSC
  • @drjohnrusin – Founder of PPSC
  • @logan.3dfit and @luishuete – Canadian PPSC Instructors

2021 New Year’s Resolutions

    This coming year, I plan on taking my education to the next level. I will be focusing a little less on reading books and focusing more on adding Continuing Education Certifications to my Professional Toolbox. I am currently enrolled in 2 courses and will be self-studying another textbook.
NASM Mental Toughness
    This 4 module course focuses on the critical aspects of psychological strength for fitness and sport. Mental Toughness helps to provide greater awareness and effectiveness in getting performance results by keeping the mind engaged, responsive, resilient, and decisive under pressure.
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach
    This course includes a whopping 24 chapters written by some of the highest qualified authors in nutrition. The certification grants students the relevant knowledge and abilities needed to design and deliver top-quality, individualized nutrition coaching for their clients.
Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett with Glen Cordoza
    Subtitled as “The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance,” this 4-part, nearly 500-page textbook provides a plethora of diagrams, examples, and practical recommendations to anyone who is recovering from injury or working to reduce the chance of injury during exercise (which should be everyone). I’m very excited to get into this particular resource because of my next New Year’s Resolution: Return to Participation.

Explore a New Style of Exercise – Take Care of Your Physical Game


    New Year’s is always a time of reflection on physical health. I have worked with many clients over the years, and many began around January with ambitions of reclaiming a more physical lifestyle. While having goals like losing weight, or building muscle, or “toning” are reasonable, we should know by now that those types of objectives don’t necessarily get people out of bed on a cold winter morning to get to the gym with much excitement.
    My advice to “explore a new style of exercise” helps Resolutioners look at their exercise enjoyment above all else. After all, people who don’t like exercise fail more often than those that love training. Suppose I can get my client to value their time spent at the gym, whether it’s due to a higher intensity, or more confidence doing the right thing, or even because of the relationship we develop together. In that case, I can get them to stay committed to their training routine long enough to see the results they want.
    This exploration in exercise style doesn’t just go for regular gym participants or Personal Training clients. It goes for Fitness Professionals as well! If we get stale with our fitness routines, it can be a slippery slope when programming for our clients. Rule: if we get stale, our clients get stale. So ditch the bodybuilding routine for one day of the week to try Kettlebell Training or Plyometrics, or go for a bike ride!

2020 Actions

    At the end of 2019, I broke my knee playing soccer. It was a non-contact injury, just a matter of too many forces going in the wrong direction around my knee. I completely tore my ACL, partially tore my MCL, strained my LCL, tore a portion of the meniscus, and impact-fractured my Femur (yeah, the big one). The recovery is ongoing today, I can only Leg Press about 140 pounds comfortably, and lunging is hit-or-miss at best. I still can’t run, but I have been able to cycle abundantly. At the end of November this past year, I was hit by a car while riding my bike. I was launched from the seat about 8 feet out in front of my bike and landed on my shoulder. The X-ray would confirm a “Rockwell-1 Separation” of my acromioclavicular joint (AC-Joint).
    Before my injury, I was training at high intensities in a “sports performance” program. Lifting heavyweights, but mostly focusing on multi-directional movements at various acceleration rates (think speed ladders, leaps, bounds, Bulgarian bag, etc.). I spent a lot of time physio trying to find ways to rehabilitate my knee; it was a painfully slow process. Now, I have my first physio appointment set for the 29th of December to start work on my shoulder.

2021 New Year’s Resolutions

    After all of the physio work that I have done in 2020 (and will likely continue in 2021), I am eager to begin on a “return to participation” program that fits right between rehab and regular fitness programming. “Becoming a Supple Leopard,” along with my specialization in Corrective Exercise (NASM), will thankfully give me more tools than others in aiding my return to participation. More importantly, however, I will be able to experience this phase of the exercise personally, allowing me to understand better the needs of so many of my clients who come to me with serious injury histories.

Learn a New Skill – Take Care of Your Passion Game


    Time is a non-renewable resource, meaning that once it’s gone, you don’t get it back. I believe that what we do with that time is essential. Being in the “Smartphone Era,” most of us spend way too much time behind a screen, especially so during this COVID-19 quarantine. It takes moments to see how much time you spend on your iPhone; go to your settings and tap “Screen Time.”
    My Screen Time last week was an average of 2 hours and 10 minutes a day, I usually like to keep it below 2 hours a day, but still, 2 HOURS A DAY spent looking at my iPhone screen. For some, it may be as much as 5 or 6 hours. One client I had a couple of years back had an average of 14 hours a day! Imagine what we could accomplish if we could cut our screen time in half. How much extra time would you have per day, and what would you do with it?

2020 Actions

    During COVID, through no fault of anyone, I lost my job. We weren’t allowed to go to gyms, so there was no work given by gym companies. Despite the circumstances, I developed an online Virtual Personal Training business (along with many other entrepreneurial trainers in my industry). I continued to help my clients all from the comfort of home. I had to develop my business skills, set prices, deliver a unique and new service, and prospect for clients online.
    Along with the Virtual Personal Training business, I wanted to find an outlet for education. So I built a website and set to work writing blog articles that you can find here at “The Lifestyle Collective.” Although the blog hasn’t had too much action, I now know how to build a website and use Word Press, MailChimp, and SEO Tools.
    Most enjoyably, I learned how to cook. As a Fitness Professional, I always hated “meal prep” and felt weird recommending it to my clients on that pretense. While I had an abundance of time and was locked indoors, I decided to buy a cookbook and start somewhere, anywhere that looked tasty. I bought Gordon Ramsay’s cookbook “Home Cooking – Everything You Need to Know to Make Fabulous Food,” and started watching “Binging with Babish” on Youtube. But the real catalyst to my joy and skill in cooking was using “Hello Fresh,” a meal and recipe food box that provides simple instructions along with the pre-measured ingredients to make home cooking enjoyable and delicious.

2021 New Year’s Resolutions

    As a result of my experience creating a website personally and my job’s needs, I currently help run this website for BCPTI. To develop my technique and skill at work, I’ve enrolled in a Web Development course through Udemy. It’s called “The Complete 2020 Web Development Bootcamp,” where I will learn to code and become a full-stack web developer. Dr. Angela Yu is a fantastic educator, and so far, I have enjoyed the first few of over 50 hours of course content that is mostly interactive.
    My Father is a professional web developer and has been for years. He spent time as a “project lead” for massive companies like WorkSafe BC and Microsoft. It’s inspiring to learn a skill that helps me be more proficient with my career while also giving my dad and me more stuff to geek out on.

Develop Relationships – Take Care of Your Emotional Game


    If there is one thing that COVID-19 has taught me, and I’m sure countless others had this epiphany as well, it’s that we have taken personal interactions for granted. When the Canadian Government instructed us to “stay home,” initially we felt fear, and then we felt distant, and then we felt sad. FaceTime videos and phone calls can only do so much.
    Luckily, at the time of writing, vaccines are currently going out to the public worldwide, which leaves me with a sense of hope that this trying time will be over soon. I’m excited to get back to family gatherings, friendly bar nights, and group fitness classes with this inspiration and prospect.

2020 Actions

    I mentioned earlier in the intro that my wife and I had to postpone our honeymoon trip. We were going to go to Paris and Rome, my first time in Europe. While that was a bitter pill to swallow, it came off the heels of a fantastic wedding night that we will never forget. March 14th, 2020 was our wedding date, and four days later, the World shut its doors to mitigate the potential spread of this deadly virus.
    Grateful for our wedding night, bummed about our honeymoon, my wife and I decided that we wouldn’t let this virus squash all of our hopes and dreams. On December 7th, at 4:00 am, our baby boy Liam was born as healthy as can be.

2021 New Year’s Resolutions

    Since the birth of our son, already our family ties have become more robust. While limiting contact and visits, both families can’t get enough pictures and videos of the big guy. In 2021, I’m eager to strengthen family bonds even tighter. My dad and I have a lot to talk about now that I’m raising a son, and I have to fortify myself to be someone my son looks up to in the future.
    My wife and I have never been closer, our relationship has changed a lot over the last 365 days, but our love has grown beyond what I thought was possible. I look forward to the next year and becoming the family man I’m not used to being. But we all have to grow up someday.

    Setting New Year’s Resolutions can be invaluable. There are plenty of cliches that describe goal setting, but, being the competitive person that I am, I’ll choose the one that pertains to sports. How can you shoot and score if you don’t know where the goalposts are? I see so many people working so hard at many different things but can’t define their success vision. Of course, scoring more goals than the other team means that you win a game. Losing 20 lbs of weight is simple arithmetic that tells you when you’ve succeeded. Receiving a certificate means that you have graduated from a program.
    New Year’s Resolutions provide a clean slate and a new jumping-off point. So when you set your resolutions this year, try this new “behaviour-based” approach, and make lots of goals. Instead of planning for money, power, and fame, this year, try to set goals that will help you mentally, physically, passionately, and emotionally.