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Health and Fitness is an N=1 Experiment

In today’s world, on social media or in your personal life, it’s easy to be influenced by a person with fitness appeal. They seem to have it together and you want some of what they’ve got. This doesn’t mean they have to be a “fitness model” but can simply be someone who you look up to, maybe even aspire to look like. They may provide inspiration and motivation through posts, actions, and stories. But we have to be cautious to create our own goals and strive for our own successes, not mirror those of others.

There are factors, some out of our control, which influence our fitness progress. We can’t always follow the exact path as those who we consider to be role models.


Take a look to your parents for this one. Genetic pre-disposition plays a factor in how your body responds to certain training or foods you eat.

As someone who stands at 5’1”, I can only get so strong. As a female, I can only reach a certain level of body fat before the risk of health complications. These limits are out of my control. But, I can control where I sit within these limits and build strength proportionate to my muscle mass and body weight. I can monitor my body fat percentage and stay within a healthy range for my age and sex.

Although we must acknowledge its influence, we can’t put all the blame on genetics for not accomplishing a goal, looking a certain way, lifting a set amount of weight, or permanently holding us back. As a personal example, heart disease and high cholesterol is present in the health history of all four of my grandparents. Each of my grandparents had multiple bypass surgeries. Knowing this, I can use it to monitor my exercise and nutrition so I don’t fall into poor habits that will increase the chance of issues arising.

Health and Fitness History

How long have you been working out? How many days per week do you train? How long are you in the gym for? What do you typically do for your workouts; is it more strength training or cardio-based?

All of these questions play a factor in how you’re going to respond to a given program. If you’re just starting a health and fitness journey, you may not have to have a tough workout 5+ days a week. On the flip side, if you’ve been training for a while, you may not be able to get away with only 2-3 days of 45-minute training sessions.

As we look at our role models and inspiration, it’s important to keep in mind that they likely do not have the exact same history with exercise. You may respond complete differently to an identical program.

Personal Preference

In my opinion, one of the most overlooked aspects of programming is personal preference.

Let’s say you know someone lost weight by running during their training for a marathon. But if you don’t like running, that’s not the best plan for you! While sometimes we have to endure the challenges that come with participating in difficult workouts, life is too short to force yourself into a workout program that you hate.

Of course, there are programs that are better for certain goals than others. If you want to build strength, it’s not going to happen by only running. But there is a place for almost any type of exercise within a program, regardless of your goals. If you need assistance fitting your favorite exercise into your program, ask any of the trainers. They’re happy to help!

Ultimately, health and fitness is an N=1 experiment. It’s all about trial and error while taking into consideration factors that may influence your progress. There’s no way to say with absolute certainty that you’re going to find success in the same way as another person, even when following the exact same program. Find inspiration and motivation in these role models, but aspire to be the best version of you, not someone else.


Key Word: Experiment

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