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The enlightened gym rat

By Chris Clovis

Chris Clovis BlogA while back I was reading an interview with a world-renowned personal trainer. He said — as a broad generalization — that men and women approach exercise very differently. According to this expert, men tend to focus on their strengths, while women tend to focus on their weaknesses. Put another way: While working-out, men push the strongest areas of their bodies, while women zero-in on the parts that need the most improvement.

Strolling through the gym, you’ll often see men with huge arms doing nothing but curls; while women are targeting problem areas such as backsides, back-of-arms, fat burn, etc. This tendency produces “Chicken-Leg-Syndrome”: The gym rat with enormous upper-body yet weak, skinny legs. Another common sight is the overweight, barrel-chested Gorilla camping-out on the bench press instead of the treadmill; even though what he needs is less body fat, not more bulk. You might call this approach counter-productive, and you’d be right. Bottom line — women workout smarter. But why?

Allow me this theorem: Men often workout to boost their ego. Women typically workout to get results.

I know that’s a huge generalization, but bear with me on this. We men focus on the parts of our bodies that are strongest. For example, bench presses come easy to a man who’s built like a fireplug. He pushes a bunch of weight and feels powerful. Plus he gets to show off, looking good in the mirror with pumped pecs and flowing endorphins. Now place that same stocky, inflexible guy on a treadmill, and he’s miserable. Thus he sticks to the bench. Only problem is he never really gets into shape.

Now contrast that to a woman at the gym. She knows each weakness, and that frustration drives her to action. She wants results, knows how to measure them (maybe it’s the scale, maybe a dress size) and focuses on that measurement. Unlike the strutting males, she often avoids mirrors until she’s ready to track success. Since she’s results-based, she takes a holistic approach to her plan: Not just cardio, but strength training, yoga and a new diet. She knows results will only come with corresponding lifestyle changes.

Guys don’t think this way. What drives us to the gym is more primal. It’s alpha-male behavior that’s hardwired into our DNA. Watch men eye each other in a free-weight room sometime. It’s a hilarious display of insecurity, machismo, comparison, intimidation, envy, bromance and gloat. Not exactly enlightened -- but hey, we’re guys.

Ok — so away from the gym, what approach do you take while running your business?

Believe it or not, overemphasis of strengths is common in the business world, and can stagnate us. Enhanced focus to strengthen weak areas doesn’t impede overall results, it improves them.

At the dealer level we see this all the time. It’s the low-cost, high-volume store who’s really good at moving iron, but weak in CSI or grassroots events. Or how about the shop with the amazing service department, but pathetic apparel selection? You’ll hear excuses like “Our Customers love us for our top-notch service department — they won’t buy jackets here, it’s not what we’re known for.” Don’t blame your customers, it’s YOUR business. You decide what you want to be known for.

I’m not suggesting we try to become all things to all people. Knowing your strengths is very important. Like I said, it’s your job and your business; you decide what your focus is. However if you want to grow, expand and improve that business, you’d better know your weaknesses even better than you know your strengths.

One last thing: Beyond the fact that women are more evolved, there is another key difference: Measurement. In fitness, women do a fantastic job of setting a goal, developing a complete tactical solution and then measuring progress. The same applies in the business world, regardless of what business you’re in. Set a goal, build the strategy and measure the progress. Target your weaknesses; change, improve and monitor the results.

We may not be able to change our caveman DNA, but let’s become the most enlightened gym rats we can be.

Ride On,


Chris Clovis has had the honor and pleasure of 25 years in the Powersports Industry, currently serving as Vice-President of Eaglerider Motorcycles [www.eaglerider.com], as well as a proud gym rat caveman. Chris’ opinions are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of his employer, publisher, or clients. Visit www.chrisclovis.com for more information.

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