Part 2 – Life as a Nonsensical Struggle
If you haven’t had a chance to read Part 1 – Struggling with One’s Physical Self you can check it out here
The next theme that I’ll tackle in relating Caroll’s amazing story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to our clients is the meaningless puzzle that Alice constantly finds herself in.
Put yourself in your client’s position for a minute. They’ve never stepped foot in a gym before and have read magazines / newspapers written by ‘experts’ telling them which way they should train. Unfortunately these publications contradict each other and make for a nonsensical reality.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland starts out with an unfulfilled Alice daydreaming about a reality different from her Victorian life. She then follows the rabbit for no reason other than frustrated desire for something different. Alice has no idea what she would do even if she caught the Rabbit.
Alice has, what we can consider, a loose definition of a goal when she chases the rabbit. She’s aware of her desire for a different life but has no idea how to find it. The Rabbit serves as a beacon of hope.
On a whim Alice chases the Rabbit down the hole, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.
Ring a bell? Remember 3 simple words when you start training a new client YOU’RE THE RABBIT! Alice is chasing you down the rabbit hole and it’s your job to make sense of the nonsensical world of fitness.
As Alice’s journey continues she starts to question the hierchy that exists in Wonderland. In doing so Alice begins to accept the nonsensical rules that exist in Wonderland. She also begins to question fiction vs. Reality:
“When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!”
I’m ecstatic when a client reaches this point in their development. This is where they start to bring in fitness articles and question the information that they provide.
Even though Alice starts to realize that she’s in a fantastical world her struggles to find her place continue when she reaches the Mad Hatter table. Over the conversation her conventions of the abstract notion of time are thrown out and her perceptions of language are challenged. The main theme throughout the conversation is that the rules governing Wonderland are arbitrary.
Strikes a cord doesn’t it? In the Fitness game there are no rules and those that are thought to exist are broken constantly leaving our clients to suffer. Anybody can publish and anybody can give advice. Even when the client begins to understand the nonsensical nature of the industry they’re bombarded with conflicting information that sometimes just plain old doesn’t make sense.
In the Queen’s Croquet Ground Alice starts to recognize just how backwards the world she exists in is.
…and you’ve no idea how confusing it is all the things being Alice; for instance, there’s the arch I’ve got to go through next walking about at the other end of the ground – and I should have croqueted the Queen’s hedgehog just now, only it ran away when it saw the Queen coming!
How often do your clients come into workouts fed up! They’ve had enough! As a professional this is where you need to give them guidance. Show them where to find the best videos and reading materials (Here’s a great reading list) and make sure to have frank discussions with them on the current fitness trend. (I go into how to have these conversations in detail in my book, How to ‘How to Build a Career in Personal Training (The Best Job in the World’).
Finally Alice fully grasps the nonsensical nature of Wonderland and accepts it for what it is in ‘Alice’s Evidence’. She realizes that it’s futile to make sense of the World around her. Once she passes off Wonderland as being “..A pack of cards” she returns back to her previous life as a changed and more mature woman.
Help your clients out of Wonderland by encouraging them to realize that the fitness world is nonsensical. By understanding that much of the information out there either doesn’t apply to them or is low quality they will be free to pass it off as a pack of cards and return to the matter at hand. This is to get stronger and fitter.