Everything that I had learned during my years studying personal development, peak performance, and motivation, I applied to becoming successful at my bodybuilding, training, and coaching efforts.
Bodybuilding and teaching others became my identity, passion, career, hobby, and obsession.
When a person makes a big decision like that, blocks himself in with no other options, and totally commits their lifestyle to it, they will eventually be successful at some level. There's no doubt about that.
Tom: Could you give us some contrast now by describing what you think is the difference between the type of effort that must go into building a championship level physique and the type of effort someone needs to simply lose some weight, get healthier and look fitter? I think that understanding this distinction would be very valuable to people with both types of goals -- serious bodybuilding and general fitness.
Skip: When it comes to earning the healthy and attractive body that you want, your success will be determined by your training, eating, mindset, and lifestyle organizational habits.
Those components are the same for both men and women. Those components are the same if you're young, old, or somewhere in between. And, those components are the same if you are just trying to be healthy and get into good shape--or a competitive bodybuilder striving to win national-level bodybuilding contests.
These physical, mental, emotional, and psychological factors for success are the same for everyone trying to execute those factors--no matter how different their ultimate goals may be. Talent, ability, determination, focus, organization, mental and emotional flexibility, resilience, and enthusiasm are just some of those factors that a person must use enough of to reach their goals.
No matter what your goals are, a person will need to obtain and utilize all of the same resources that everyone else has available to them to achieve success. Examples of these resources are time, energy, people to support and help them, and money (to afford food, supplements, a gym membership, and expert coaching).
So, no matter what a person's goals are, they need to manage their habits and resources in order to reach those goals.
Here's what separates a champion bodybuilder from a person who simply wants to lose some weight and be more fit: It's their "standards" or how good "good enough" is when they are pursuing their goals.
A person who wants to become a billionaire must live his life at much different standards than the person who is satisfied with making $100,000.00 a year. Heck, he must even live his life at much different standards than that of a millionaire. Whether you make $100,000.00 a year, one million dollars, or one billion dollars, you can still be a "good person" who "works hard". But, it's your standards in so many obvious and not-so-obvious areas of your life that will determine your level of success.
When it comes to person's fitness goals, the standards that they establish and execute on a consistent basis in each of the many components of physical development will make the difference their level of success.
The higher the goal you hope to achieve with your health and body, the higher the standards you must establish and execute. And, you must do so for a longer period of time.
Tom: I've noticed a "dumbing down" of nutrition and training advice in the fitness industry lately, where instead of telling their clients to raise their standards, push themselves harder and become more disciplined, many trainers are saying, "stop taking it all so seriously, don't worry about eating so clean all the time, and stop being so neurotic over the details." Is this going in the wrong direction or is this a positive move to help the average Joe be realistic and keep life in balance?
Skip: I've noticed that too! I've thought about this a lot. I attribute this to one of two things: One is the "I want it now with as little work as humanly possible mentality" that's gone overboard in our quick fix, short attention span culture. And, the other is the explosion of the interent creating an explosion of experts and gurus into fitness information market. Before, all you had were books in the bookstore and infomercials on late night television.
I believe some of the "dumbing down" is an honest attempt by some experts to teach the most efficient ways to reach your goals--while being just as effective. Look, I certainly understand the value of efficiency. There's no need to train for three hours a day in the gym if you can get the same or better results in just one hour. There's no need to cut out the spices and condiments from your food because you mistakenly believe that suffering through a meal with no taste at all will get you into better shape faster.
With all of that being said, there are only so many things you can get away with doing and without doing - and still "look good." If you are going to lower your standards, you are more than likely going to need to lower your expectations too. You can't lower your standards -and still expect outstanding results.
I think that mental approach is dangerous. It like a new employee approaching his boss and asking, "I'm committed to becoming the highest-paid employee in this company as soon as possible. Can you tell me what is the LEAST amount of work I can get away for the MOST amount of money?"
I understand where that employee may be coming from but, with so many mental and emotional factors that contribute to a person's success, that's not a good attitude. You should be WILLING to do whatever it takes to succeed--but the get right coaching and instruction so you won't NEED TO.
The explosion of the internet has made more and more fitness experts and gurus available. The threshold of what it takes to get your message out to the masses has been lowered significantly. Years ago, you had better be committed to your profession if you wanted to be successful. There was a lot of time, energy, and money you had to risk to get into business, have your book printed, or have an infomercial on television. Heck, now you can have a nice web site to sell an ebook and support it with YouTube video in a matter of day. All for a cost of less than $100.
I believe some of these experts and gurus sincerely believe that you only need to do so much to "look good". Those experts believe that their methods are effective while being intelligent and efficient. But, what they don't make clear is what is their exact definition of "looking good". Does the expert make that clear to his potential student? Does that expert even know himself?
A fat person who has been inactive most of their life can dramatically improve their level of health and fitness eating just twice a day. I agree that a person can reach a certain level of success using that eating theory--especially in the short-term. If that person thinks they are going to become a national champion drug-free bodybuilder using that approach, they are going to be sadly mistaken. And, the challenge is not going to be because of their inferior genetics or because "everyone else" uses illegal drugs and they don't.
I believe some fitness experts are simply exploiting many people's quick-fix mentality. These fitness "marketers" understand that, a lot of the time, if a person just takes any action at all they'll make improvements. So, if that's the case, make it as easy for them as possible. Hell, if they're that lazy they more than likely won't even read the ebook they bought. If they don't like the ebook and want a refund (which the marketers are betting they won't take the time to do either), it didn't really cost them much to deliver the product anyway. All-in-all, it's a good gamble on the part of the unscrupulous fitness "marketer".
When I think about it, there's one other category of fitness experts. Those are the ones who are extremely ego driven. Sure, they are giving you information but their number one motivation is being important. Experts like these just try to be different for the sake of being different. This should come off loud and clear when most of their material discusses just how great they are. I certainly understand the need to establish yourself as an authority with a certain level of credibility but, after so much of that, the focus should be on how to help the student reach their goals.
Tom: The first course I ever bought from you was a book called THINKING BIG and it was about the mindset and psychology required to be a champion bodybuilder. You actually built a major portion of your career around the mental aspects of bodybuilding. What made you go that route and what was the outcome in terms of client results and your own results?
Skip: I realized very early in my bodybuilding and training journey that a person's level of success was not solely determined by the training strategy or nutritional program they adopted. All you need to do is look around and see all the people with great bodies using different strategies.
I also chose to believe that great genetics or physique-enhancing drugs were not the determining factors in a person's level of success either. All you need to do is look around and see people with great genetics who squander their opportunity to be truly outstanding. All you need to do is look around and see all the men who are taking drugs and look terrible.
Now, I want to emphasize that I used the phrase "chose to believe" for a specific reason. I realize that many people who struggle with their health and fitness efforts tend to "choose to believe" just the opposite. They believe that people with great bodies are simply more genetically gifted that they are and/or use physique-enhancing drugs. That choice they've made is having a tremendous impact on how well and how consistently they execute all of those physical, mental, emotional, and psychological factors for success I previously mentioned--whether they realize it or not.
I'm not implying that a person doesn't have genetic limitations. I'm not implying that physique-enhancing drugs don't help those who use them. What I am stating is that jumping to those conclusions before you have exhausted all of the resources that are available to you will prevent you from becoming the best YOU can be.
I built my teaching and coaching career around the mental aspects because that's what I 100 percent believe makes the biggest difference in a person's level of success.
Tom: Honestly, was it ever tough to sell bodybuilders on the mind in bodybuilding concept in a sport where everyone seems more concerned about which supplements to take and what's the latest bicep building strategy?"
Skip: I'm not sure if I ever thought about how tough it was because I had such strong beliefs about what would help my students the most effectively. Maybe I was just too naive to notice any resistance.
To be an effective leader, I refer to the famous line in the movie Field of Dreams that starred Kevin Costner: "If you build it, they will come."
I just teach people what I believe in 100 percent. The people who are inspired come and I never hear from the people who I don't because they are perusing the philosophies that suit them best.
I recently watched an online seminar with six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. For an hour straight, he was asked specific training and a couple of eating and supplement questions. I was thinking to myself, "Guys! You have this incredibly accomplished person with such an amazingly determined mindset--and you're using this rare opportunity to ask him which one is better: curls with a straight bar or curls with a EZ-Curl bar?"