Making This Year Your Year to Compete

DeShawn Fairbairn

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Brooklyn, New York, United States

Personal Training, Fencing, Karate


Recently I was inspired by one of my clients, Jovanni. He had originally had a goal to lose weight and maintain his health, but after a three month program of about three sessions per week Jovanni hit a personal record of 143.2kg (about 315lbs) on his back squat, 61.4 kg (135lbs) on his overhead press, and 111.4 kg (245lbs) on his deadlift. Enthused by his progress, he expressed his desire compete in USA Weightlifting.


In a bustling gym, I gave him a hug and lifted him off his feet. He’d been battling high blood pressure and type II diabetes before meeting me. His anxieties often got the better of his forward momentum in lifting, and as such he expressed his initial lack of confidence in his abilities. This article will discuss the mind of an average gym patron and what the drive becomes when one flips their switch and chooses to compete.



Barriers to Behavioral Change

Often times, we set New Year’s resolutions in order to emphasize the trend of the popular Instagram hashtag #NewYearNewMe—yet, we forget that isn’t true. We are the same people and the key desire should be to “change old habits into long-term behavioral changes.”


Ewing’s article regarding the psychology of New Year’s resolutions delves into a discussion between two clinical psychology professors at the University of Arizona who focus on two important things that must be overcome.


“Beyond the personal, internal values of behavior, the other thing that we look at is whether the environment will actually support the new behavior.”

Professor Stenhoff


Like most gym goers early within the year, the gym is intimidating. Commercial gym trainers might be overzealous in selling rather than connecting with clients and it becomes difficult in-between periods of either committing or reverting to the same sporadic habits as the year before.


Jovanni reminded me that his journey in fitness began as something out of a fear his physician instilled in him and second as a personal battle. He often didn’t have friends who were as serious about training. His initial training experience was not pleasant and often created more barriers to his success.



Eventually, he quit in the early half of 2018 and started with me within the latter half of 2018. In addition, his work environment provided more stress and eventually led to periods of stress eating.


Anyone with a 9 to 5 job or a managerial position understands the importance of having the opportunity to de-stress and take care of their bodies. This distressing environment often causes fatigue, irritability, depression, forgetfulness, and self-neglect.


Promote a change now by:



  1. Joining a new gym. This means getting into a gym which is affordable yet fosters a nurturing and rich ground for growth and development. Going to the gym is an investment in your health if you feel that the local gym isn’t cutting it check out other offers and inquire about the services and peak hours. Perhaps getting inspiration from others might be the push you need.
  2. Getting dialed in with a coach. Jovanni’s initial negative experience with coaching needn’t be your case. The internet is littered with online coaches, commercial gyms have well-trained staff, and hardcore gyms like weightlifting clubs and powerlifting clubs are a great investment due to the high caliber of coaching staff available.


Set Goals for Long-Term Payoff

In a short discussion with Jovanni I wanted to learn about his decision, what I can do as a coach to help him with his goals, and how others can turn on that switch.


“I wanted to do something greater than myself, that forced me to change my habits.” I want to compete now because I know I can do it. I'm getting stronger and I’m working harder. I don’t want anything to hold me back."

Jovanni Ramirez


With this kind of statement, Jovanni turned from a person who could care less about the gym into a person who wanted to reach his goals as badly as he wanted to breathe. We had to do a couple of things regarding his health concerns such as greatly reducing salt (also known as the DASH diet planning method) increasing his Omega-3 intake and increasing his cardio by mandating time on the Jacob’s Ladder.


Aside from a few clients who are active competitors in sports such as football, cycling, and basketball, my initial work with Jovanni was not sport centered and consisted of the main lifts; deadlift, squat, bench press, overhead press, and the rack pull. We added in accessory work to supplement his training and remove any potential faults in his unique lifting style. He became a ball of energy and strength—I couldn’t be a prouder coach. As he expressed to me:


“Working out was the tip of the iceberg. I wanted more. I feel that it’s become a lifestyle change; something I can look forward to each week and use as therapy."


Making This Year Your Year to Compete - Fitness, weightlifting, strength and conditioning, competition, goal setting, training plan, competition training


Realize Your Potential

For Jovanni, seeking motivation outside of himself helped him to realize his own potential. We started to push each other more readily in our time off from training to go over skills and now we are ready for his first local tourney in 2019. By teaming up with others we can achieve our potential, learn from one another, and build upon the skills we share.

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