Personal Training & Setting Yourself Up for Success in the Gym with Nick Briney

Podcast Episode #380: Personal Training and Setting Yourself Up for Success in the Gym with Nick Briney

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Personal Training & Setting Yourself Up for Success in the Gym with Nick BrineyTopics

  1. Introducing our guest, Nick Briney [2:20]
  2. Nick's four pillars [14:06]
  3. Liz's goals starting out [18:57]
  4. Small victories for the long term goal [28:07]
  5. Setting yourself up for success [35:15]
  6. Phases of learning and training [38:16]
  7. Exercise for mental health [51:20]

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Personal Training & Setting Yourself Up for Success in the Gym with Nick Briney Personal Training & Setting Yourself Up for Success in the Gym with Nick Briney Personal Training & Setting Yourself Up for Success in the Gym with Nick Briney

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 380.

Liz Wolfe: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Liz; a nutritional therapy practitioner, and author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Eat the Yolks; The Purely Primal Skincare Guide; and the online program Baby Making and Beyond. I live on a lake in the mystical land of the Midwest, outside of Kansas City.

My usual partner in podcast is Diane Sanfilippo; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and the 21-Day Sugar Detox. Her newest book, Keto Quick Start, releases on January 1, 2019. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and fur kids.

We’re the co-creators of the Balanced Bites Master Class, and we’ve been bringing you this award-winning podcast for more than 7 years. We’re here to share our take on modern healthy living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at or watch the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram account for our weekly calls for questions. You can ask us anything in the comments.

Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal.

The NTA’s nutritional therapy practitioner program and fully online nutritional therapy consultant program empower graduates with the education and skills needed to launch a successful, fulfilling career in holistic nutrition. Registration is now open for February class, and you can learn more and save your seat by going to Don’t forget to check out the NTA’s annual conference, Roots, happening March 1 through 3 in Portland, Oregon. It’s one of the most empowering and educational holistic nutritional events of the year, and all are welcome.

1. Introducing our guest, Nick Briney [2:20]

Liz Wolfe: Alright. I’m so thrilled today to have the opportunity to interview someone who has been a regular player in my Instagram stories; my trainer at Lifetime Fitness, Nick Briney. We wanted to bring Nick on the show because of his extensive knowledge base in corrective exercise, athletic training, and a range of other training and athletic modalities. And also because I’ve been working with him for many months now, achieving a level of consistency and results that have really eluded me thus far in my wellness journey. We want to talk about how we made that possible.

I was also able to correct some movement deficiencies and aches and pains that had really been bothering me for some time, thanks to his expertise. Which was huge for me. Not only do we want to dispel some of the prejudices around personal training, but I also get a ton of questions from my community about my fitness routine. And who better to explain the important points of the journey, and there are many of them, than Nick.

Nick’s path to a career in the fitness industry started when he was 18 years old and suffered a rare patellar tendon injury playing football at Coffeeville community college. After two knee surgeries within 6 months, and a string of challenging injuries that troubled his college athletic career, he recognized the need to fill the gap between rehab and performance training.

Shortly after finishing his football career, as a walk-on at Kansas State University, he graduated with a BS in Kinesiology, and started with Lifetime Fitness. His vision is to help share the challenges he’s faced as an athlete, trainer, and leader so he can make a positive impact by helping others through the experiences he’s personally faced.

Education is his passion, and he loves the opportunity to work with anyone who is eager to listen, learn, and apply with intention. Hopefully, he would think that applies to me, since we’ve been working together for like 8 or 9 months. Nick, welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast!

Nick Briney: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to chat with you today.

Liz Wolfe: This is going to be great. And, let’s give a little bit more background. {laughs} Let’s talk about me a little bit. A little more background on how you and I started working together. First, I actually want to bring up something that we have talked about in our training sessions. About your background that I think is really, really interesting. And it’s that you thought you were going to be a physical therapist. What happened? Why did you change your mind?

Nick Briney: Yeah. So I think the reason I really wanted to get involved in that is I grew up around a family who had been involved in emergency medicine. So my dad was a firefighter, EMT, paramedic, got into nursing. My step-mom, who I was raised in the same house with both of them from really about 8th grade, on, was also in emergency medicine as an ER nurse for a long time. So I think a lot of it, whether I realized it or not, I was learning to start to understand how to help people, just through their stories that they bring home on a daily basis.

When I got into college, and wanted to get into what I was going to study, most of my focus was on sports, being an 18-year-old kid. Then when I had the injury, it ultimately pushed me towards health. And really at that point more of the healthcare industry because of the experience I’d had around my parents. Knowing that they had an opportunity to make an impact on a lot of people and their health.

Then, when I got into actually shadowing. I did some in-patient shadowing around PT, or physical therapist stuff in college, it was a little bit alarming to me that I was going to potentially be stuck in a hospital. Trying to help people that really didn’t want my help, out of bed and get them to walk around. I had kind of an awkward experience with some really rough patients during some of my shadowing time. It was a pretty rude awakening that this is definitely not the environment that I want to be in on a long-term basis.

So here I am with about a semester left at K State, and kind of re-overviewing really what I wanted to do long-term. Then I looked at what you can do with a kinesiology degree, and thought I’d definitely want to make use of all the education I went out and got. I came across Lifetime in Kansas City. I thought; ok. I’ll go to school later down the road. I can be a trainer now, make some money. See what it’s about. I had no idea that it would end up opening a door for me to really chase my career in fitness and health. And ever since then, it’s just been something I’ve super enjoyed, and has really reeled into my passion.

Liz Wolfe: And you are perfect for this industry, I think. And really probably a guy that; you’ve really helped to shatter all of my prejudices that I came in with about one-on-one training. I think a lot of our listeners are crossfitters or former crossfitters, and at a certain point I think a lot of us, as much as we love group fitness, we also hold this prejudice about one-on-one training. That it’s basically; I’m going to actually maybe let you tell the story of what I said to you when we first met.

Nick Briney: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Kind of funny. It had been a long time since I had worked out at a gym. I had a history with CrossFit, and then we moved to the farm. And I thought, you know, farm work. That’s basically CrossFit. Throwing bales of hay around. Not so much, but we didn’t really have a gym anywhere close to us. And at the same time, I had just had a kid, and couldn’t really figure out how to leave my house anyway.

But when we moved away from the farm really to the city again where there was a gym within 10-15 minutes, I thought it’s time. It’s time for me to do something good for myself. And as you know, and as we talked about, it was as much for my mental health as it was for my physical health. But, when we were doing the tour of Lifetime Fitness, I’m feeling pretty impressed but I’m also struggling with that prejudice about one-on-one training. So what was the first thing I said? {laughs}

Nick Briney: Yeah. I will never forget this. And I’ll probably tell stories about this for years. Especially considering the relationship we’ve built through you staying committed. Liz walked up the stairs at the time the account manager helped her out had walked her up and introduced me. And every member that is on tour usually tries to meet a trainer when we’re at the club. {laughs} I think it was Sarah, had come up and was like; “Hey this is Liz. She’s interested in checking out the gym. Just moved into the area recently. Is a mom trying to get back into shape. I think she even has some questions about training, too.”

And the first thing you said was, “Yeah, but I just really don’t want to work with a Jillian Michaels’ style trainer.”

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Nick Briney: So I immediately was like; whoa, this is going to be a challenge. But I love challenges. So yeah, I fight that prejudice every day. I think it comes up just because you have, unfortunately, people that fit it. It’s a stereotype for a reason. And unfortunately, not every trainer is a fitness professional. And I try to use that lingo, because there really is a difference between someone that’s just a rep counter, or come in and take you through a really hard workout and run you into the ground. I think anybody can really do that if they wanted to. It doesn’t take a cert, it doesn’t take education. But yeah, it was hilarious. Because I’ll never forget that first interaction that we had.

Liz Wolfe: I kind of remember. And just, my personality is; I will question myself and run something that I’ve said through my head over and over again, often times I will send what my friends call a follow-up text. And that’s when I apologize for whatever it was that I said an hour before.

But after that came out of my mouth, I was like; Liz. What a jerk you are. But it was totally ingrained in my head. And I think I’d had experiences at other gyms; CrossFit and non-CrossFit. Where it was really just an environment of kicking your but, laying you out on the floor, and not really worrying about your mental health and how that ties into your physical health. How you feel that day. It’s just really all about that gut check that people really want to just get laid out. And that is not what you do.

Nick Briney: Not at all. No.

Liz Wolfe: So after that point, I made an appointment with you to talk a little bit about one-on-one training. And that was something that I knew I wanted to do. And I’m not sponsored by Lifetime Fitness or anything like that. But I really, really, really like how things are done at your gym. And how you lead the staff, and how you train, and everything that’s going on there at Lifetime Fitness in Lenexa, Kansas. That’s the one that I go to. I’m really, really impressed with. And that hasn’t been my experience at other gyms.

So I’ve been really happy with it.

Nick Briney: Well thank you.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah! I made an appointment with you to sit down, feeling like; kind of feeling like I knew what to expect and we were just going to talk about how many calories you were going to help me burn. Which is ridiculous.

Nick Briney: {laughs} Yeah, no, it’s right in line with what most people think. I’m just happy that you were able to let me bring that barrier down. Because there are; I’ve had so many experiences where people come in with preconceived notions, and they are so wrapped around that being what it is, and what it will always be, that I don’t even have the opportunity with some people to actually break through that perception of what a trainer is or isn’t. So I think that was a big piece of it too. Is that one I’ve had experience in it to, thankfully, be able to know that any time I’ve had a strong personality come in, like yourself, I know; you know what? I’ve got to find a way to build value in this for you and let you see it for what you would think it’s valuable for.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Nick Briney: And a lot of that was just asking you a ton of questions, and kind of getting down to the root of why you actually came in the first place.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. And I at least came with a smidge of humility, because I knew that I really needed this. And I also knew; Diane and I talk on the podcast a little bit about personality types. And I’ve kind of discovered, through Gretchen Rubin’s framework, and I’ve told you. I’ve talked to you about this, that I’m an Obliger. So I knew that the only way that I was going to show up is if you were waiting for me to show up. It wasn’t going to be group fitness. It wasn’t going to be signing up for a spin class. That wasn’t going to keep me accountable. It was going to be having one person there waiting just for me, and I was going to show up. And show up I have for like 8, 9 months now.

Nick Briney: Yeah, you’ve been super consistent. And it’s funny, we actually talked about this yesterday, too, about clients that are and aren’t. And I think you had mentioned only one day, one mental health day. Which I’m 100% on board with. Over 8 or so months, I think it’s ok to have had only miss one day. But you’ve been great. You’ve been super consistent with it.

Liz Wolfe: That mental health day, if anybody is wondering; there was a day where I just felt like my kid, work, life. I was so overwhelmed, I literally texted Nick and said; if I have to do one more thing today, I will cry. I need to stay home. And he was like; ok. {laughs}

Nick Briney: Yeah, of course. And I think it does help that we had trained; I think the day before or two days before. And we had another one on the books for that week. So it wasn’t like I wasn’t going to see you for a week, or you weren’t going to get back in the gym. It was just, in the moment, sometimes that makes sense.

You talk personality assessments. You talk mental health, that tags along with the physical health aspect of things. And I’m 100% on board with both of those. And that’s where I think I kind of reeled you in a bit.

2. Nick’s four pillars [14:06]

Liz Wolfe: Yes. Let’s talk about that.

Nick Briney: Yeah, of course. So, you can kind of kick it off with your perception of it, and then I’ll walk you through the overview on how I kind of map things out, if that’s cool.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, absolutely. So when I first walked in, I don’t think you even started talking about the fitness or exercise part of what you do. I think you started out with; was it a pyramid or a hierarchy?

Nick Briney: No. So I had 4 pillars. And so we’ll dive right into that, then. I think, and I really do believe, and I’ve seen a ton of success with this, personally, with other clients, trainers, fitness professionals, and we really try to frame up our work around a couple of different components. Understanding that really what training is is stress management in the long scheme of things. And how well am I going to manage oxidative or exercise stress versus life stress or emotional stress or work stress.

And the thing that you're probably thinking of, is I may have drawn a very poor image of a teeter-totter with a little triangle in the middle, and one side is life stress and the other side is training stress. And you’ve got to balance them out. In doing that, there’s really a handful of components.

First and foremost, strength training is going to be a foundational thing. I think that no matter what your goals are, if you're in a position where you want to make progress towards performance. Whether that’s trimming down, adding muscle mass, whatever it may be. Or just feeling better, strength training is going to make you get there a little bit quicker. So that’s a big component.

As far as conditioning goes, there are different energy systems that we want to target and we condition, and that was something I kind of mapped out for you and helped you understand the heart rate zone trending side of things.

Liz Wolfe: Which is really interesting, guys. Because it’s not just laying you out on the floor. There are times when Nick has to tell me; hold on for a minute. Let’s get your heart rate back to a certain zone, and then we’ll start pushing again.

Nick Briney: Yeah. And once again, it goes back to most people’s preconceived notion in that for me to get a good workout, I’ve got to run myself into the ground. And that’s where that heart rate piece comes back in, and tying back into even personality types. I’ve worked with a ton of different styles of clients or types of people, and you are inevitably going to have people that you have to pump the brakes with. And sometimes it’s you; it’s like, hey I know you want to work hard here. But, our focus is to actually stay down in this zone to get this out of it. Then you have other clients where you're like; come on. You need to get into zone 3. Let’s push it a little bit harder.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Nick Briney: And that’s the value in that. It adds a layer of science. Honestly, that is the number one reason that I decided Lifetime was the right direction for me, was the science behind what we do. And that really opened up the door for me, to be able to feel like I have more tools to get people results, at the end of the day, anything science based is going to be a better direction to go. So that was something that I felt like really is a big piece I wanted to talk to you about.

The last couple of things; one was daily movement and recovery and stress management. Which I kind of alluded to. But the first thing we did, we talked a lot of mobility, and that was kind of day one. And one thing I didn’t touch on, because I knew who you were. It’s funny, because Sarah, who had gotten you signed up for your membership was like; yeah, this gal is a very big influence in the nutrition and health industry. She’s got a blog, she’s got a podcast. I’m like; I’ve got to look at what’s going on here.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Nick Briney: And I think I looked you up on Instagram or something. So I was like; I can’t talk to her about nutrition. At least not until I get a relationship built with her. Because I don’t want you to be like; well no, actually.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Nick Briney: I was talking to the same person that said that strong opinion about the Jillian Michaels comment. So I kind of tiptoed around nutrition at first. But even then, it’s funny because you know way more than I do when it comes to the details and the nutrition side of things. But we still about it, because it’s valuable for you to have accountability around it, too.

Liz Wolfe: Yep.

Nick Briney: That’s definitely important for us to add in. Even though you have the expertise there, the accountability piece of it is huge.

Liz Wolfe: Well, and also realizing and like I said, I came in with a little bit of humility and I think that my humility has grown a little bit since doing more of this work. But also learning that I know nutrition for a certain subset of people. And I’m not an expert in sports nutrition any more than I’m an expert in keto. So it’s been very helpful to mind some of your expertise on recovery, and how you eat, and what’s been really important for you. Not only so I can learn and maybe apply it to the athletes that send questions into the podcast, but also for myself. I’ve started to move some more pieces around.

3. Liz’s goals starting out [18:57]

Liz Wolfe: Here’s another thing that I want to say. Let’s talk about, in a moment, the goals that I came in with. Folks that follow me on Instagram may have seen a post I put up there that basically said my only goal in starting was consistency. And it’s taken us months to really get to a point where I’m starting to move other little pieces around. Maybe change a few things about nutrition. Or, I don’t know. Other things like that.

So whenever you're ready, or whenever it’s a good time, let’s make sure we talk about the goals that I came in with, and what we did.

Nick Briney: Yeah, of course. And I think with the fact that you came in with something so set in your mind that; when I asked, hey what are you looking to accomplish today? What do you want to get out of our time together? You had really mentioned two or three different times, whether you realized it or not, in the moment I asked you the same question in several different ways to try to see if I could validate what your actual why of being there was. And what you were going to be motivated by or what you were really focused on.

I’m super interested and intrigued by just human behavior and questions and the mentality side of things. So, that’s a really heavy part of the first couple of hours I spend with anyone. Just trying to get an idea of where your mindset is at. You were locked in 100% on just making it to the gym two days a week. And while in the back of my head I thought; for me to really show you legitimate results, you’re going to have to workout more than twice a week. But, I knew that if I could get you to trust me with those two days, see what those two days would do for you. Not around you watching a scale. Not around you focusing on anything more objective. But looking at; can I get my neck and my shoulders and my back to feel better. Because I know you were having some aches and pains then.

But also, slowly start to look and feel like an athlete. And as we talked more and more, I could tell there was a confidence opportunity. And that’s really what our first foundational phase was. One, getting you to understand how your body moves. We talk a lot about cognitive phases of learning, or cognitive phases of training progressions. And that first part is one building confidence in your ability to move, and understand what you're doing, why you're doing it. How it’s supposed to feel. But also the mental aspect of getting your head wrapped around, putting a lot of work into something because unfortunately results don’t come super easy. But that foundation of consistency is something that we really focus on. Knowing that if I could get you to really wrap your head around it, and start to see some of the positive things that come out of it, then I knew that long-term we could get you bought into adding more volume and making more adjustments. Kind of like we have all the way up to this point now.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. And for the most part, I feel like this is, number one, part of finding a good trainer. To look for somebody that asks all of those questions and is talking to you about not just what they can do workout wise, but what your stress levels are. Lifestyle stress, and exercise stress, and all these different things that are going to work into you being healthier and more capable. So that’s really important. I think we’ll talk more about that.

But for me, I feel like you really responded appropriately to what I was mentally capable of wrapping my head around in the moment. And then I feel like over time, I’ve started asking you the questions that you were waiting for. Like, I remember asking you; ok, after coming two times a week for a while, I remember asking you, how many times a week do we really need to meet for me to see strength progress and progress in my health. And you said at least three times a week.

Nick Briney: Yeah, and it was great. Because you were right; you were spot on. I was like; ok, let’s see how long this is going to take for me to get her head wrapped around the fact that two days is really; it’s not bad, don’t get me wrong. And if you're someone else out there, and that’s all you can, it’s a great start.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. That’s where I started!

Nick Briney: Yeah, exactly. And once you got to that point, you asked me that question, I was like, alright. We’re going to see some serious progress. Because I knew that you had wrapped your head around the long run. And you weren’t fixated on these short-term goals, or unrealistic expectations of what I could provide for you.

That’s another thing I know you’re a big supporter of helping people understand the long-haul of health. And that there is really no quick fix when you want legitimately sustainable results. And you wrapped your head around it, we took it one step at a time, and now I see you three or four times a week. And we’re making all kinds of adjustments. Even when we’re not expecting to, because you're asking the right questions.

And I do think you’ve talked about picking out a good fitness professional or a good trainer. There’s an art to it, on my end of it. One, I have to be a great listener. Because if I go into it with the idea that I want you to do a certain thing, there’s a really good chance that we’re not going to align. But if I can go into it with an open mind and think; I’m really just going to lay out opportunities for me to be able to support whoever this person in front of me is. And if that means it’s one time a week, two times a week, only seeing them once every month. Obviously, the more frequency the more I’m able to help someone. But you’ve got to go into it from a trainer’s mindset, that I can’t force anything on you because this is your journey, not mine. I’m just here to support you.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm. And that’s been really huge. One of the things that I’ve learned, also, is that as a client I need to be very detailed and honest with you about how I’m feeling. I think I came in feeling like every day I came in you would ask me how do you feel, and I would be like; good. Ready to go. Almost like it wasn’t a real question and I had an answer I was supposed to give. But pretty much every time I come in and you ask me how I’m feeling, I’ll give you some kind of details, just in case it’s relevant. And I’m going to use the wrong terms. But you will, at the beginning, give me some different maybe mobility stuff. Some different exercises where you can watch how I’m moving to see what I mean.

So I told you the other day that I felt rickety. {laughs} How did you approach that?

Nick Briney: And it actually really works. When it comes to my training style, we go back to the idea around managing stress. And that’s not just weekly, that’s daily. And even hourly, when you get into meditation and breathing and learning how to recognize stress in your body. And I think when you come in, whether it seems like it’s relevant or not, it’s helped me so much more than I’ve even realized myself to be able to make sure I’m giving you what you need that day, that hour.

And when we talked about this a couple of weeks ago, I had learned probably back, within the first year I started training, 5 or 6 years ago. I had read up on some silly article, or some health or fitness influence talking about what good trainers do. And you have to find a good line between being flexible with your programming, but also having a plan. And that’s been something that I really tried to make a staple when I work with anyone is that I have a really good idea of what I want you to do in your next workout. And the way that we periodize your training, or we map out your different workouts, I’ve got a good idea of what you need to do next based on just adding in movement that we know we want to hit or different planes of motion or whatever it may be that’s going to help you achieve those goals you talked about.

When you give me that little piece of feedback, or that context, it helps me make that decision on whether or not; hey, we may have been planning to squat heavier today, or to do a really high intensity conditioning workout. But if you're feeling rickety, or you're feeling run down, or like your joints feel sticky. Those are some of the things you’ve told me; and I just listen. That’s all it was. I listened to what you said.

And before every workout, I do a series of anywhere from 6 to maybe 8 exercises that are all movement focused, and it’s really quality movement exercises. Any type of lunges, any type of core or shoulder stability stuff. And with that, it gives me a better idea to understand; oh, that’s what you mean by rickety. Your joints; you feel out of whack today. You don’t feel like you're in alignment. Or run down; I can see, you look like you don’t have as much energy as you need today to really go through what I had planned on you doing. And I have to be flexible and on the spot we switch it up. Usually find the right direction to go.

4. Small victories for the long term goal [28:07]

Liz Wolfe: One thing that was really interesting to me is when I went on vacation at the end of July. It was just a three-day vacation to San Diego. We relaxed. We ate a ton of food. And when I came back, I got really frustrated after probably a week or so. I was like; I just feel like I’ve been in a funk since I got back. And one of the things you told me was that it takes 10 workouts from the time you get back from vacation.

Nick Briney: Yep. I heard this on a separate podcast. I believe it was a Ben Bergeron podcast. And he talked about really looking at getting people started and wrapping our head around the mental side of the first few weeks of getting back into a training program. And you put in a hell of a lot of work, but don’t always see a whole lot in response. And it can get very, very frustrating, to your point.

The focus is on the long game. So what you do today is really not going to be the biggest difference maker. It’s what you do every week over the course of a three-month period where you really start to see success. So how do you get back on track? You’ve got to build up a set of workouts that you’ve got put in the books, and you can say; good. I did my work today. I’ll go back to day two tomorrow. Back on track. Once I get about three or four weeks in, which usually for most people, if they’re working out three to four times a week, it looks like around 10 workouts. That’s about the point where your body starts to adapt.

And there’s plenty of science behind that that I won’t bore you with around how your body will adapt from a cardiovascular or strength standpoint after time off. So there’s validation to why it’s that way. There are a lot of scientific things you could dive into around training adaptation and different styles of adaptations. But in the grand scheme of things, most of it that I talk to you about is how to wrap your head around it. Because that’s the biggest barrier people have.

Liz Wolfe: It was pretty funny because one day, maybe in August. The vacation was in July. One day in August, I came up to you and I was like, I’m actually feeling good. I feel like I’ve got my mojo back. And we went, and we looked at how many workouts it had been. And it had been exactly 10. This was my 11th workout since we got back from vacation. And I was like; good lord. He’s always right.

Nick Briney: No, I wouldn’t say that too much. Don’t let Brenda hear that either.

Liz Wolfe: Well it does help build trust. When you say something, and that’s what happens. So over time, there are going to be those small ways that you build trust with your trainer, and that really helps inform the relationship. And also keep the client coming back, right? There have been a ton of those moments where I’ve just been like; alright. This is legit. He explained that to me, and I appreciated it. I understand how my body is moving better. And then the small wins. Like the deadlift PR that I had a couple of weeks ago. And the squat. Even with my neck and shoulder and back pain free.

Nick Briney: Yeah, it’s a series of progressions. And you’ve got to find small wins and small victories and as many opportunities as you can. Because to your point, it’s a confidence builder. And we went back a week or two ago, and looked at your very first set of workouts. That’s something that I love to do with people. It’s like; ok, let’s run this back and let me show you. Maybe even on a day where you're mentally frustrated or you can’t string together some double unders.

I know that day was frustrating for you, when the first time I asked you to do that unbroken and put it into conditioning versus a skill focus. I was like; look, this is a journey. And every day is going to be a challenge. You're not going to be successful every day. But when we can point out those little victories, and every opportunity, and really just be aware of where they’re at and bring them to light. It makes you feel better, and it makes you feel like you're ready to come back in and put in work tomorrow or the next day. Because you know that long-term, you're seeing that progress. And seeing progress, and measuring it in a variety of ways is so important. Because that’s the way we built your confidence. Was pain free in your neck. That’s step number one for anyone.

You come in and see me, and you have any aches or pains at all, my 100% focus to get you to live life pain free. It’s too short for us to walk around feeling like crap all the time. And so I feel like quality of life is a really, really strong foundation of any training program. No matter what your goals are, you need to make sure your quality is there, and that’s pain free.

From there, it’s like; ok, how do you want to measure it? We talked a little bit about this, too. So I’ll kind of dive in here around goal setting. I’d asked you, which I feel like more people know it than actually do. But what the SMART goal acronym was; you're looking for something specific, measurable; the A a lot of people will change up, but I like to call it attractive. Kind of that why; that emotional connection to the goal. Then realistic and timely.

So the first thing I’m asking you is, when you talked about wanting to be consistent, how do we measure that? What does that look like? And you had said 2 days a week. And that’s not anything more aesthetically focused. It’s literally focused on something that I can measure that shows progress.

Then from there it was like, why do you want to do it? I want to look and feel like an athlete. I want to become mentally and physically stronger. Great, so there’s your attainable, or attractive piece of it.

Lucky for me, I didn’t have a pressing timeline for you, and you had your head wrapped around the idea that this is going to take some time and you were going to put in whatever work it needs to get to that point. So the last piece would be giving me a time frame, letting me know whether you think that’s realistic, and then me either saying hey I agree with you, or challenging you to say I don’t know if we can do it in that time frame. And being real about it.

Just to kind of get off on a side note here, if you're a trainer that’s listening to this, be real with people and what results you can give them in a certain timeframe. Because it makes you a better professional. And any time I’ve ever had someone that comes in that has an unrealistic goal, no matter how much of a relationship I have with them, I have to bring them back to reality. And they may not like it in the moment, but I’m doing something better for them in the long haul to help their mentality around not getting so frustrated if they do get to a point they expect to see a result. But in the long haul, it was never actually realistic in the first place.

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5. Setting yourself up for success [35:15]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. And for me, that goal of coming in two times a week was really; every other goal I think I had set in my life around fitness, probably had a 30-day timeframe on it. And I don’t think that 30-day or 60-day challenges are necessarily a bad thing, depending on your personality type. But I also feel like something in me had recognized. And maybe I couldn’t articulate it in the moment. But recognized that I was not coming in to focus only on how I looked or having some kind of kick start. I was coming in to try and figure out, to negotiate for myself how I was going to make this a long-term thing. And I knew it had to be that way for me to be mentally healthy, and for me to be healthy for my kid and my family. That I needed to look beyond the 30 days. Or whatever it is.

I think I kind of lowered my expectations for myself in saying two times a week. That, I think, feels like I could do it indefinitely. I could commit to that. And we did that. And I slowly started wanting a little bit more, and being open to a little bit more. And you would sort of plug into that. And we’ve gone from there. I just do think it’s really important that folks set the most realistic goal; the most attainable thing, like we’ve talked about, to get them showing up and to build confidence. And then you can build from there.

I think a lot of times, when people jump on these, “I have to lose X percent body fat in 30 days.” Or, “I have to completely transform who I am as a human being in four weeks.” That’s really when you're giving yourself a really high level of risk for failure. And then really degrading your confidence, and that’s not what we want.

Nick Briney: Yeah, for sure. And once again, I think it’s crucial to understand the mental side of it, too. And how much, when you talk about setting yourself up for failure with maybe a little bit more aggressive goal, or a little less unrealistic goal, how much that’s going to hurt you long term. I used to have a guy that was our old training manager, when I was earlier in my career at Lifetime. And he had mentioned a stat on a regular basis, not sure where he got it. But it always resonated with me. He had mentioned that the average person tries to lose weight four times a year. So basically quarterly. And their successful usually around 0% of the time. Which is why they continue to keep trying.

Most of the people that get caught up in that horrible cycle of; I’m going to try it. I’m going to go hard. I’m going to change everything. And then they fail; it makes it so much harder for that next time to even buy in completely. And it can be a vicious cycle. So I think that’s why; I’m ok with starting people super easy and easing you into it. Because it’s about the long game. And I really can’t say that side of it enough.

6. Phases of learning and training [38:16]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. So one of the things I want to talk about is this concept of there being phases of learning and training. That was a really, really cool lesson for me to learn from you, about how; again, we weren’t just going to get really tired and lift heavy weights and go home. There was a process of almost training my brain around some of the movements. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Nick Briney: Yeah, of course. There are different series of adaptations. There’s a specific timeline that you could look at. Maybe not super specific, because everyone is a little bit different. But general timelines that you could look at as far as how much progress you should see. A lot of this varies on how often someone is committed. Obviously, the more you do it, the faster you’ll progress. But the first thing you have to understand is learning how your body moves in space, and understanding how to feel the difference between necessary training aches, or soreness, versus sharp pains or anything that we don’t want to have happen.

I think I even told you a story about a husband and wife that I worked with a long time ago, and they were coming from a completely untrained background. No history in exercise or fitness. And we went through some pretty standard assessments, and they called me the next day, and they were like; no way can I go through this. I’m in so much pain. And when I talked through it with them, it was not actually pain, it was just muscle soreness.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Nick Briney: If you don’t know that, you don’t know it. I think that’s something you’ve got to teach people initially is; what can I expect to feel. What can I expect to think? What should my timeline be like? And the first really, I don’t know, it was probably a month for us. I was trying to focus on getting you to understand how your body moved. And you had come to me with something that’s a little less common. And most times people are either going to be hyper mobile, or they’re going to need mobility.

So basically I’m looking at; do you have these large ranges of motion? If you have the range of motion, are you stable at the end ranges? Can you control it very well? Or do you come in and you're super stiff? And I think it’s more common to see people that come in that are really tight with today’s society. There’s not a lot of movement that’s condoned through desk jobs and the sedentary lifestyles.

For you, it was actually opposite, which we don’t see as much. Where you come in, and you’ve done CrossFit in the past. You’ve done yoga in the past. And you had these crazy large ranges of motion, but you didn’t have the ability to control all of that range of motion. You were really in a position where I had to teach you how to stabilize more so and kind of confusing in different places. We talked a lot about pelvic stability with you initially.

And I think between the yoga background, potentially some of the CrossFit stuff. And it’s not a bad thing, but that and even having a kid, there’s other countries that do pelvic floor rehab and core stability and training after women have kids, after their pregnancies. That’s not something that’s super common in the United States. So any time I get to start training with someone, I know you’ve had kids, and you haven’t been trained in that time between when you’ve had the kid and when you're seeing me. We have to start with some super basic stuff.

So a lot of that was pelvic stability, core awareness, body awareness, joint mobility and awareness. I taught you the car series, which is basically how to mobilize each joint and isolate mobility to a specific joint. And that was a great thing to start with with anyone, if you're familiar with some of those movements.

Liz Wolfe: I hate them, but they’re so good.

Nick Briney: Yeah. They’re kind of boring. They’re way harder than you’d think they would be if you do them right. But it’s a way to isolate a particular joint, and make sure that the range of motion of that joint is actually doing what it’s supposed to. The guy who had come up with the functioning range conditioning principles that I’m talking about, when I went to that seminar, he said I want your shoulder to move like a shoulder. I want your hip to move like a hip. And it sounds funny, but it’s so true. Because our bodies compensate on our lifestyle.

So, that was step number one. That mental awareness, body awareness, mobility/stability phase. And once you're there, it’s around locking in movement patterns for me. We talked a lot about how to help you perfect your squat form. You were able to go all the way; into a super deep squat, but you had that pelvic tilt happen at the bottom. So there was no stability. And we talked a lot about how to set your hips, set your core, keep your posture, make sure you're breathing properly. And they’re all things that are not that sexy, Jillian Michaels style that we talked about.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Nick Briney: But it’s foundational stuff. And if you don’t have that there, and you skip it, which a lot of people don’t. They don’t do all that stuff, or they do skip it when they get started. It sets you up for failure long-term. You don’t have that base of quality movement. And understand of what everything is supposed to feel like. Because a large part of training is understanding your body and knowing when to make adaptations, whether you're working with someone or not. So that’s phase one. I know a little long winded.

But from there, the next bits to me aren’t as challenging, depending on what your specific goal you're targeting is. And for you, it was being a well-rounded athlete. So we’ve gone with more non-linear periodization, where I got you really good within those movement patterns. We slowly built up strength there, and did more, I guess initially we did more of a linear progression. Where it’s like; let’s focus on muscular endurance. Let’s get you a little bit more muscle built in certain areas to support these movements. Let’s see how strong you are in some of these patterns.

Now that we’ve been training for over 3-6 months, which is what it usually takes to get people to the point that you get to where it’s non-linear. At that point, I can start to say; today is going to more of a power day. Tomorrow is going to be more of an endurance day. We’re going to work on speed and agility on this day. And mix it up so that you really are truly well rounded. Because that’s something I think no matter what your sport is, no matter what your goal is, if it’s literally just being able to function better to play with your kids, you should be well rounded. And it’s important for you to have the ability to output, or put power out, or have a base level of strength or certain range of motion or flexibility.

So, I know it’s a little long winded, and kind of hard to track. But that’s where using a professional comes in.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah; and you know what’s been really cool for me, is that not only have I built a lot of confidence in myself, and what I’m capable of doing. I’ve really done things that have made me proud of myself. Just for showing up. That’s a big win for me, to even figure out how to get out of the house, what to do with my kid while I was doing it. And by the way, Lifetime Fitness has childcare, which is great. I don’t love to use it during the winter, just because of germs. You know.

Nick Briney: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: I’m a little neurotic like that.

Nick Briney: I don’t blame you. You’ve got to think about the environment you're in, too. And this is not me boasting; we really are one of the cleanest gyms that you’ll run into. Even then, there is so much traffic that comes in and out of it.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Nick Briney: You’ve got to keep immune systems high, and with kids I could totally understand why you’d be that way.

Liz Wolfe: I mean, it’s one of those things where you pick up something, and then you're out for two weeks because your kid is sick for two weeks. We kind of weigh that. But I think one of the really cool things about the way you train is that you are extremely well rounded. And you are able to kind of take information and knowledge from a lot of different places. Not even just in the training exercise and movement realm, but also in stress and mentality; mindset. You talk about mindset all the time.

And you bring that all together, and are able to translate it for people like me, who really need someone in a position of trust that I can come in every day and know that you’ve got my back. You know what we need to do, and you're going to program it appropriately. So I can just go in and give up that control and not feel like I have to know everything before I even start. And that can be, I think, where people get really overwhelmed. They almost feel like they have to be in shape before they can even go to the gym in the first place.

Nick Briney: Yeah. I’ve heard that so many times. Someone comes in, and we offer a complimentary session to anybody that joins, or even people that are interested in joining. A lot of people come in, and they’re like; I want to get in better shape before I meet with a trainer. I’m like; what? Wait a second. But I get it. It’s a bit of a fear thing, if anything.

It goes back to that preconceived notion that if you think you need to be in better shape before you see me, then you don’t have a really good understanding of what I do. My goal is to help you get into that base level of shape so you don’t need me. And if you want to keep training with me, because I can add value to what you do, and it does take stress out of your life. Then great, I’ll train you forever.

But that’s, I think great trainers don’t want to lock you into something long-term. They want to give you value. The only time I would ever recommend someone stick with me is just for the first 12 to 16 weeks. Because it’s going to take me time to get you where you're pleased. But when it comes to anything longer than 3 or 4 months; there are so many opportunities for people to get involved, like you said, in group training or in other areas. Maybe decrease frequency.

But when it comes to your position, you hit the nail on the head. You don’t have to put any effort into this, as far as thinking about what you need to do, when you need to do it, how you need to do it. You set an appointment, you put all the trust in my hands. And thankfully, I’ve built the value in what I can provide for you, and you trust that when you show up I’m going to take care of you.

Liz Wolfe: Yep. That’s been really huge, to be able to kind of give up that control. And, for me personally, there have been several times I’ve said to myself over the last; now that it’s winter, specifically, I think particularly because of that. But I’ve been like; if I didn’t have that appointment on the books, I would not go. I would find some reason that I was too tired, or I needed to work, or it was so cold. Whatever. I wouldn’t show up.

So for me personally, and this is something that I really recommend to people. Know yourself well enough to know what type of framework you need to set up for yourself that you're going to be accountable and continue to go. So, maybe that’s signing up for a group class, and you’ll commit and you’ll show up. Maybe that’s having a workout buddy that’s going to help you commit and you’ll show up. For me, it just happens to be this is what I need right now. And I’m making a ton of progress and enjoying it.

I also really enjoy, since I’m a nerd, the fact that you will explain things to me; why we’re doing something and how it’s working in the body. That whole cognitive phase thing that you explained to me blew my mind. So that’s been really helpful to me, as well.

Nick Briney: Yeah, it’s a learning process. You know that it’s just through working with me, it’s something I’m super passionate about. And I really believe that for you to be successful in the many hours that you spend outside of the gym, that you have to be armed with the way that I think and the way that I operate so that you can almost have this little internal voice to think; what would Nick tell me to do in this situation? Because you work with me on a pretty regular basis, usually three or four times a week.

And I always talk about the 168-hour rule. And I picked this up from another colleague of mine a few years back. There are 168, 58? Somewhere in there; you get the point. Hours per week. And regardless of that, you get 4 hours of me. So I have to make a huge influence on you for you to go outside of the four walls of where we meet and train and actually follow through on the homework that I give you. Or the suggestions I make to help you live that healthier lifestyle that supports it.

Luckily, you come from a background of it being something you're passionate about, so I think that’s been a huge part of your success, as well, that it is something that you want to learn about. Your health is huge. It’s crucial. And it’s something that everybody should learn more about, because there is so much contraindicated information out there. And it’s so easy to find something around health and fitness. And not all of it is really preaching the long-term mental approach, and the same thing that we talk about.

So really getting an idea of how I can make an impact on you outside of our time together, for me it’s give you as much information as I possibly can in an hour. As long as you're absorbing it, and as long as you're still interested in it, I’m going to tell you everything I can.

7. Exercise for mental health [51:20]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. And that always really helps me. The other thing I wanted to really be specific about; and you can go back. If anybody wants to go to my Instagram profile, and you go back, not that far because I don’t post often enough. But there’s one of me talking about why I started training and what my goals were and how they were very simple. But what’s been huge for me is my mental health has improved so much by A) going to the therapist. And Nick knows I go to the therapist, I talk about it often. And also getting to the gym and working out there. It’s been so, so huge for my mental health.

And I think when you are really attacking your mental health, and really working to make positive changes, you have to have the movement component in there somewhere. And doing so also helps you build confidence. Because that’s a mental thing, right? The more you're taking care of your mental health, the more momentum you get.

Nick Briney: Yep. And there’s a hormonal response, or a neurological response to that. When you start to look at the different hormones that are released when you have a great workout, the effects of dopamine, I’m sure you are very well aware of, or oxytocin when you get a hit of that success feeling. Or even the cortisol that you have on the days where you’re stressed and you come in and we have to bring that down.

There is so much that goes into it on the hormonal side, and the physiological side of things that play into that mental health aspect of things. Any therapist you go to that’s going to help you through any of your emotional challenges or whatever you're going to see a therapist for. They’re going to condone you doing some style of exercise, as well. You're not the only client that I’ve worked with that sees a therapist on a regular basis, and you don’t have to have anything that forces you to go see someone to talk you through your thoughts, your emotions, just the way that you operate and the way that you think. It’s really proactive health care.

Mental health is such an epidemic, and I think the more we can tie that mental and physical aspect together, you’ll see so many more healthier, happier people. And that’s honestly my passion, my goal. To impact people and help them understand; hey, these things tie together. I’m my best when I’m training at my hardest. Or I’m training most consistently. And that’s in every facet of my life.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

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Liz Wolfe: So is there anything we wanted to talk about that I missed?

Nick Briney: I really don’t think so. I think you hit the nail on the head with everything. It’s really just looking back at your story, and how I’ve been able to help support and giving people advice on things that we feel like were helpful for you, or maybe just giving more insight to my approach and why I do things a certain way. But there’s not anything that I really had wrapped around chatting about that we didn’t organically go over.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, I think we hit pretty much everything we wanted to talk about. I really can’t thank you enough for coming on the show. And also everything that you’ve done for me over the last 8 or 9 months. I cannot believe I have been consistently working out for 9 months. That’s crazy. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before in my life. Something always seems to get in the way. And I just feel; I want people to discover whatever it is that’s going to keep them accountable and keep them showing up. Hopefully we’ve been able to help folks a little bit.

Nick Briney: Yeh, of course. Thank you for your time, your consistency, your mentality, your ability to follow through on what I give you. You’ve listened to everything I’ve recommended for you to do, so that’s been a huge part of your success. As much as I’ve been able to help, it takes you actually being intentional about your actions and following through with what you know you need to do, so all the hard work is coming from your direction. Thanks again for the opportunity. Thank you to your partner, Diane, and really you as well for the opportunity to get a little bit more exposure, and a chance to help more people out. Get my voice heard so I can hopefully make the same impact on other people.

Liz Wolfe: Absolutely. Alright, tell folks the best place to find you. Would that be Instagram?

Nick Briney: Yeah, for sure. It’s Nick_Briney. She’ll have it spelled out, I’m sure, in the bio here. But just first underscore last name. And that’s probably the easiest way to track me down. I try to stay pretty active. It’s definitely been something that you’ve inspired me to do more of. I know that’s something we didn’t talk a lot about, but I hadn’t been super proactive on social media until we had started training, and having seen the impact that you can make and the people you can help with that. I had no idea the opportunity that lied behind Instagram. So I’m still building up with some more consistent content, but it’s something I’ve definitely stayed attuned to, and really have a lot of plans to keep working on. So check me out there.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. And if you're also watching my Instagram stories, I work with Nick. You’ll see him in my Instagram stories tagged in there at least three times a week. So you can go in there, check out what he’s having me do. And tap on his name and check out his Instagram feed, as well. Thanks again, Nick.

Nick Briney: Yeah, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Liz Wolfe: That’s it for this week then. You can find me, Liz, at Diane at You can look for Nick Briney at Nick_Briney on Instagram. Join our email lists for free goodies and updates that you don’t find anywhere else on our website or on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, leave us an iTunes review. See you next week.

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