Big Strides and Little Leaps: Progress Comes In Many Degrees

little leaps

As personal trainers, we know the value of exercise. Health improves, stamina builds and strength increases. We live it, push it and profess our claims. Some of us even dream about exercise. We encourage it in our clients and in ourselves. Personal training is a gratifying job when we see effort and results. But not all successes vibrate with the same magnitude, yet can have just as much value when subtle: big strides versus little leaps.

little leaps

Observing can be a powerful tool. At the gym where I work out, I see so many changes in the gym-goers. I watch as other trainers work with clients on balance, strength, and coordination. I see gym rats pushing themselves, resolutioners working to get fit and those with health issues just trying to keep moving. I love to spend time on a piece of cardio equipment to observe while I sweat. 

It’s interesting what you can see when you’re the outsider looking in. Or maybe it’s the insider looking out. 

Today, I noticed a transformation. It wasn’t a morbidly obese person moving more than ever, although I have seen that and it’s quite impressive. It wasn’t the old guy finally balancing on one leg, which is truly awesome. And it wasn’t the cancer patient reclaiming their spot on the elliptical inspiring all of us in his or her path. These are huge strides. I’m talking little leaps.

It was a subtle change I noticed.

Several months ago, perhaps half a year or longer, I noticed a fellow friend and trainer working with a couple. They appeared to be middle-aged and in average condition. I noticed their hesitance, especially the woman’s, when the training sessions began. They work with this trainer two times a week for about 45 minutes at a time from what I can gather from my observations. What started out as serious, focused and gym-timidating sessions judging by their facial expressions has moved to laughs, pushing themselves with determination and looking like, well, like they don’t hate it!

I love it when two people work together and encourage each other. It’s key to success in many clients who lack self-motivation, which is most of them.

So, today’s observance was a middle-aged woman who sauntered into the gym with confidence. She made her way to a treadmill and did a cardio workout for whatever amount of time. Her husband wasn’t at her side and she seemed comfortable exercising alone. Once the cardio workout was complete, she walked to another part of the gym taking her hair out of her ponytail. She had cut her hair from when I had seen her at the beginning. 

She had on stylish leggings and a form-fitting top contrary to the baggy clothes she wore months ago.

Confidence. Progress. A boost in self-esteem. All of that. How cool to witness the subtle transformation in an individual who embraces exercise and fitness after months of learning and practicing?

That’s what regular exercise does. It’s a gain in fitness and attitude. It’s all the good stuff.

The big strides are amazing. But little leaps have significant power too. As trainers, we can’t always look for the significant milestones that are climbed with great difficulty when the little rock skimming across the water is huge in its own way.

CEC Banner (2)


Kim Becknell Williams is a freelance writer with more than ten years of personal training experience. Certified through NFPT, she is a Functional Training Specialist and holds a Master Trainer level certificate for resistance, endurance and sports nutrition. Kim has written two books including Gym Etiquette 101. She enjoys writing a variety of lifestyle articles and fitness blogs.