What it takes to achieve an epic transformation
Michael Robichaud, the longest serving member of the Free Form Fitness team, has never been a slouch. He wrestled at the national level through high school and college. He’s tackled the grueling Spartan Beast obstacle race. Rock climbing is his definition of a lazy Saturday.
But as a personal trainer who regularly asks clients to commit to major lifestyle changes, he felt the need to do more to lead by example.
“As a trainer, I wasn’t where I thought I should be,” said the 30-year-old.
He also wanted to take some time to put himself first. As someone in the service industry, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of always putting the needs of others before your own. Anyone who trains with Mike would agree that he’s always willing to go above and beyond for his clients.
This fall, over a 12-week period, Mike committed himself to a rigorous new routine of fitness and nutrition to get leaner, add more muscle and rival Stallone’s Rambo physique (the young Rambo, that is).
The pictures speak for themselves. Mike didn’t actually lose weight during his transformation, but he did change his body composition, replacing fat with more lean muscle.
It didn’t come easy. Trainers are human, too. Even they need someone else to keep them accountable. Mike knew from his past experiences that the best way to keep himself on track was to rely on someone else to develop a program for him to follow.
“It was still a learning experience for me,” he said. “If I turn to someone who is smarter than me or has a different outlook, it’s puts more tools in my toolshed for how I train clients.”
What else did it take to achieve his transformation? The same things it takes for anyone to reach their health and fitness goals. Nutrition, exercise and a committed mindset are equally important.
“People often make excuses about why something like this can’t be done,” he said. “Everything has to be dialed in at the same time. You need to see the vision of where you want to be – if you don’t have a visualization of what it looks like and how it feels when you get there, it’s more difficult to achieve it.”
What else did he learn?
You must be happy with the decisions that you make – yes I am going to go to bed early, no I am not going to go out for chicken wings and beer, yes, I am going to stay later at the gym to get that workout in. If you see these decisions as a negative, something that makes you angry or resentful, it’s counterproductive.
And of course, “don’t make excuses for yourself,” he said. That’s why he found it so important to rely on someone else as a coach. In the past whenever he’s tried something like this on his own, he’s always hit a wall around the four-week mark. But the good news is that it won’t take as much sacrifice now for Mike to hold onto the gains he’s made.
And he speaks from years of experience with hundreds of clients when he says the biggest challenge people face is willpower. It certainly was for him during this 12-week transformation. But he stuck with it and cheated only once, for Thanksgiving dinner.
“I think that’s the challenge for a lot of people, the disconnect,” he said. “They are so emotionally invested in a certain thing, in that comfort food, that they can’t give it up. They will pay thousands to get in shape, then sabotage their efforts because they can’t bring themselves to give up that $2 muffin.”