Before starting a training session, animal professionals like to make sure EVERYTHING is perfect, or as close to it, to ensure as successful a training session as possible. Things trainers think about are removing distracting toys or objects from the area, getting all the equipment necessary for the session, and going over the plan.
When working with dolphins, trainers may remove enrichment toys before a session to eliminate distractions. A bird trainer may look around and make sure there are no flocks of wild crows around to distract their eagle before letting it loose to fly its programmed route. Hoof stock keepers may raise or remove hay barrels out of reach before working with giraffe, zebra, rhino, or elephant.
These little distractions may not seem like much, but they are a BIG DEAL to the animals. When setting animals up for success, it’s not just the animal we need to think about. It’s the environment and surroundings. Distractions come in many shapes and sizes. It can be a toy, or something brand new in the pool, barn, or flight route. Another animal can distract or worse, annoy and harass the one being trained.
If you lose the attention of the animal, it might be better to try the session later altogether.
The same can be said for our fitness. How many times have you ever decided to workout, but someone called or texted? Within minutes, your plan to exercise goes out the window.
My workout time is sacred to me. When it’s time to exercise, I turn off my alerts. I don’t answer my phone, no matter who is calling. They can leave a message if it’s important. It may seem like a little thing, but removing distractions like your phone and other media can make a huge difference in making fitness your priority, at least during your fitness time.
Let Your Family Set You Up For Success
While I don’t have kids myself, I recognize having children in your life can be a huge distraction from working out when you plan. This isn’t a foolproof method, but one way to help is to give your children a job for your workout. Have your kids remind you it’s time to exercise, and to “not let mommy or daddy NOT workout”. They will love that responsibility.
If you have the ability, let your kids choose which workout you are going to do. In my Exercise Guide, I offer my Conservation Hero WODs. Let your children choose one of the heroes to do for your workout. If they are old enough, let them do the workout with you. Teach them the movements, and then make it their job to keep track of the number of reps.
Let your entire family know that exercise time is just as important as work time. You are not to be bothered or interrupted unless the house is on fire, and even then, only if it’s going to hinder your workout.
Your Pre-Session Set-up
Before starting a training session, animal professionals want to ensure they have EVERYTHING they need. The last thing you want to do is situate the lion for a blood draw, and not have the syringe or needle ready. Or doing massage/warm-water therapy on an elephant, and the water not be warm.
Trainers often learn this lesson due to an incident where they missed the opportunity to perform a behavior with the animal due to lack of preparation. It’s not a lesson they tend to forget.
Setting ourselves up for success with our fitness doesn’t have to be a hard lesson. Prepare for your workout ahead of time by packing your gym bag before you will need it. Trying to remember all your belongings is a bit of a time suck. And if you forget something, it wastes more time. It’s one of the greatest excuses, but it doesn’t help us in our quest to be the best version of ourselves.
At the height of my fitness, I was riding my bike to work (about 8 miles each way), working my full 8 hours as a very active zookeeper, riding my bike back to the gym, working out for an hour or two, and then heading home. For a day full of activities, I needed to prepare ahead of time. The night before, I packed my bike bag with healthy snacks, my water bottle filled, and a change of clothes for working out after my bike ride. That way, all I had to do in the morning was wake up, grab my bag, and head out the door.
You don’t have to be as active as I was to truly benefit from a packed bag. Nowadays, in the summer, my husband and I have a pre-packed workout bag which lives beside the front door. When it’s time to workout, rather than floundering all over to make sure we have everything we need, we grab the bag and head to our favorite park.
Another time suck is deciding what to do for your workout. Now, if you belong to a gym, and have a favorite class you attend, this dilemma is solved for you. You just do what the instructor tells you to. But, if you are like me, and you design 75-90% of your workouts, this can become quite the issue. It’s like having a full wardrobe of fabulous clothes and saying “I have nothing to wear.”
To solve this issue, I practice setting up a slew of different workouts. Some are games, some are Conservation Hero WODs, some are just quick and easy mini-workouts. When it’s exercise and fitness time, I draw a random card I have written up with workouts, and that is our daily routine. No questions, no complaints, no hassle. We let fate decide.
Pre-Fuel Your Fitness
I usually talk about meal prep when I’m discussing Eating Green, but it is incredibly helpful for setting ourselves up for success in fitness as well. It makes sense. Trainers do the same thing for their animals. A raptor keeper doesn’t wait until the raptor has flown to their glove to break apart the animal’s food into smaller chunks. They prepare the food ahead of time. Elephant and other herbivore animal trainers cut up produce before starting their training session. Dolphin trainers have their fish buckets prepared ahead of time.
So, why not have your meals prepared ahead of time, to save you some precious minutes before your fitness?
If you workout in the morning (or at least WANT to workout in the morning), having your breakfast already prepared for you is the absolute BEST way to kickstart your day in a healthy way.
I have several fantastic meal prepping snacks, breakfasts, and lunches to prepare ahead of time to make fueling your workout a priority and a pleasure.
Check them out: