Daniel Mathews

by | Dec 14, 2022

What was your fitness life like before you started working with Harris?

Before working with Harris, I was a veteran of group fitness classes and various seasonal athletic hobbies. I depended on both of those to stay in shape but each had drawbacks that left me slipping for long periods and falling out of shape at least once in a given year.

My goal was to have consistently high-quality fitness and the problems I needed to solve for were

1) how to access that level of fitness year-round

2) what could fit into my schedule as opposed to me trying to finagle my life around spin and HIIT class schedules?

The obvious answer was that I needed to go to a traditional gym, a prospect that filled me with dread and bored me silly in equal measure. I decided to confront those concerns and go ahead, knowing I would have challenges to work through.

When I joined a gym, new sets of problems presented:

  • The place is intimidating. Everyone is in their own zone. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, I must look silly. I didn’t want to get in someone’s way or mess them up. I also felt like whatever I was doing must not be working (because I didn’t know what I was doing). My time in the gym wasn’t fun or rewarding – I didn’t want to come back


If I hadn’t sunk gobs of money into a 10-pack of training sessions, my adventures at the gym would have been over after my second or third week. I wasn’t gaining any confidence.

I couldn’t really tell what I was doing right or wrong. My (first) trainer had me jumping from exercise to exercise without explaining what we were trying to accomplish, or where those exercises fit into the bigger picture.  For example, was he teaching me a set of exercises that formed 1 day of a multiple-day workout focusing on different muscle groups? Anyway, he pushed me from one thing to the next until I thought I might throw up and regarded me with barely veiled judgment when I couldn’t keep his pace. He wasn’t a bad guy, just clearly didn’t know what to do with me.

In between sessions with that trainer I was on my own, which was even worse. I didn’t know what exercises to do. I was embarrassed walking around the gym looking like a fish out of water.

If there were too many people on a given day I would get even more self-conscious and stressed out, especially if I had to wait for machines.  If a machine I needed wasn’t open I didn’t really know what else to do.  I wasted a lot of days puttering around just trying to look busy, then finally getting frustrated and leaving before getting in any kind of decent workout.

What problems were you trying to solve when you started coaching with Harris?

Harris – thank goodness I connected with you! Having you in my corner turned everything around for me.

The problems I faced boiled down to a lack of fitness…

1) Knowledge

2) Confidence

3) Motivation.

What knowledge have you gained while working with Harris?

Harris taught me:

  • How to warm-up and prepare for a workout
  • The four fundamental lifting categories that form the basis for all of my workouts
  • What muscle groups to focus on
  • Multiple exercises to vary the routine from day to day
  • Various exercise options between free weights, bodyweight and machines
  • How to rest and recover properly
  • How and when to push myself
  • When not to push myself in order to stay safe from injury
  • The ins and outs of gym equipment that I wouldn’t have ever learned on my own

Harris helped me understand what to do during training and the “why” behind everything.

Understanding the intended outcome of an exercise or a stretch was crucial for me to eventually become independent.

Beyond the general points listed above, Harris’ level of expertise made me confident that I had the right person on my side.

The knowledge in his responses to questions and his explanations of his thoughts and ideas are truly incredible.

How did your confidence improve by working with Harris?

As I got the hang of warming up properly, creating better workouts, using the equipment, and learning the culture of how to share weights and space, it became much less intimidating to come to the gym.

I could do my own thing and not be worried about what other people thought.

I was pretty sure that I no longer looked like a noob.

That made a huge difference in how often I made it into the gym between training sessions with Harris.

How did Harris help you stay motivated?

Staying motivated has always been difficult for me when on my own. I thought that having a trainer would make it easier. Turns out, having the “right” trainer is what matters (as I learned through early missteps).

Harris did an amazing job at keeping me motivated right from the start and every step along the way.

I swear, if I could afford to, I’d want to hire Harris as my full-time, everyday trainer and life coach.

Specifically, Harris paid so much attention to gauging my individual level of fitness and ability – he never had me struggling at something out of my range of capabilities. At the same time, I was constantly challenged.

The balance between these two elements was crucial.

Harris actively took note of my accomplishments and reviewed them with me.

Whether it was a personal record lifting heavier weights or an improvement in my form, his attention to my progress kept me conscious that our work was paying off.

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