Skip to content
Join Life Time

Planning, Preparation, and Practice: Why Programs Matter for Progress

With Jamie Martin and David Freeman

Season 6, Episode 6 | January 31, 2023

A month or so into the New Year, it’s common for people to fall off their goals. Often this isn’t for a lack of want or will, but rather not having the right program in place. Life Time Talks cohosts Jamie Martin and David Freeman share how they’re personally approaching their own aspirations this year, explain the reasons why having a program can be a game-changer, and offer considerations to help you move forward on your own plan. 

Jamie Martin and David Freeman are the cohosts of the Life Time Talks podcast. Martin is the vice president of content strategy at Life Time and editor in chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine. Freeman is the director of Alpha at Life Time. 

Everyone’s personal exercise program will look different, but no matter what, it’s important to have realistic expectations around progress: Sustainable health and fitness changes are a long-term play not an immediate result. And often you’ll notice internal improvements — think increased energy, better sleep, and a happier mood — before you see external physical ones. In working with clients, Freeman often likes to set expectations like this: 

  • Think of the first three months as your “foundation” phase. In a well-planned program, you’ll cycle through different phases of intensity and endurance, but your overarching focus is on establishing foundational healthy habits during these initial months. 
  • Approach the next three months as your “transformation” phase. This is not to say you won’t see results in the previous phase, but once you get to this point, your body is starting to adapt to a new stimulus. You might feel yourself getting stronger, your endurance getting better, or your sleep improving, for example — you’re seeing how your body responds to efforts built off the foundation you set.  
  • Consider the following three months as your “mastery” phase. Here, you’re taking everything you’ve learned and done over the past six months and applying it in your daily life without much assistance. You’ll likely still need support — even the best coaches enlist the help of their own coaches — but you may not need as many touchpoints because of the strong groundwork you’ve set. 

More From Life Time

Three people doing a kettlebell squat in a fitness class.

Signature Group Training

Individualized attention. Progressive programming. A supportive community. GTX, Alpha and Ultra Fit are structured workouts led by nationally-certified personal trainers.

View Signature Group Training Options for Members


More Like This

A Dynamic Personal Trainer doing a kettlebell exercise with a client.

Reassessing New Year’s Resolutions

By Emily Ewen

Life Time Dynamic Personal Trainers share their thoughts on New Year’s resolutions — and offer tips for sticking to your healthy-living goals all year long.

Headshots of Jamie Martin and David Freeman placed over an image of a woman gripping a kettlebell.

Reflection and Opportunity: How We’re Approaching Our Well-Being in 2022

With Jamie Martin & David Freeman
Season 4, Episode 15

Many of us set big goals — particularly around our health — each time we enter a new year. But how can we make sure they are sustained and continue to evolve throughout all 365 days? Life Time Talks cohosts Jamie Martin and David Freeman speak to the strategies that work for them and share how they’re personally approaching their well-being this year.

Listen >

Transcript: Planning, Preparation, and Practice: Why Programs Matter for Progress

Season 6, Episode 6  | January 31, 2023

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Life Time Talks. I’m Jamie Martin.

And I’m David Freeman.

And this is one of those episodes where we’re not having a guest. You get the two of us today, which we’re kind of excited about. We’ve only done this one other time. It was, I think, in late 2021. We got together and just kind of wrapped up the year, but also looked ahead to 2022. We’re kind of taking that same approach this time looking ahead to 2023 and where the two of us are at. How are you feeling?

It went by fast. I feel like every time we get towards the end of the year, we talk about how fast time really goes by. And when you take everything into consideration, over these past two to three years, so much has happened. So when we talk about planning and how to go about planning, it’s inevitable. And as we continue to evolve within our craft and what we’re doing in our day to day, you can see how essential planning is.

Yes, days are going to continue to go by. Time is going to continue to fly, but if you’re knowing that you’re making progress based off of a plan that you created, it’s so much more rewarding. So I’m excited to have this conversation.

Yeah, me too. And it’s so interesting. I just had this moment of flashback to this period of my life where I was having kids, right? And I was such a planner. I was like, hey, I’m going to plan how this all goes. From how I was going to approach like the whole childbirth experience, I’m just going to go there right now. And I had this whole plan in place, right.

And it was great, and I needed to have that. But in the end, I ended up switching it to preferences. And so I have preferences for how things could go because things don’t always go as planned. So I think of the plan, but I also think like, these are my preferences within things, and like, if I can lean this way. But then I want to have a choice, right, at different points.

Like, there’s choice points in all of our lives at different phases. And so what does that mean? And I think when it comes to health and being, plans do tend to work better. But we still have to be willing to flex. And say, if I can do it this way, I prefer it this way than that, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Yes, it does. I’ll give you another P word. We got we got preference, we got plan, just preparation, just knowing how to be prepared in a situation. To your point, it’s almost like another P word, practice. We’re doing all these different things, but then when it’s a game day, there’s so many different variables that can come in. So you’re practicing, you’re planning, you’re preparing, and that’s setting you up for success.

Now, is it always going to be an ideal situation? No, but from that experience, you learn and you now know how to approach it the next time it comes around. So having a plan does matter. And within that preference or preparation, that’s where you’re going to start to massage and navigate how to go about things when it’s thrown your way.

Yeah, it kind of becomes like an if this, then that, type of thing as well within it. So you have that. That’s what the practice is in preparation. So what are you doing, or what are you thinking for 2023 for yourself?

I’m glad you asked that. I mean, people say, don’t look too far ahead. And I’m like, I’m on like 2024, 2025 over here. But I mean, I just think big. And I’ve always thought in that mindset of like, what could happen, the potential if you take yourself here and thinking this way? So I think big and to a point that it should scare you a little bit.

And I posted something the other day. It’s almost like you’re trying– we call them haters or whatever it may be, but you’re really just trying to prove yourself right by the end of the day. It’s not even about the individual. They might motivate you in a sense to like, aha, told you so. But it’s really about, I am who I am.

And we use the reference that, I’m so grateful that I have it now, that trust in your dopeness, really being able to tap into what exists within you. So when you ask the question, going back to what you said there, I just want to be consistent within what I have been doing. Not falling short of that, but surrounding myself with other individuals that definitely challenged me to think bigger as well because when you’re constantly in that situation where a lot of people are pulling from you and they’re developing, that’s a rewarding thing.

Seeing somebody change within that space is definitely a rewarding thing. But it’s also about, how am I excelling in my space, and how am I surrounding myself with individuals that challenge me as well? So staying consistent but continuing to evolve mentally, physically, and spiritually.

I love that for you. I mean, it makes total sense. And it still like that’s pushing a little bit farther all the time, right?

Yeah. Yeah. What about you? I got to throw it right back at you, boomerang. Come on.

Yeah, I know. Boomerang right back to me. You know, when I was thinking about this and preparing for this conversation, I went to a lot of the physical health stuff, right? I was thinking about– I feel like I have been really, really consistent over the years with my programming. And as you know, I follow your program in the app and in the Lifetime app and do a lot of those things.

So I’ve been really consistent, but when I was thinking about what haven’t I done as consistently, it’s the sleep side, that’s a thing I’ve been compromising. So I really am focused in 2023 on sleep because knowing how essential that is to our overall being. We’ve done episodes on this already, right?

we know what happens. Our bodies, it’s a rest and repair and recover period in our lives, and we need that. And I will fully admit that there were times when as my kids have gotten older, they’re staying up later, which means my alone time in the day gets pushed later and later. Because I just still need that time, but I realize I’m kind of exhausted.

Because I haven’t changed my morning routine. I’m still getting up just as early as I was even if they’re still– if they were going to bed earlier. So I’m getting a lot less sleep and feeling the effects of that. So really focusing on sleep. And then another thing, and we actually talked about this in another episode, which I’m not sure if it’s going to air before or after this so I’m just going to reframe it.

But we were talking with our friend, Danny King about fitness competitions. And I have been super consistent, but I haven’t really pushed myself really hard. And so one of my bigger goals and kind of things I’m going to work on and have a plan for and hopefully, progress through is hopefully doing like a weight like power lifting type competition, more of like the Alpha Showdown type of thing.

So that’s going to be my push for 2023. It’s totally outside my comfort zone. But I love lifting weights, and I kind of just want to see what’s possible. You know I’m in this next decade of my life, and kind of, I know where I was in my 20s and 30s. Now in my 40s, what do I want to do? So.

Well, know what I love about that? I love the awareness piece. I feel like so many people struggle with there’s so much that they’re thinking about doing, but they haven’t really addressed what they’re not doing.


And I think you just said it. It was the awareness of my morning routine’s my morning routine. What has changed? Oh, OK, I’m staying up later because my kids are staying up later.


And understanding as far as, yeah, I can be consistent within this thing. But now I have to change this up if I want this to yield that result. So that awareness is huge. And we had a conversation the other day. We were talking about understanding value and cost, and this goes right into that lane. And a lot of times, we we’re associating cost usually to some type of financial piece. But we’re just talking about the cost of your energy right now.


And the value of your time is what we’re talking about as well. So I want to throw this one at you. When coming into preparation or planning, how do you associate value to cost? Like, they’re two different things. And I know they kind of interchange, but when you look at something value wise versus cost wise, let me your thought process when you hear those two words.

Well, I think value is both what you put in and what you get out of it. And so I think– I’ve got to think about how you phrase that. Oh, you kind of got me stumped here. It’s like what you put in and what you get out, right. That’s the value, right? And sometimes, that value is going to feel like the cost of it, the value isn’t worth it, right?

And so I think it’s like valuing like, OK, if it’s going to cost me this, I want it to be valued at this. I kind of want to find that balance within the two because if I’m going to devote time and energy to something like a fitness competition, I really want to see what’s the value to that, what am I going to get out of it in the long run?

It’s not just me doing that competition, but it’s also me modeling something for my kids or setting an example or being able to share that story and maybe inspire somebody else to do it. So to me, it’s like the cost is, it’s going to be the time and energy and the input. And sometimes, it’s going to be the obstacles that you face within it. But then it’s like what you get out of, it’s is it worth it?

Yeah, if my kids see me being strong and healthy and that inspires them. If it inspires, whether it’s listeners of this podcast or readers of the magazine or just like it inspires me to push myself to the better in one other way in the future too, I think that’s where the value comes in. If it’s like the cost is really high, but I’m not feeling like it’s worth it like, oh, it just was not a good use of my time and energy, then I will say, no.

I’m not going to do it. But there’s other things. It’s not just the physical results, but it’s these other more nuanced things. I don’t even know if that made any sense, but it’s in my head.

It made perfect sense, and I mean, I’m going to pull it back for everybody to kind of just connect the dots here. But when you really break down what you just said, we associate so much time when we look at, OK, if you’re about to invest the time and money into a program or a workout or supplement or whatever it may be, we’re looking for that immediate result.


And that’s where people associate the cost. And it’s crazy to me because when we think of gift giving or when it comes around like holiday times or grocery shopping, we don’t even bat an eye if we’re going to go get some milk or it could be whatever, designer purse. It’s crazy. We don’t bat an eye. And I’m guessing it’s because you can see it. So therefore, it’s like everybody else can see it, so therefore it’s associated to–

Right here.


Right here right now.

Yeah, and when we look at our health, we don’t treat it the same. You could do the burpees and the runs and all that, but you’re like, you’re stepping on the scale, and it’s not moving the way you want it to move. And so therefore, you’re like, oh, this is a waste of time and money. And the reality is you’re looking at the bigger picture. And I like what you said there, is you’re modeling a behavior for the kids to see. In return, you’re able to probably do more things with your kids later on in life.


But nobody’s thinking of that slow investment, almost, that time, just like what you do with investments. It appreciates over time if you put in the effort and stay consistent with it, it yields great benefits.

Well, and I think it’s something you and I talk about a lot. It ties back to our purpose, right. And that ties back to more intrinsic motivations versus extrinsic. If I’m just going to do a fitness competition because I want to get buff, I want to be toned, that isn’t going to last for me, right? But it’s got to be tied back to something deeper and something less physically– it doesn’t have to be about the aesthetics. And that’s where I have in the past gotten really caught up in that and failed miserably.

And we all have to go through that, right? But I think if we look at it with those– intrinsic motivation often goes back to what’s our purpose, what’s our why. And you talk about that so beautifully all the time.

Yeah, you got to watch what you’re consuming, too. And I’m not talking about food. I’m talking about when you’re on these social platforms and you’re seeing certain things. So therefore, you’re starting to identify with, oh this is what I need or this is what I need to look like. And it goes back to when you are in that creative mode and creating, of like no, this is who I am, and this is what I’m going to do. That’s why it’s so important for you to have a clear understanding as far as who you are when you’re going about planning.

I love that. So I think, obviously, we’re kind of thinking about this episode as like why plans matter, right? So we’ve talked about it for a little for us individually. You’re a coach. You work with people all the time. I am a magazine editor. We are constantly planning multiple issues way out in the world and it really makes it– way out in the world, way out in the distance is what I mean. We’re planning seven months out in many cases.

But I think when it comes to fitness, there are plans and there’s programs. And there was an article on experience life by our friend, Sam McKinney, about the difference between workouts and programs and plans, and I know this is something you’re really passionate about. So I think we should talk about that a little bit because it can make all difference in your own health and wellness progress.

For sure. So a lot of times, let’s go ahead and just break it down. So a workout is what exactly it sounds like. It’s a workout. And you’re going to sweat, you’re going to move, and it’s fun. That’s what a workout is, and you’ll see a dime a dozen of them on social platforms. You can walk outside, see somebody’s probably doing a workout, right?

When it comes to a program, that’s putting all the pieces to the puzzle. So movement is part of a program. Recovery is part of a program. Sleep, as you said earlier, is part of a program. Nutrition is part of a program, and the management of your stress day to day is part of a program. So having a full thought out process of understanding those elements is part of the program.

And you need, usually– I say this all the time. The best of the best, they have coaches. And I felt like I referenced this when we were talking about competitions. It’s like understanding you need guidance in this space. Even being a subject matter expert around movement, I still seek out guidance so I can become better in this space.

So just understanding, yes, you might know how to squat, lunge, and whatever else it may be. Yes, you know what cardio is, but knowing how to approach it in the way that I want to be efficient during this workout so I get the most out of this workout matters so you yield the results that you’re going for. So workouts are fun. And you can get them– I might do a workout on a Sunday on like kettlebell kings representing alpha, right?

And that’s a workout. It’s a 15 minute blaster, and you got movement going. I applaud that, and that’s great. But if you’re doing that every other Sunday, that’s a workout. A program is consisted of seven days a week, making sure you’re hitting on all those elements I just mentioned around nutrition, sleep, so and so. So it’s a full thought out process as a program to get results.

Right, and it’s progressive, right? And it’s progressive to help you go through this cycle at various different points. So you peak at different points, and you recover at points, all those elements of it, so. Building on that, as you’re getting to a program. As I was prepping for this episode too, I was looking back at some articles we’ve done on Experience Life, and I was thinking about it kind of goes back to the process of even getting to a program, why you want to do it in the first place.

And it’s looking at where are you right now, what’s calling you, what are you feeling driven to do? So there’s this whole kind of initial assessment we have to do as individuals to figure out where we want to go. So I’m thinking about this cycle. It’s kind of this assessment, commitment, feedback and follow through.

I like that.

And that’s part of what’s within a plan and a program because we have to assess where we are. Then we get to the commitment, which is the what, why and how, the who’s going to hold us accountable, the how are we going to do this? Are we going to do a program like yours, David? Or am I going to send it for a signature group training program? Am I going to do these different elements?

And then it’s the when. When can I do this so it actually fits in my life as sustainable? And then we go to feedback. Once you’re in it, you kind of start to see results happening or not. So then you start to question it, like, OK well, what’s working here, what’s not? And then kind of iterating and innovating based on that, because then you get to follow through and you have to react– You have to do the whole thing over again multiple times through.

So it’s this whole cycle within the plan because you’re going to constantly be progressing and running into obstacles that force you to think about what’s next, and do things differently.

You frame it up. I mean, and a lot of our listeners probably can relate to this. It’s like, well you said, it’s a cycle. It’s like a life cycle, like who you were from the ages of one, two, six, seven, eight. Then when you became a teenager. Then when you started to get into adulthood. You’re still doing a lot of these patterns. It’s just you’re evolving within them. So it’s this same exact concept.

And I kind of always frame it up as far as you always want to have that strong foundation. It usually helps a lot, but it’s never too late if you don’t have that strong foundation. You can still learn in that space. So first, establishing a foundation. I always say, those first three months, think of that as that strong foundation. So if you were to say January, February, March, I’m establishing a foundation. Yes, I will go through phases throughout these three months, but this is my foundation.

The next phase for the next three months would be what I call the transformation phase. Now you might see a few results in those first three months, but then this is where the body’s like, whoa. I’m starting to adapt to a new stimulus, change is starting to happen. I Can feel I’m getting stronger. My wind is getting better. My sleep is getting better. And you start to really hone in on that foundation, and the transformation happens.

The last three months, I call it mastery. So you’re taking the first six months of all the things that you’ve learned, and now you’re able to apply with not as much assistance. That’s not to say you no longer need assistance. It’s just probably don’t need as many touch points with the assistance because of that strong foundation.

So that’s how I always frame it up. It’s not for Jamie to come to me as a coach, and you stay with me for 20 years, right? More of like me getting you set up for success, and yeah, you can ping me here and there once you understand how to flow. And maybe we have a session once a week here and there, but you have the blueprint of what it means to be successful.

Right, and then you always have somebody who’s kind of you’re accountable to along the way as well. So I love that. I love kind of thinking about it in that kind of even a time frame. Because when you think about it, that foundational phase that you’re talking about really is that kind of assessment and commitment phase, right. I’m building the habits. I’m really tapping into my why of what I’m doing this.

And then you get into that transformation phase in months three through six. That’s when your body is getting all sorts of feedback. You’re getting results. You’re dealing with an injury and figuring out how do I work with that. There’s all these things that happened, but you get yourself these spaces to kind of continue to transform and change. And sometimes, in ways that are super subtle.

And I think one thing that is really important, you know, how am I doing on a program? What am I measuring as success for a lot of people? Because again, sometimes we can be all about the pounds loss or the body fat percentage. But if we really stop and think about what else has changed as a result of this effort I’m putting in, it’s often things that are unexpected.

And so I love to hear it as somebody who’s working with people every single day. You have so many amazing touch points. What are some of those additional kind of things to be watching for as you’re getting into a program, beyond the number on the scale or the body fat percentage loss, which those can be still really important measures. Don’t get me wrong.

Yeah, better energy, much more productive at work, having energy to play with their kids, noticing that their sleep pattern is better, hydration is going up, they’re just happier. And it’s so crazy. It’s like we don’t associate that as success. You being happy is a great thing. And what it yields also is it’s your happy place now. You’re associating a feeling to like, oh, my workout, and now this brings happiness to me. I’m more productive at work. I’m more productive and engaging with my family.

That is a great measure in my opinion of success. And as much as what you just said, the aesthetic pieces that everybody goes for, by the end of the day, going back to the identity piece and the people who love you, you know.


So just making sure that you understand that from a foundational standpoint, too, is, I know what’s being marketed. Being in the health and fitness industry for so long, the six pack, the biceps, the glutes, of course that’s the sell.


But the reality is, what’s going on on the inside? And if we look at that’s the physical health piece of it. We have so many people struggling with mental health. So to answer your question, the success piece that I’ve seen that people really, really start to appreciate when you bring it to their attention is like, oh, wow, I am happier. I used to come in here 5:00 AM mad at the world, and now I’m smiling, giving people high fives.


So that’s how I would answer that.

Well, that’s quality of life. I mean, like yeah. There’s a quantity that’s probably happened somewhere, right? But your quality of life improved, and you just think about how that shifts how you move through your day to day, that’s kind of amazing. Well, and you were kind of getting to something, you know, the marketing that happens around this. And often in a new year, it’s that time. There’s resolutions.

There’s this mindset sometimes that less is more. I need to eat less. I need to stop doing this. I need to stop. There’s that. But I think a lot of the stuff that we talk about is sometimes more is more, right? More sleep, more protein, more– I don’t even know what else more, but like there’s things that– more recovery. So I think there’s a shift that needs to happen.

I’m really excited because I see this happening within our world that we’re in a lot. But sometimes more is actually the key. When we focus on if I focus on more protein, more fruits and veggies, more of these, what that actually does, it crowds out the other stuff. It leaves less room, but you don’t feel deprived. So the less is not really a focus.

Correct. Correct, and that’s why it comes back to just having good people around you and that education and bringing that about. Your circle of friends and trust and just the people who can help build you up in this space matters, just because that’s what you’re constantly seeing. So whatever you’re constantly seeing is what you’re consuming, so therefore, that’s the way you’re going to start to think.

And we hear it a lot. You become a product of your environment. So if you understand, once again, who you are from identity standpoint, and knowing who you are, if this or that is not the right thing for you, having the power to walk away is huge.

Yeah. Well, David. I mean, what else would you want to cover in terms of plans, progress, there’s lots– we could keep talking all day. I know we could just keep going, but–

I would say, and this goes back to, I remember when we had Lindsay Ogden, I was just like give yourself like grace. Understand that you’re human. Failure is part of the process. And knowing that when you do fail, you gain from that experience. And I always reference this whenever I’m doing some of these coach elevations around the nation, we all had to learn how to ride a bike.


And how many times did we fall before we finally got it? It’s the same thing with any and everything that you’re approaching within your game plan. Understand that failure is part of the process, and that’s how you learn, and that’s how you gain from that experience. So I would just strongly encourage not to fall off the game plan just because you’re not arriving at it in the time frame that you might have planned. Keep moving forward.

Right. Well, and I think what I’m hearing from you too is this starts– it’s not about going all in right from the beginning. It’s start small in ways that you can keep going so you keep building. Right? It’s about that habit tracking, even if it starts with something small, like I just want to be hydrated enough. That’s my initial goal. You know, I just want to sleep a little more in the month of January.

I’m going to start with that. I’m not going to try to sleep more in the month of January and cut out some food thing because I have maybe a sensitivity, whatever. I need to start with one thing and build. Right? So give ourselves that permission to start small and build. And then when we slip, which we inevitably will because, that’s what it is to be human, we can begin again.

There’s never– we’re talking about this in the January issue of Experience Life. The theme of it is begin again. And it kind of goes back to this idea of yoga, where you’re in yoga, and you’re breathing, and your mind gets distracted. Come back to your breath, right? Come back to your goals. Revisit where you want to go. Just because you ate the whole row of Oreos, doesn’t mean you have to eat the whole pack. Right?

You can start again. That’s my weakness there. I eat all the Oreos, but it doesn’t mean I can’t start over or try differently or just have one the next time. So start small.

Right, yeah. I like that. Celebrate all the little wins. Celebrate the big wins when they come. But to your point, just keep moving forward. I love that.

Exactly. All right. Well, David, my friend, my fellow podcaster, we can sign off here. So we have some resources tied to all of this that we’ll share in the show notes for everybody. If you have any questions for us, things like that, you can always email us in our inbox, which you’ll hear the email address for that in the close of the show. But that’s what I’ve got for today. David, anything else?

No, just keep moving forward. Stay strong, live long.

I love it. You’ve always got the right closer for us. It’s so good Thanks, everybody. Thanks for listening.

See y’all later.



We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

Back To Top