I work hands on with clients every day. Whatever the client wants to accomplish, I can broadly describe his training as this: Perform exercises that will increase mobility, strength, muscle size, and cardiovascular capacity.

I’m clinical in my approach, and I’ve gotten very good at pinpointing the root of a client’s issue, addressing it through scientific means, and watching him or her progress rapidly. That said, when you approach everything in this manner, it’s easy to get caught up in the how: how to lose fat, how to get bigger, how to get stronger. And when you get caught up in the how, you can often lose sight of the why.

Earlier this year I took on a new client named Jim, a 74-year-old retired orthodontist. Jim had a torn rotator cuff and was not able to raise his right arm over his head. He had surgery to fix the issue back in 2001 but aggravated it again, and doctors were recommending another surgery. Jim wanted to get on with life and enjoy his retirement, not go under the knife again and plot out another long rehab process. To that end, he was motivated to do whatever it took to get the job done.

He surprised me from the very first session, showing up ready to work hard. Through simple progression, working on the quality of the soft tissues around his shoulders, incorporating a variety of activation drills, and focusing on stability through greater ranges of motion, Jim has completely changed. He moves better, he’s stronger, and the fire in his eyes is even brighter.

I remember one day when Jim came in to work out and told me that he was knocked off his horse earlier in the day. He was sore and banged up but refused to miss the workout.

Sometimes life knocks you down. You can either stay down or jump back up and get ready for a fight. Ultimately, it is your mindset that will keep you pushing forward.

Jim showed me his why, and forced me to remember my own. Before you go into the gym today, remember yours.