Goal-setting with Joe, Fitness Instructor

Goal-Setting with Joe, Fitness Instructor

We caught up with Joe, who has been working full time as a gym supervisor at UoB since 2019. Joe was also a student, graduating in 2018 with a degree and masters in Sport Science! After spending time as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for professional Rugby, and competing in weightlifting- Joe has a diverse background when it comes to Sport, Fitness, and goal-setting.

Where do you suggest people start when setting their goals?

Identify what it is you want to do! Goals need to be personal and stem from internal motives and not external. External motives can work over a short period of time, however internal motives that focus on yourself often lead to the best long term success.

I think it also helps to determine what is defined as ‘success’ for you, which is completely different for each person. With social media comparisons, we tend to view success as what others are showcasing rather than what applies to our own situations.

For example, comparing yourself with an Olympic Champion weightlifter who has been in the sport from a young age, versus beginning at aged 23 isn’t a fair comparison. You can apply zone of proximal development to this – setting a goal or picking something that is just outside your current situation and within reach. 

Image of circle layers demonstrating zones of proximal development

What are your top tips for setting goals at the gym?


Follow the SMART principle:


Specific – give a real goal that’s tangible, for example I want to squat 100kg vs I want to squat more

Measurable – Can you measure your goal and make it tangible.

Attainable – Challenging but possible – zone of proximal development.

Realistic – Being honest with yourself or the fitness professional. Set a goal that you can realistically achieve, given your situation and time scale.

Time bound – put some form of deadline on it.

What do you think the benefits are to setting goals?


Goal setting provides structure and purpose to coming to the gym. It also gives you something to anchor onto. Normally when we set a goal, we naturally dial in other areas of our life too without realising. If the goal is weight loss, you may find you develop other skills too, like more creative cooking to help achieve that goal.

Depending on personality, some people enjoy structure and purpose. I personally am very routine orientated so I struggle to come to the gym if I don’t have a plan or something I’m working towards. Goals can also be anything – it doesn’t have to be a physical thing all the time, it could be simply trying to come 3x a week instead of 1x a week, or making a new social circle through classes.

Do you have any tips to help people to get motivated at the gym?

I think the strongest builder of motivation is achieving goals that you set, in turn that builds confidence and gives you a background of internal motivation you can use. You can set mini goals along the way to a larger goal that can work like checkpoints along the way. If you’re training for an endurance event and have 16 weeks to do so, having landmark goals at certain points that are realistic and can be achieved will keep the motivation going as you go through your training.


“Its working and you’re on track, keep going”.


You will also begin to see success from your own effort and that form of motivation is far better than anything else.

Is there any specific equipment/activity you would suggest starting with if you’re a beginner?


I recommend everyone, if possible, do some form of resistance training. There is a huge body of research (a lot from the School of SportExR at UoB) that shows how beneficial resistance training is to overall health ,and most importantly, healthy ageing.

If you are not sure where to start there are inductions, GGT classes for strength, and beginner specific sessions. If you want more of a personal touch, you can opt for a Personal Trainer in the gym.

Want to kick-start your goal-setting journey this year? Find out below how you can get more involved in Sport and Fitness with our membership options, and achieve your goals with our high-level facilities and fitness staff to guide you along the way!