What No One Tells You About Being Average – A Book Review

by Jonathan Wong, 25 March, 2016


“Have you ever wondered why many people struggle to find a fitness routine that achieves their goals?”

There is an abundance of research on practically every fitness and health topic out there.

end of averageI thought about tackling this question in a blog post after reading the book – “The End of Average: How we succeed in a world that values sameness” by Todd Rose.

The book taught me this: The customized approach that Genesis Gym personal trainers take towards serving clients is the correct one. Even though it takes more time, energy and resources, making sure the programme we design for you is the one that gets you the best results, is exactly what our team believes in. 

Tell me a story

In this book, there is a story about how the US Air Force was having far too many accidents during peace time. Up to 17 accidents per day! They were losing good pilots and planes.

This was despite advances in aviation technology, aircraft reliability, pilot skills and precise training.

As part of the research into this problem, they decided to study the pilots themselves in 10 different physical attributes. Chest size, leg length, arm length, hand size etc.

The middle 30 percent for each attribute was considered the norm.

Over 4,000 pilots were studied. The number of pilots who fell into the middle 30 percent in all 10 attributes was calculated.

The number of pilots that fell into the middle 30 percent for all attributes was…

NONE, zero, zilch.

No pilots were average in all ten attributes. Even with over 4,000 participants, none were found. A major surprise to everyone involved.

Even when only 3 factors were chosen, only about 3 percent of the pilots fit into “average” on all three factors.

This was a big factor to why there were crashes. Pilots were sitting in a cockpit built for the average person. Essentially the flight controls were not well-positioned for any pilot – it was one size fits none!

Under high speed and stress, they made more mistakes, causing accidents.

Upon learning this, adjustable seating, mirror and peddle positions were quickly introduced. Crashes dropped dramatically.

I relate this to the question we started out this post with. If we have so much research and information, why is it still difficult for many people to reach their fitness goals? Why are they “crashing” despite the ever-increasing amounts of available knowledge?

Why many still struggle

Many struggle because of the tendency to view “average” as “ideal”, when it is simply what it is – a mathematical formula. Many personal trainers, dietitians and doctors make the mistake of trying to compartmentalize people into the “ideal” model. Instead, what should have been done is the customization of fitness solutions to our unique bodies.

For example a 55kg, 163cm tall, female who is moderately active would need about 1900-2000 calories per day to maintain her weight. This is according to most clinical research.*

At Genesis Gym, our personal trainers in Singapore have seen more than 10,000 clients over the last 10 years. We have documented their food, training, and body-fat levels, so forming an in-house research study to see if those averages are useful.

best personal trainer in singapore

Genesis Gym’s personal trainers have more than 200,000 hours of documented personal training sessions to draw data and experience from

What have we observed at Genesis Gym?

In practice, we find that there is a huge variance in caloric requirements. We have had female clients that size (55kg, 163cm height) who required at least 2400 calories to maintain weight. We have also had clients who could maintain that same weight on as little as 1000 calories – less than half.

On average the studies are correct. But when applied to people in real life, they can be far off target.

There are many other examples where individualization is critical to success.

  • With food types, one person may be very successful on a low-carbohydrate diet. However, another person of similar size may find it impossible to stick to the same diet, or they may encounter some of the possible issues with low carbohydrate diets. These include: sleep disturbances, poor workout recovery, and constipation. For these clients, a more “Mediterranean” style diet with more lean meats and natural starches may work better.
  • Some athletes can perform well on a low-carbohydrate diet, while others may need massive amounts of carbohydrates to perform at their best. We trained a Singapore national team rock climber who needed 12 bowls of rice per day to maintain his weight, even though he only weighed 60kg. This is 3 times more than the “average” requirement.
  • Some personal training clients do well on more exercise and more food, while our personal trainers need to advise other clients to eat less and also to train less. Some clients simply do better on different amounts of training.
  • Some clients do better using lighter weights and higher reps. Some do better with lower reps and heavy weights.
  • Some clients need more magnesium to recover well from the stress of training, while other need less.
  • Some clients need to update their training programs only after 6 weeks. Others need to change up their training every 2-3 weeks for best results.
  • Some clients respond well to “thoroughly-researched” supplements like creatine. But some clients find almost no benefits.
  • Some clients can lose weight using intermittent fasting (eating only during a short time period each day), while others find it stressful on their body.
low carb diet with personal trainer singapore

Low-carbohydrate diets are great for some but frustrating for others

We know that we cannot use a simple “average” programme, which most other gyms and personal trainers in Singapore use. We would get some random success here and there, but nowhere near the consistent results and testimonials that can be achieved by understanding clients as individuals.

So if you notice that you get better results using a programme that is vastly different from someone else who is the same size as you, just remember that your body is not the average of a university study.

You are a unique combination of your genetics, current health status, current training program, social environment, toxic load, nutrient status, digestive system health, stress burden and more.

If you are someone who is struggling to achieve a fitness goal, try to take these conditions into account as you plan your fitness programme.

You can consider using different diet styles, different types of training, different supplements. You can adopt different lifestyle habits like sleeping earlier and using prayer or deep breathing to lower stress levels.

Each of these is worth a post in itself. But as long as its safe, give it a try for a while and see if it brings you closer to your goal. Document the results, and you will have learned something about your own body that no book, magazine, website, or video could have taught you.


I hope this post brings to light how wonderfully different each one of us is. Everyone can achieve their goals, it is just that it may take a different approach for each person.

If you would like learn what works best for you, our personal training programme is designed to empower you with this life skill.  Genesis Gym personal trainers will design the ideal plan for you so you do not need to go through months or years of stagnation and frustration.

Our team’s experience combined with thousands of documented cases, give us the information to help you safely, effectively and quickly. Click on the button below to find out about our programmes.

I Want To Achieve My Goals

To you happiness, strength and health,

Coach Jonathan Wong


Genesis Gym Singapore

-Smart Fitness, Total Health

*2002, "Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids," Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine.

*Ainsworth B.E., 2002, January, "The Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide," Prevention Research Center, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, Univ of SC.

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