Lies we want to believe…
The Illusion of Fitness: Lies We Want to Believe
The fitness industry is full of lies we want to believe.
The promotion of old wives tales as fact is the cornerstone and hallmark of the typical product or supplement campaign: Using this just 10 minutes a day can give you flat abs, or taking this will help you lose 30 pounds in 30 days.
Affronting common sense, brilliant marketers leverage media to spin these yarns to a captive audience that wish they fit into their high school jeans and looked like the woman on the ab saucer. The seemingly too good to be true simply is, yet otherwise smart people are prone to buying into the hype and accepting falsehoods as truth.
According to a report published by the Federal Trade Commission, Americans invest more than $30 billion a year in weight loss products and services. We spend hard-earned money on pills to make us thinner, contraptions to “tone and sculpt” and, in some well-intentioned instances, gym memberships to get fit. Lots and lots of money is being spent, while all the while, simple logic shows us that old-fashioned exercise that doesn’t require a TV or juice bar, and a moderate diet, are the magic bullet we’re seeking.
The power supporting the lies and gimmicks that are the foundation for a multi-million dollar industry: We, the general public, really want to believe the lies because we really don’t want to work hard.
Since the industrial revolution, technology has pulled people from the fields and hard, manual labor and inserted them in to the office cubical. Innovation has impacted even the most minute manual chores: We move leaves with a blower instead of a rake and sit down to mow our often postage-size lawns. Technology has created an attention deficit populous who prefer sound bites to analysis and 60-second meals to home-cooked.
This “easy way” attitude has carried over into our own health and fitness. We look for ways to look like the cover of Vogue or GQ without the effort. We want to pop a pill or drink a “shake” and lose our love handles. We want to sit in front of the TV and squeeze, pull or crunch our rolls, flaps and jiggles away.
In our most ambitious moments, we let ourselves believe that fitness is accomplished in 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week, on the elliptical machine… in front of the TV. We embrace this minimum prescription for fitness, working as little as we have to, yet expect that taking the easy way will deliver real, measurable results.
The latest infomercial selling a product that burns fat, tones muscle and will make you popular sells a million units while a set of good old boring dumb bells sits in the closet or is used as a door stop.
The truth isn’t marketing spin or hype: We have to work hard if we want to achieve the fitness we value and desire. We have to get off of the couch, pick up the dumb bells, and move our bodies. We have to actually work as part of working out.
What is an effective workout? An effective workout increases your work capacity. Effective workouts increase you ability to lift, move and recover. An effective workout is functional: The movements are multi-joint and multi planes of movement.
Effective workouts – workouts that really will increase your fitness, help you drop fat and increase muscle — are hard. You can’t read the newspaper, talk on your cell phone or sit down in front of the TV and achieve an effective workout.
An effective workout is intense. It should result in some gasping for breath and significant burning in the muscles. An effective workout doesn’t allow the time to be stationary long enough, or moving around so little, that you can read the newspaper or Shape magazine. You’ll never feel like an effective workout was easy.
Anything worth accomplishing is not easy. In fact, anything of value is difficult to obtain. There’s no easy way out, but it’s worth the effort. Being fit is really hard work, but it will deliver the results you’re seeking.
Note: This is an article I wrote in 2007. Someone came across it and commented. I still like it so I reposted it.