Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rant: Fitness Fads

So as promised, the next rant is on fitness fads, like Sketchers Shape Ups. Before I get started, don't get me wrong, I have two pairs of shape ups and I spend a majority of my time each day in them. I work in retail where the floor is concrete, so standing up for 8 hours a day on concrete does nothing good for your back and knees. I find that sketchers shape ups and their huge amount of padding lessen the impact of the floor, but I don't think they work for toning.

I went shopping recently with a friend of mine who walks very fast. I'm not a fan of fast walking in shopping centers, why, I don't know. But I had my sketchers on and I tried walking the retarded way that they tell you to in the little booklet to "tone your bum and thighs". I didn't feel any different, but my legs and bum did hurt. I'm sure I would have felt the same way with my normal runners though.

I do have a background in business so I do understand marketing and what it is meant to achieve. There are some great examples of crap that sells for hundreds of dollars because its the latest fad. However, marketing plays on human behaviour. One guy I saw at a bodybuilding show last year (who was an absolute mass monster) came out on stage and people were shocked... they had no idea his physique was like that. Why? Because he didn't subscribe to the marketing that "all body building males should wear singlets at the gym to show off their huge physics". Not even his mum knew how big he was. Go figure.

That said though, the fitness industry is a huge money maker. Think of the billions of dollars spent on the latest tracksuits, runners, gym bags (when worn elsewhere you look like a bum) and the millions spent on supplements and protein drinks, as well as sport drinks (though any exercise buff will tell you that sports drinks are full of sugar). A friend of mine who is trying ever so hard to "tone up" (she wants to look like the glamour models, not the figure competitors) has been training with a lot of 'experts' that have been getting her to push massive weights with them, and because they're all male, they don't know how to train a female. They got her leg pressing 130lb, she was mortified when I told her that all that's going to achieve over time will be huge legs and a huge round ass. I told her the best thing for her was a personal trainer who specialises in women. Her response? They're too expensive. And of course they are, but what would you rather? Listening to some guido who thinks he knows everything because he's been training with his best friend for a year, or someone who has taken the time to perfect the techniques of training on themselves, has a proven track record with competitions personally and with their clients and has a legal liability to see that you're training safely (and correctly). I'd take the personal trainer, rather than the 'expert'. (That'll probably be my next rant...) Now I'm not saying I'm an expert either, and maybe these guys that my friend knows are really good at what they do, because some of the things they tell her are the same things a lot of others would tell her. But I don't want to see her hurt herself due to some moron telling her stupid things, (Which is another reason why I like training alone) or pushed to lift heavy weights when she doesn't want to gain muscle mass.

Anyway, back to my initial rant on fads... The sketchers do not work for toning up everything as they so claim. But it's like buying a gym membership. If you've spent $600 for a yearly membership, and you don't want to waste $600, you go to the gym as often as you can. If you need to pay $200 for the latest pair of sketchers just to walk 30 minutes every day when previously you were a couch potato, then buy the sketchers and walk, you'll be better for it.

I have a nike+ running watch that connects to my runners that tells me a whole heap of information about my "run". I use it when walking the dogs so I can track how often and how far I've walked them. This is a huge fad, but it's helpful to me. I like being able to track what I'm doing, and if there was some kind of way to track lifting weights without having to write it in a diary, I'd be doing that too. The only time I'd diarise my weights would be when I was in training for a competition, with a specific goal to reach.

I'm one of the many that can go into a gym, train hard for 2 weeks straight, and have obvious definition at the end of those weeks. I often get told at work that I look like I work out, even though I haven't been to the gym in a while. I'm aiming to go back tonight for the first time in a month.

I do subscribe to a lot of fads, and my partner has even almost talked me into getting an iPhone just for the apps (though I do love my iPod... so I might just get an iPod touch) because there are a lot of fitness apps, and a lot of other apps that would distract me that I would find hugely useful.

The main thing with fads though, is that as long as you stick to them and they work, there's nothing wrong with them. We need a healthier world and a healthier populations, so we should be doing whatever we can to take advantage of any exercise we can get. In Australia right now, we're hitting warmer weather, and today in Melbourne it was 28 degrees. I've had to wait to walk my doggies until it cooled down, because with their heavy coats they would have been too exhausted. And like I also mentioned before, tonight I will go back to the gym for the first time in many weeks. I'm not sure how I'll go, but I'll definitely sleep well tonight and hurt tomorrow.

F xo

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