This article is my opinion of what I believe is wrong with the fitness industry. This article is in no way intended to replace medical advice. Please seek the advice of a licensed medical provider before starting any fitness regimen.
- The ‘no pain, no gain’ myth. Why should any experience, let alone an experience that is supposed to better yourself, hurt? Outside of any sport-specific or military training, I would say working out is to be challenging but enjoyable. In this era of 80-85% obesity rates, the last thing a person needs is an experience that hurts. Time to challenge and do away with this ruinous mindset.
- What’s your excuse? You’ll see this tagline on ‘cutting-edge’ fitness industry ads. But are we really going to go there? With the fast pace of everyday life where people are fitting in more tasks in less time, there are plenty of ‘excuses’: Time, fatigue, reality amongst others. What’s Your Excuse is a media campaign slogan that works. It’s just not based in reality.
- Shaming: It’s Bad for Your Health. Any kind of shaming is wrong. Especially self-shaming. Why torture yourself over a mythical ‘perfect look’ that the fitness industry puts out there? It’s very bad to feel guilty for not working out. To not push yourself towards unrealistic goals and ‘intensity’ that has been prepackaged and mass produced. The fitness industry should be encouraging you to work out for your happiness and for optimal health, not to deride you for not looking like you just stepped off an Arnold Classic competition.
- Enforced gym contracts. These mandatory 12-month contracts hook you in long after you’ve stopped using their services. It’s disingenuous, petty and makes the industry as a whole look like it’s all about greed and self-aggrandizement- a stark contrast to what the original premise of being a provider of inspiration, motivation and fitness should be about.
- Aesthetics over total health. Most fitness industry companies in my opinion should either be selling plastic surgery or ‘adult services’. Little to no attention is paid to health. Since I do write about ‘The Total Self’, this is apropos. They are basically selling dreams for cash. This image of the cardio bunny (and all that comes with it) or the gym rat, is doing more harm than good. You’d be surprised to see just how many people work out not because of health (working out has tremendous life quality benefits) but because of expectation. The expectation to look like a model or some big, buff badass. It’s not right. Work out to meet your goals, not to fit in.
- The messaging of the fitness industry is oftentimes pointless, useless and damaging. How many times have you seen a sign advertising a fitness facility and it’s borderline insane? Like ‘Cheat on your spouse, not your workouts’. Something is wrong when you have advertising that tells you that infidelity to your spouse is more acceptable than skipping a few workouts or remaining overweight. This is total insanity. Besides, the journey to fitness is a long one. Often one of self-discovery, struggle and realization. Messages such as the one I gave you does not help. Period.
- Group Training. In this current climate, most group training participants rarely speak. To anyone. The trainers basically mail it in, not even knowing the names of their clientele that are there to learn from them. The lack of community in these classes almost ensure a high turnover rate and certainly a feeling if detachment.
In closing, this is not a definitive list, but my opinion. These things I have seen time and again in my 21 years in and around the fitness industry. Again, I implore you to find out what works for you and to be self-aware. Hopefully through articles such as this, we as a society can start to turn the tide on obesity, disease and the resurgence of community in fitness.