Which takes us back to the fitness industry.
The very source that should be here to help. To be the voice of reason. To ensure the best advice, plans and solutions are being delivered, is the very industry that, for the most part, is exacerbating the problem.
They see a desire from their target audience to get amazing results quickly and with little effort and rather than looking to educate and encourage longstanding and healthy solutions, they pander to those wishes.
To breakdown just a few of the options on offer:
The trainer who wants to be different
Ironically this is probably the most common approach. Look like you are doing something bizarre, catch the attention of everyone watching, make out as if it’s something revolutionary and wait for the questions to come flooding in as to why this is so special. Come up with something that sounds plausible, has little to no research backing it up but it makes it look as if you are delivering something exciting and unique that will get results in a matter of weeks.
These are, in my view, the worst of the worst. Firstly, the fitness plans they are creating for their clients are not thought out, have no long-term plan to them and are often borderline dangerous (sometimes not even borderline).
The only benefit in a lot of these workouts would be for someone looking to join the circus.
The client isn’t the priority here, they are being used as a marketing tool to find the next client.
The main culprits for this technique are trainers who have no actual results or testimonials to base their reputation on. That could be because they are only recently qualified and their course provider did not instill good habits or processes in them; they have been going for a while, but using these techniques, they never actually achieve anything tangible; they have been working as a trainer for a while, but don’t bother to actually study or research anything and instead rely on YouTube videos or their Facebook feed for information.
Personal Training should be just that, personal! And so, plans should be long term, progressive and designed specifically for the person being trained, not for the wow or entertainment factor of others (or to impress the client over giving them the progress they are looking for).
If this is someone you currently pay to manage your fitness programmes, consider whether or not they are actually working on ensuring what will work for you and why they are employing such ‘out of the box’ techniques in the first place.
If there is no real reason, consider looking elsewhere.
The latest gizmo or piece of equipment.
There are new tools and pieces of equipment being developed all the time. Often it’s just an old tool with a brighter paint job or a quirkier name. Often it is something ‘revolutionary’ that is completely new and unique.
However, human anatomy is not new. And whilst science is always finding out new things and debunking old thinking, how the body moves hasn’t changed for thousands of years (since evolution had us walking more upright).
The movement patterns we employ today are just the same as they were 20 years ago. And so the training systems that were effective then are going to be just as effective now.
Finding ways of manufacturing equipment to make it more ergonomic or to suit differing movement patterns in different individuals are great. Refinement in all areas of fitness is always welcome. But, as with the trainer above, making something new just so there is something new to sell and trying to make out that it is the latest and greatest invention of all time is, at best, misleading, but generally is little more than the false promise of a snake oil salesman.
Most times the people touting these new devices sell them. In other words, they have a financial incentive to be positive about it.
Whether deliberate or not, the benefits get massively overhyped. Suddenly trainers have them in every single workout and start adapting routines and programmes to suit the equipment rather than using it as a tool that can occasionally be useful (if it’s even of that level).
For every 1000 new, lifechanging, pieces of equipment, possibly 1 of them can come even close to living up to that reputation. And even then, gym equipment should be considered as tools in your toolbox. You wouldn’t use a hammer for every DIY job, you would use the best tool for the job. No matter how amazing your hammer is, it’s not going to better at cutting than a saw, or better at putting in a screw than a screwdriver.
So, if you are a trainer who uses the same 2 pieces of equipment in every workout, ask yourself why that is. Do you have a financial incentive to do so? Would you do the same if you couldn’t earn a commission on selling the product? Even if you don’t earn from it, have you just bought into the hype or perhaps, as with the trainer above, you think it makes you stand out and be different (in which case, it is still a perceived financial incentive).
And if you are working with someone who continually uses the same equipment over and over (and that equipment is not a barbell or a set of dumbbells) then ask why that is and really listen to the answer.
If you feel like you are now talking to a salesperson, maybe reconsider your approach.
There are now more articles videos and online content being produced in a day than it is possible for any individual person to consume in a lifetime.
As much as it seems there is a new gym opening on every corner and more personal trainers getting qualified than there are people looking for personal training, the web is even more cluttered.
On the plus side, if there is a piece of information you need to find, chances are it is out there for you to access.
On the downside, in order to stand out, people feel they have to be unique. So offering up a video on good deadlift technique is only going to get lost in the shuffle of the other 5000 videos on the same topic. So, just like the routes above, people feel the need to demonstrate something strange and unique. Whether it’s of use or not is neither here nor there, the goal is to get the clicks and the views.
Even if it is a useful technique, more often than not, it is not as beneficial as the more traditional training methods. However, if it is being presented from a known celebrity or trusted source, many people will take it as the secret sauce that is going to unlock an amazing transformation in them and build their entire fitness plan around it.
Often, if you were to ask the creator of the plan (assuming they are indeed reputable) they would confirm that it was little more than a finisher technique or they had developed it for a very specific purpose, but it wasn’t to be taken as the foundation of the average gym going audiences training plan.
I could go on and cover many more options, but I’m sure you see the trend.
In a world of people looking to sell their services, products or courses, the idea of being unique often supersedes quality and usefulness.
And because most people are presenting their lives through an Instagram filter or selective editing, the gap between perception and reality when it comes to what is the norm is widening. And as it does so, the panic, for many grows.
It’s easy to feel that you are falling further and further behind the lives of others.
To wake up each morning and see yourself at your worst and instantly compare it to the online version of morning in PJs presented by the wannabe models and attention seekers who have the “just woke up like this” and “I’m so hideous in the morning” photos plastered over their social media. Which are actually the result of 40mins make-up, hair styling and the most flattering lighting and filtering possible, 100 photos taken and the absolute cream being presented to the world.
The truth is, the ideal fitness plan is unique to each individual.
But one thing is absolutely certain. There are no quick fixes.
Sure, some people respond to exercise and dietary changes quicker than others, but no one has the magic solution that is going to cause you to transform your appearance overnight (other than an amazing makeup artist and highly skilled photoshop technician).
In fact, any trainer, facility or supplement salesman telling you their solution can get you from A to B in a definitive time is straight out lying to you.
They don’t know you. They don’t know your physiology. They don’t know your genetic code. Nor can they see the future.
No one knows the circumstances that are going to come your way in the coming weeks.
Perhaps something stressful or upsetting will happen that will prevent you from sleeping well. Maybe you’ll catch a virus or bug that will hamper your immune system. You may go over on your ankle or pinch a nerve in your lower back.
Anything could happen and nothing is certain.
Yes, average results in a laboratory situation can give a good indicator. But we don’t live in a lab and no one is the definition of average.
A trainer, coach or product creator who is able to be honest with you; tell you about the hurdles and issues that may come up, but then explain how they can be dealt with to ensure you still achieve the results you are looking for is much more valuable than the one that sells you the starts and then hands you nothing more than a ladder.
If you truly want to see results, the first step is to get real with the process.
Understand that this is about your future, not about your next few weeks. Your life is going to span much longer than until your next holiday (or if not, then what are you doing wasting your remaining days in the gym?).
There’s nothing wrong with setting a high bar for your expectations. Just understand the process is not magic. There is no winning lottery ticket when it comes to physiology.
It takes a sensible approach and one without unrealistic expectations, to see genuine, long term results.
For those in the fitness industry reading this, I implore you, make your service about your clients. Make it about fitness. Genuinely look to serve others (the way you say you will in your marketing campaigns and consultations). Make health and fitness about health and fitness, not about the size of your bank balance.
Make the world a better place, one person at a time.
By doing that, everyone benefits.
Those looking to improve their lives make genuine improvements.
Those looking to be successful in the industry get to achieve success.
And that success starts with the success of those you are claiming to serve.
And everyone else gets to experience a happier, more joyful world due to the fact that more people have a strong, healthy and high level of self-worth.
Look beyond the filter and you’ll see that those you idolise and feel so far removed from have just as many problems, stresses and self-doubts as you. And looking from the outside in, you’ll likely see that others see your filtered profile as something to be jealous of.
Or better yet, simply look inward. See the greatness in yourself. See your true worth. Nourish it, look after it and soon enough that internal change will express itself externally.
The ultimate fitness plan is simple
Treat yourself in a way you deserve to be treated, find what works for you and makes you feel good about yourself and keep doing it.
It’s simple, but I never said it was easy.
If you want to read something that will actually change your life and let you look at it in a better way, I strongly suggest:
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
It’s not what you might think from the title and whilst it contains lessons and techniques you can employ, it is also an entertaining novel and an engaging story. It’s a book that should almost be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to make a positive change in their lives.