I guess this article is my first real rant, although you can check out my article on bad personal trainers previously posted if you want to. One of my main problems within my industry of personal training (and the gym industry as well) is that there is so much misinformation put out there to poor uninformed people who are just desperate for anything to help them. I don’t think a day goes by without me hearing some person saying, “I heard blah blah is good” or “I’m trying this new thing to help me” or “what is your opinion about x?” Often this is also a way for them to magically change faster, without putting the hard work in that is really required for permanent change. Then the cycle rinses and repeats.
The latest one that made me snap this week was for a wonderful new class where the participants hold something called a ViPR, which is touted as “the evolution of fitness”. There is a great promo Youtube video of people doing classes and movements with this thing. Here’s the funny part – it is a log. With handles. It really kind of looks like s strongman log that someone looked at one day and said: “if I could make that lighter, I might be able to sell it.” They have varying weights and if you go to their web site they have all sorts of crap on there about how effective it is for “whole body integrated exercises”. Because you can’t do these types of things without holding a 10 pound log? Or just maybe you can do the exact same thing holding ANYTHING that weighs the same amount? Even better – if you want to buy one (and please remember that this is essentially a weighted plastic log with handles) the 10 pound version costs $180 plus shipping. The 45 pound one (so the same as any standard Olympic bar) costs almost $400.
I’m going to a conference next weekend in Montreal. I just know that at the trade show for that conference I’m going to see booths and booths of equipment just like this that make me cringe when I see people spending their money on them. From the Shake Weight to the brainwashed masses who support Body By Vi, my industry unfortunately is a marketers dream, because they prey on the fact that people want a quick fix and any solution that they can find to their issues of being overweight and unhealthy. Here’s a novel idea: why don’t we as fitness professionals decide one day to get rid of all the extra things and actually teach people how to move properly and get strong without all of the toys? Last I checked, I actually don’t need any fancy machines or special ropes in order to make someone increase their heart rate, add force to a joint to help make it stronger or stimulate some positive change for your mind and body.
Tell you what. For your next workout try to do one with only your body. No extra equipment beyond altering mechanics and motion in order to make things a bit more difficult. Can you squat a lot of weight? Try increasing your depth or changing tempo to go really slow. Do lots of push-ups? Try handstand ones. Pulling? Wide grip chins can be quite difficult even for a strong person. Try a totally isometric workout and see if you are sore the next day. I’ll almost guarantee you will be. Work on a movement you have trouble with – without weight – before loading yourself up. Get it perfect. Make sure that you can do one variant before moving onto the next. Forget about things like amount of reps, weight, how many calories and what the WOD is for today and just work on controlling your movements.
Always remember that the body adjusts and improves based on application and specifically designing things in order to stimulate the change required to head towards your goal, whatever it may be. No goal? That’s a completely separate issue but an easy one to address. So many people spend years and years fighting to improve themselves when the answer, as simple as it is, is right there in front of them. Breathe. Move. Eat healthy, vital things and get enough rest in order for your body to repair itself. These things are what will help you the most, not a $180 stick you could make yourself at Home Depot for $5. Do this for long enough and within a year you will be looking in the mirror at a whole new body wondering why it took you so long to figure it out in the first place. And, you will be miles ahead of all of the other struggling masses buying gym memberships on a daily basis and then never using them.
Now, if you will pardon me I’m going to go and exercise. Without a $180 log. I think it will work just fine.