Have you ever noticed the shameful amount of misconceptions, stereotypes, just plain lies floating around the fitness industry today? Because I certainly have... Here are the first few that pop into my head:
(1) You have to starve yourself to be skinny. - This is not true, but sadly, is widely accepted as truth.
(2) Being skinny equals being healthy. - This is also untrue but has long been a universal standard of health.
(3) Working out has to be miserable in order to make any progress. - This is just nonsense. If this were the only way to make progress, no one ever would!
(4) Squats are bad for your knees. - Squats aren't what's bad for your knees, improper squat form is!
And those are just the few that popped into my head... Sure, each misguided notion does come from a kernel of truth. Yes, a skinny person is more likely to be healthier than their overweight counterpart, but that does not translate into meaning that every skinny person is healthy. And sure, applying some restriction to your diet helps you lose weight, but the functionality lies within an appropriate caloric deficit, NOT within starving yourself and disrupting your body's internal functions. Additionally, just because exercise is hard work doesn't mean it has to be miserable. Take me for example; I'm a powerlifter. Powerlifting is seriously strenuous work, and if I hated it, I would be miserable doing it every day. But, the beautiful thing is, I chose to pursue powerlifting, because it makes me happy and excited. It's important for everyone to figure out what avenue of fitness makes them feel equally positively so that the hard work required isn't miserable but exhilarating.
Beyond the misconceptions debunked above, there's one in particular I want to address. It's this notion of basically killing yourself during a workout or not doing it at all. The idea that, if you don't feel like you're near collapsing, then you're not doing it right. In more realistic terms, that means working at a maximal capacity for the entire duration of your workout.
This is not only entirely false, but it's also an ignorant and dangerous approach to fitness.
Not to mention, it's also a really good way to make working out completely miserable, and what happens when working out is miserable? You give it up, and quickly!
The other day I was working with a client who shall remain unnamed, and as said client was completing an incline walking drill they made this comment to me (paraphrased):
"This is so new for me. This whole not feeling totally wrecked while I'm working out thing. It's nice."
The client then went on to say that they didn't entirely trust this more modest and careful approach at first as they came from a previous experience with a crossfit gym, but that they were really coming around to it. The client had promoted us to friends saying (again, paraphrased),
"They really make you feel like you're making progress without running you into the ground."
You have no idea how happy it made me to hear these remarks. Not only does it feel amazing to know that a client is really taking notice of their own progress, but to help them realize that fitness is about more than just coming into the gym, abusing your body, and then going home. This is an invaluable turning point for many people. It's important to understand that exercise does not have to be excruciating, and fitness is about more than just weight and muscle definition...
Fitness is about the health of the entire body, and that includes every aspect of it. I could go on an never ending tangent about the internal health benefits of exercise that often become forgotten in quest for bigger muscles and a smaller waist, but here are just a few:
1. Reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases
2. Improved movement quality, balance and coordination
3. Improved joint health and comfort
4. Increased stamina and cardiovascular endurance
5. Lowered resting heart rate
6. Increased energy levels, and therefore, reduced fatigue and lowered dependence on caffeine and other stimulants
7. Improved quality of sleep
8. Improved mental state
But these health benefits are far less likely to show themselves if you adopt an approach to fitness that doesn't nourish your body as well as exercising it. Many people are similar to the client paraphrased above, in that they come from a background of extremely high intensity exercise with very little, if any, restorative or corrective work done, and they tend to expect the same out of all of their fitness experiences. They expect to come in, have their butt kicked for an hour, and then to leave hobbling out the door. But, hopefully, I've dissuaded you from this approach, because warm up, cool down, proper intensity during exercises as well as varied intensity, and corrective and restorative work are so vitality important to a well-balanced exercise program.
If you're lacking an understanding of how to employ these strategies, please contact me, and I will help as best I can. The more people who reach this turning point and debunk the myth that working out has to be miserable and painful the better!