There is a massive “follow-me” trend in the fitness industry to glorify exercise as an all-out war on the body.
I call it the “capitalism” of fitness and health—all the military-style boot camps, Latin dance-inspired workouts, ridiculously intense pseudo workout routines, and general glorification of pain, sweat and vomit.
Various boutique fitness studios and gyms are cashing in on massive hyped-up fitness programmes sold to the masses. These programmes are devised by influential “experts” from overseas and delivered to the local market via partnerships.
These so-called fitness trends tend to impress a growing percentage of a health-conscious population who likely cannot tell the difference between a bicep brachii and bicep femoris muscle.
The worst fitness trend is something I call "Cross-breed" workouts
Some years ago, CrossFit and HIIT went out on a date and got drunk. Ten months later – because CrossFit and HIIT people do everything faster with more sweat – they gave birth to an ambiguous offspring with webbed feet.
These Cross-breed workouts consist of short rest periods, overly complex and demanding body movements, breathing hard, lots of sweating and an inexplicable air of smugness with cool hip-hop music playing in the background, as if profuse sweating and a pounding heart were the only determinants of a "good" workout.
It's sort of like CrossFit, but without the Olympic lifts or squats or deadlifts. And it’s like HIIT, but there aren't any active recovery periods. It's just frenetic, neuro-fuelled, non-stop activity with a puzzlingly superior attitude.
And it makes you wonder, why are today’s consumers, even with massive knowledge available to them anywhere at their fingertips, still falling for the oldest marketing trick in the world?
What trick is it?
For whatever product you’re marketing, create a ton of hype about it and be exclusive. Period.
It may come with a cost and is inherently dangerous
I think it’s a great thing and a terrible thing with some of the latest fitness trends. It’s great that people get inspired to move more. I think if somebody can get inspired to exercise, that’s fantastic.
One problem is that certain people can look good performing some of these exercises on video or stage for a myriad of reasons. Some people can do certain exercise programs and look great doing it, because they are young twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings who may have never experienced some sort of chronic pain before. Other people, however, they’re now not exercising because they’re home icing their knees and lower back.
A 40-something male client of mine signed up for one of such “trendy” fitness programs with his wife. They each bought 10 sessions at a cost of $500 – attended only ONE session and never went back.
What happened? Apparently after their first session to which they were looking forward, they went home feeling soren, extremely tired and light-headed. The next day, both husband and wife experienced low back pains for a week. They had a fear of exercising after this bad experience.
Another lady client of mine faced similar chronic pains and light-headedness after her first Pilates session at a boutique fitness studio. She too had a fear of exercise after.
What’re the similarities in both my clients’ profiles?
All of them are over 40s and have been sedentary throughout their lives. Before picking up exercise, none of them could even bend over and touch their toes much less do a push-up or a half-moon raise kick. And yet, some of these fitness trends ask, without proper guidance, for demanding and dangerous feats of athleticism of a person who has spent most of his/her daily routine sitting in front of a computer.
It can be tempting to want to try all the new fitness classes available. However, the novelty and “expectation to see new workouts” at the expense of compromising form and safety – as well as over-training – can be detrimental to our health.
Why can't we just stick to proven traditional exercises?
Why the need to complicate exercise? The analogy is the same for investments. Why invest in something you don't understand and require a PhD in math? In many ways, today's fitness trends are just the 80's version of the discotheque: anorexic babes, sweaty guys on steroids, terrible music, and lots of innuendo.
Movement is movement. Our body does not know the difference between rolling on the ground and trance dancing. Playing a sport like badminton, tennis, playing frisbee with your buddies or simply walking more often creates plenty of movement and helps burn calories. And most of these activities are free-of-charge!
My personal favourite recommendation for the general population is doing simple bodyweight exercises both for strength and cardio. Full stop. None of those impractical copycat martial arts movements that can't swat a fly, or trance dancing and dipping yourself in grease.
Home-based bodyweight exercises are very effective. They don't cost a cent and can easily be performed anytime and anywhere and within the comforts of your home. As long as they are performed with good form and safety, basic bodyweight exercises are great workout tools for general fitness.
Good fitness programs involve frequency, intensity, type and time. You should be progressively adjusting those variables, not doing them all at once.
Move More. Stay Safe.
Gerald Tay is an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer. In 2010, he went from fat to fit and has never looked back since. At age 42, he appeals to peers over 40s-50s that everyone should achieve lifelong fitness by choice today than regret it later. Apart from fitness, he's also involved in successful property investments with a personal multi-million dollar property portfolio acquired since 2003. A major investment thinker, speaker for the local property scene and author for Real Estate is a Harsh Mistress, you can also visit him at www.crei-academy.com.