I want to take the time to talk about some observations regarding a common message being preached nowadays in mainstream fitness. Fitness is currently being presented as a means to an end of skinny waists, tight butts, and toned muscles. This works for some but many people are experiencing burnout and injury.
"Lose 7 pounds in just 7 days!" and just “Sweat off the Sizes!”. Bootcamps, high intensity workouts, and running programs driven by these flashy claims are VERY popular today. Lots of people are doing these programs and seeing amazing results. Pounds are being lost, muscles are being toned, and pant sizes are dropping. Jillian Michaels has even helped people lose 3,793,086 pounds! That's amazing!
However, I believe this approach to fitness has the potential to be harmful for people in the long run. These messages reduce exercise/fitness down to a means to an end of weight reduction, smaller waists, and toned muscles...which aren't necessarily good measures of health. Even NBA superstars have figured this out.
There are two common themes that are a result of viewing exercise & fitness as simply a means to an end: 1) Burnout & 2) Susceptibility to injury.
Lots of people enjoy the results of fitness (weight loss, toned muscles, tight butts, etc.) but dread the process of it, resulting in expired gym memberships and equipment/DVD's collecting dust on the shelf. Movement and exercise often become a chore to get results rather than a choice that is enjoyed.
As a physical therapist, I'm thankful I've had the opportunity to work with people who have been stripped of their ability to move. I say this because they have helped me see that my ability to stand on my own two feet is an absolute miracle and gift that is to be enjoyed and used well. A person with a spinal chord injury who can't move from the waist down yearns to have the joy of being able to walk with their spouse. A grandfather with a stroke yearns to have the joy to be able to squat down to pick up their grandchild. Movement is a gift and a blessing that can bring great joy, be used for amazing things, and can also be stripped from you in the blink of an eye. If we valued movement in this manner, why would we every stop moving?
Additionally, it seems burnout can occur from people simply doing what they think they have to do to get the results that they want. A good example of this is often seen inthe running culture. Many people HATE running but feel it's what they have to do to lose weight. That can't be further from the truth. Running CAN help people lose weight, but certainly isn't the only way. You don't even need to exercise to lose weight. It may be better to incorporate movement that we actually enjoy so movement becomes a sustainable habit instead of a 4 week fad. Then we may actually enjoy the "means"/process that will get us to the "end"/results that we desire. Our fitness routine could be more like play instead of misery.
2) Susceptibility to injury
If someone is going to exercise or move at a higher intensity level, movement quality needs to be valued and perfected. When the "end" (or results) is the sole focus and not the "means" (or process), the quality of movement can often become compromised in order to increase the quantity of movement.
Let's give a common scenario found in some (not all) bootcamp style fitness classes. Greg comes in to "burn some calories" in order to lose weight. Today's workout includes push-ups. However, Greg can't do a push-up well, let alone a plank, and he's not going to tell the instructor because he's embarrassed that the 70 y.o. grandpa beside him can do push-ups for days. Greg goes hard during the workout and the instructor doesn't see his poor form because they're screaming at 20 other people. Greg hurts his shoulder and ends up going to see a physical therapist or chiropractor ultimately keeping them in business. Here's the point...repeated movements performed poorly will lead to injury and poor performance.
Let this tweet and suggestion sink in...
To sum it up...
Try and avoid viewing fitness as a chore and learn to love the "means" that gets you the "end" you desire. Enjoy your ability to move, learn to move well, and move in ways that bring you joy.