There is a gross fallacy in the fitness world.
If you’ve ever watched a fitness
tape DVD BluRay program, I’m sure you’ve figured out at least three things:
- Everyone smiles in fitness videos…ergo…
- No one cries in fitness videos….ergo…
- Robots & androids occupy 99% of fitness videos.
(The other 1% of “people” in these videos supplied the yoga mats and smoothie shakers. Or, fainted/puked/died.)
One of my favorite fitness icons to watch is Jillian Michaels. Not because she’s particularly inspiring or convivial. Nay, most fitness gurus rub me in the wrong way (probably because they appear as cheery on TV as I do when I’m allowed to mix in cheesecake with my Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard).
I own a few of Ms. Michaels’ programs because they’re incredibly worthwhile. If you’re looking for a 30 minute video that will get your heart racing faster than a Clydesdale on Derby Day, then take a look into her fitness empire. One of my particular favorites is her Killer Abs DVD. It comes with 3 different workouts to keep you interested, which is great because I tend to have Workout ADHD if I repeat the same routine over and over again.
Now, the fitness fallacy that I was referring to earlier in this post can be succinctly captured in this screenshot:
In this case, the woman holding her leg in the air is the fallacy. Jillian (the woman on the right) is the rest of the logical world. In most workout tapes, the ensemble of fitness buffs all sport wide, shining smiles that are too legit to quit. Take a look at the woman above: she has clearly lost her mind because no one…I mean no one…is THAT happy about lifting their leg higher than their navel. And the best part? She’s still smiling after doing probably 57 of these Leg Lifts of Doom. No average person (except maybe a Rockette, and they’re getting paid for their frantic choreographed karate) is able to finish a fitness program without some good, old-fashioned grunting and wheezing.
I think this is where fitness DVDs fail a beginning exerciser. We’re show a group of happy people holding a plank for 27 minutes and we’re led to believe that this task is easy for them. In reality, fitness tapes are thrown together from numerous cuts and edits. The exercisers on screen have breaks, much like a line change in hockey. Yes, I get that fitness tapes have to present a united front that their workout is the happiest workout on the planet. But, then again, this might by why I enjoy watching Insanity tapes.
Insanity is simultaneously one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever attempted and one of the more realistic. If you look intensely at the faces in the video, you’ll realize that they are working their butts off. There are NOT a lot of happy faces to be found in this crowd, and this is only the promo video. These people I actually believe are real, genuine fitness buffs.
I want a workout video that shows the grit, the sweat, and above all else, the challenge. I want to know the people on TV are struggling, just as much as I am when I give up on squats (seriously, the worst exercise ever created).
I run. This is my punishment of choice. And even though I love it, there are days where I hate it. To be honest, I think I’ve felt that elusive runner’s high once out of the dozens of races I’ve participated in. It lasted for a good ten seconds before I started dreaming about doughnuts (it was a long race, I needed inspiration). I think non-runners assume that runners always thrive off of an early morning run, or a long, tough marathon. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sometimes, my runs suck. Sometimes, for no reason whatsoever, I’m tired after 5 minutes. If you’re trying to get into running, please know that it’s not always a walk through the park.
With any workout regime, you have to recognize moments where you may need to stop. To be healthy and fit, you don’t need to commit a portion of your day, every day, to a DVD of all smiles and no reality. The most important thing when beginning a workout regimen is to listen to your body. Hate running? Don’t force yourself into it. Have bad knees? Maybe try biking.
When we don’t listen to our instincts, injuries can occur. In October, I dealt with my very first stress fracture. This is coming from someone who has never broken a bone in their entire life. So, when my right foot began radiating sharp pain while running, I thought it was my new shoes.
I ignored the pain for about a month, because, as the old adage suggests, “No pain, no gain.” I thought I had to push on, because I truly didn’t know I was running on an injury. My mentality is what prevented me from healing quicker, and my physical experience didn’t know any better.
When I did stop, it took me a long 10 weeks to let my foot heal and mend. No running, no yoga. The only thing I was allowed to do was the sit-down bike, which is about as pleasant as sitting in rush hour traffic (and you don’t move anywhere).
As I began a return to running in January, I had learned a few things:
- Time off from exercise won’t kill you. Chances are your body needed the time to recover anyways.
- I missed running because I couldn’t do it. This made me more excited to get back into it.
- Taking 10 weeks off SUCKS for your endurance, but better to take it slow then too fast to risk re-injury.
If you’re on the verge of adding physical activity to your life, remember: you don’t always have to give 150%. Heck, you don’t always have to give even 100%, because who’s perfect all the time? Even if you give 10%, that’s still 10% more if you had sat on the couch instead. Find your own starting point, and listen to your body…not some overly cheerful fitness guru with millions of dollars.
Sometimes, you have to stop…to turn around, make a U-turn, and get back in the right direction.