Saturday, December 7, 2013

Concluding, "The Fitness Industry is Dead"

While I've not really directly addressed many key points in this article and opted to say what I think are the reasons why the industry itself is dead in the sense its ineffective, I think that the article itself is great because it's a  much needed sense of introspection for anyone involved in this subculture.  There are no shortage of rants out there about why the McFitness industry sucks but not a whole lot of the root problems.  This author had his thoughts well-laid out why things don't work.  I don't agree and I have mine. 

In the past two entries, I've identified my two, large problems:  lack of good information and far-less than ideal people disseminating it.  There is a third and final problem that I see with the industry and I've pondered this problem for quite some time how to word it properly:  the people that the fitness industry is selling to.   I wonder how this industry will continue to exist in the larger culture it's part of. 

Oddly enough, my two favorite blogs to read about strength training are intensely different from one-another.  The first is Chaos and Pain.  The Second is Body Tribe.   The latter does about a good of a job reaching out to the 85% discussed in the last entry as anyone in the subculture.  The former generally could care less if they come along or fall off a cliff...their choice. 

I can see the logic of both points of view and how neither will particularly work well to get people moving properly.  While the inspiration of this article delves into the psychological aspects of how to get people physically right, I generally disregard such a direction.  Yes, people have emotional issues that hold them back from being better movers.  Still, people long ago had these issues and they didn't become diseased, eating-disordered sloths because they weren't happy.  Clearly something has changed and that change is that people become this way because they can.  I said it in the first entry and it probably explains most of why the fitness industry doesn't work:  the larger culture sabotages it.  Our societies give people the option to remain weak, lazy, dumb to the facts, and they don't have to listen to what us 15% say about getting moving.  If you're reading this then chances are that you are the aforementioned 15% and you're here because you want to be here. 

Am I the only one who despise that these were even thought up?
Let's face the grim reality:  like I mentioned before, we've figured out how to live long and unhealthy.  We've mastered drugs and surgery to the point were we can keep a body that should die from lack of proper function alive with our health care system.  If you HAD no other choice but to lose the unhealthy weight and move in a manner that keeps your body strong and healthy then you'd do so.  If the 20th century had a list of bad notions, near the top of that piece of paper would be the idea that if we moved less, we'd be happier.  In theory, it sounded like a good idea if you consider that humankind spent most of the previous 10,000 years abusively laboring ourselves to death.  Sitting down most of the time must have seemed like a pretty good idea circa 1900.  It clearly wasn't. 
Yeah, I bet they would have opted for a desk job too!

What's also happened to people that makes getting them to accept fitness is another larger issue that we may have all noticed but not really been able to put into words.  With things like this, we have to be open-minded to all sources of information so that we can find the right way to put this into words.  I happened to find it while researching knife fighting on Youtube.  Even if you have no interest in the subject, just scroll ahead to 12.10 and pay attention...

Linking that sort of pervasive, cultural restlessness explains a lot of things wrong.  So, our world largely relies on distraction from the problem at hand.  That's probably why too many need some sort of constant feed of entertainment to get through the day.  Relative to the discussion I've articulated, it explains why gyms these days just don't get things done. 
Look at most modern gyms and you'll see a massive collection of machines and they all tell you how to move.  You don't really have to think about the moves you want to do, how to set up your body posture properly, how to execute.  All you have to do is sit a chair, adjust some padding, and let hinges dictate your movement pattern.   While you're moving, they give you televisions and music to move to.  The fitness industry has just continued to extrapolate on the lack of imagination and continues to feed the restlessness.
I may have identified a cause for that...
I'd be willing to bet big money that promoting a break from that would net more results.  Good work in a gym is time spent in our own world, deep in introspection, and often times being creative with what we're doing.  If the fitness clubs as we know them are nothing more than another conformist distraction, then like every other chunk of bullshit entertainment, people won't stick by it for very long. 
You could say that's the fault of the fitness industry itself.   The industry as we know it in the USA had the misfortune of coming of age in the same time period where we really took getting fat and restless into double-overdrive.  So, were they simply catering to a demand? 
Personally, I just have a hard time buying it.  I'm going to venture into the usually murky waters of personal experience.  That can be troublesome since personal experience is too often devoid of objective introspection.  People aren't known for looking at personal experience and saying, "I did that wrong", nearly as much as they should. 
In my case, I tried the gym world when I was a teenager.  I used Cybex machines and running stuff.  I didn't stick with any of it.  I wanted strength but I wasn't getting answers that I wanted.  So, I went out and I looked for it.  I didn't stop until I found it either.  If people demanded the truth out of the fitness industry, someone would provide it.   They wouldn't accept being stuck. 
Of course, I don't expect the fitness industry to actually go the way of the buggy-making business just yet.  I just don't expect it to suddenly become truly effective any time soon.  These past three entries represent my reasoning as to why don't think it will.  Ultimately, the first two won't get solved until the bigger problems with the society that the gym rat world inhabits gets repaired and demands better out of the business.  

1 comment:

Zhan Hao Mak said...

Great post man! I've been following your post and exercises for a while, but this the first time I'm commenting.

While I agree with basically your key points, I'd want to point out one thing.

Deep introspection when training at the gym? That's like say calorie-free food. It doesn't exist IMO.

Introspection is critical to improvement, gains and most importantly safety; too many people aren't just aware of it, they even actively distract themselves from it.

Most people go to the gym because they were told they have to. Just as many go because they don't want to be labelled a "tub o' lard". They don't know what they should do, and just do what they are told (regardless of the appropriateness of the advice) or mimic what they see on TV.

Like you mentioned, many others go and depend on machines or coaches to tell them what they ought to do. Heck, I've even met and helped people that don't do basic research before they hit the machines. "Pile on 100 pounds on the smith machine you say? Yeah why not, it'll impress the ladies".

Even with a coach, people are looking for an easy way out.

From just casually seeing people at the gym, I can cite so many examples of why a gym is the worst place to get fit. There're the pervs staring at the ladies doing aerobics, the narcissist staring at their bodies in the mirrors instead of using it for form observation, the grunts and show-offs doing anything to get attention.

I joined a gym to get fit, take responsibility for my own health and use equipment that I thought were essential (I've since migrated to BW, HIIT and starting to include kettlebells), but I've come to realise that most people at the gym don't even know what they should be doing, pumping iron without form, not following a program, or worst just listening to so-and-so friend who knows just as little as they do.

For some the fitness industry isn't just dead. It has failed the people it was meant to help, and has dragged them down like a dead-weight to the bottom of the ocean.