The biggest disservice to the public has been the irresponsible, self serving marketing by segments of the fitness industry to the masses of needing constant and drastic variety paired with a mind numbing amount of choices in order to get to their fitness goals. So many gyms and fitness trainers literally trip over each other in trying to “out variety” one another offering hundreds of slapped together exotically named classes and outlandishly ill conceived and rushed exercise programs.
This flawed fitness premise is often further compounded when gym management/trainers layer mindless exercises and movements in these programs. Add to this the disingenuous hyping of questionable fitness gadgets, gimmicks and over engineered exercise machines to further confuse the hell out of your average fitness trainee and you will understand the overblown effectiveness of “popular” fitness methodologies.
If all of this haphazard variety married to an infinite amount of choices is so great which the average exerciser is led to believe, then why do we still have one of the most unfit and injury prone moving populations on the planet?
So Why Is All This Fitness Variety Being Aggressively Pushed On the Public?
Yes, there is truth to needing “variety” in your training to progress in your fitness goals, but not to the drastic, counterproductive levels most would have you believe in order to fit their marketing narrative or overzealous fitness philosophies. I will explain my take on variety a little later. But first, why do so many gyms and fitness instructors over hype and distort this concept to the masses?
You need to understand that gyms invest a lot of money into various lines of fitness machines and equipment seemingly more concerned with choosing flashy apparatus that facilitate a marketing opportunity to create a “buzz” or “sexy” image for the masses to ooh and aah over than provide actual fitness value. Gyms have a lot of overhead to pay for each month. So they need to cast a wide net and drag as many bodies onto their monthly automatic billing rolls as possible by whatever marketing gimmick gets the most attention and resonates with the public’s deep emotional desires and insecurities. Irregardless if this marketing message is beneficial or true.
Gyms also have fitness class floor space they are paying for and they are desperate to put “asses in classes” to keep these spaces filled by whatever means necessary. So what gyms have figured out is to first state in their emotionally charged marketing blitz that you the fitness trainee need constant, drastic exercise variety, to confuse your muscles into oblivion and never repeat an exercise session to get any results at all as if it were an indisputable fact.
Once gyms have you hooked on this concept they have taken to the extreme and blown out of proportion, it becomes easy to woo the public into their facility and onto their monthly billing cycle. Most get so overwhelmed and frustrated by this constant variety blitz with no rhyme or reason usually backed by ridiculous exercise programming with little redeeming value that they soon throw in the towel and leave- often more frustrated than when they began.
That’s ok since most gyms will be more than happy to keep billing you in your absence and besides this gives them a great opportunity to woo more fitness cattle to occupy the space you used to take up but probably still pay for!
Hack trainers, Hollywood type fitness phonies and exercise class instructors are guilty of this too. Whether it be from taking their marching orders from the gym owners or they are just too lazy, inept and just don’t know any better. Or they are just dishonorable marketing whores themselves telling the low information exercise public what they want to hear – not what they need to hear to succeed.
I’m not against some charged up marketing to get people excited about fitness, but make sure that the fitness program is rooted in reality and delivers value – not just hype and glitz backed by hot air and zero substance.
It saddens me that few in this industry have figured out how to market, promote, responsibly educate and excite fitness enthusiasts on meaningful fitness methodologies that are sound, sustainable, repeatable and produce results. There are a lot of good fitness folks out there capable of carrying the fitness banner forward-I just hope their message can rise above all the confusing noise and nonsense currently dominating the fitness industry.
Don’t Get Sucked Into The Variety Vortex
I can’t tell you how many well intentioned trainees I have witnessed get sucked into this counterproductive cycle of chasing constant variety. They will bounce between disconnected exercises and programs with such frequency they don’t give themselves time to learn key concepts or stay engaged long enough in a program to experience a productive exercise flow before hysterically jumping to the next different thing. I have rarely witnessed anybody getting any decent results chasing constant, drastic and mindless fitness variety.
What I have witnessed is a lot of trainees experience frustration at their lack of results and the local physical therapy offices appointment backlogs swell as this course of action seems to increase injuries which reverse any fitness gain. It also promotes stress, anxiety and a backward march away from one’s fitness goals. Do you think it is a coincidence there are so many physical therapy facilities in operation today? There is an old saying which applies here: “She or he who is everywhere is nowhere.”
Choose A Rational Fitness Program Over A Radical One
Just to be clear, I am not against fitness variety – only haphazard and thoughtless variety with an emphasis on jumping between unrelated, usually low value fitness programs, questionable gadgets and the newest exercise machine that forces your body out of its natural planes of movement and disconnects your brain and body from their ideal movement environment. Some of this crazy and radical variety being dreamed up by gyms and fitness trainers is better suited to those who want a career in the circus or like some of those dreamed up daring stunts practiced on the old Jackass tv show and movies.
If you truly want to maximize your precious time, accelerate toward your worthy fitness goals and get the results you desire, I advocate incorporating variety as follows. First, make sure you choose and participate in a quality fitness program that incorporates sane, yet challenging exercise progressions and regressions tailored to your fitness level. And please be realistic in your choices.
For example, the gung ho average trainee who jumps into a fitness program or “bootcamp” designed to replicate Navy Seal or Army Ranger training is just asking for a disappointing beat down and trip to the hospital with no results to show for their misplaced efforts. So try to demonstrate a little self awareness and choose a fitness program for your level that will position you for earned success.
The True Fitness Value Is In The Programming
Remember, any buffoon in the fitness industry can throw together a sequence of exercises to run you unproductively ragged, carelessly flash fry your precious central nervous system, make you as sore as a walking bruise and tire the hell out of you which isn’t the way to go, folks. If you are one of those crazed adrenaline junkie types who thrives on mindless action and thumbs your nose at the notion of tempered, sane and productive training- then by all means go wild! You don’t have to let me know how you make out as I know the road to ruin you are headed for. But to experience lasting fitness success, the real value is having the ability to effectively program your fitness workout from session to session that is safe, sustainable, keeps you progressing, incorporates recovery and restoration strategies, a sliding intensity component and doesn’t just irresponsibly tire you out and tear you down.
This does not mean you are not to be challenged – In fact, you should feel pretty invigorated, robust and mentally and physically capable after a training session if it is designed and programmed properly. That’s exactly how I feel after my training sessions and I get the same feedback from the successful folks who have participated in the workouts I design. A lot of folks think a “good” workout is one where their body is pounded into oblivion to the point they need to crawl out of the gym and puke in the parking lot just to get to their car. That’s just a crazy and counterproductive way to train, my friends. If you or your fitness trainer can’t effectively program a workout either learn how from somebody who knows or find a new trainer or gym that does.
Practice Meaningful Variety For Fitness Success
Now what you want to do is purposefully layer variety within your fitness program for maximum fitness goal achievement . And not just any variety, but meaningful and productive variety. Productive variety means you are just tweaking your training variables within your chosen exercise program. These variables can include load(how much weight used), body positioning when performing an exercise, rest intervals, repetition schemes and the degree of time under tension you impose on your body. You can also layer productive variety into your program by assigning different training intensities to your workout sessions. For example, rotating between high, medium and light intensity training days gives your body the right amount of adaption stress and built in active recovery for your body to realize ideal fitness gains.
And here’s another fitness gem to nail to the back of your brain – always listen to your body! If I had a high intensity workout planned and I just felt like utter crap that day for whatever reason and my strength and energy were lacking – that’s my body telling me to adjust my activity. Now in extreme cases I would just bag the training session if I was pretty sick or just totally spent, but usually I would just switch to a lower intensity workout or maybe just do mobility exercises or even take a hike. This holds for the other end of the spectrum as well. If I was scheduled for a light intensity day and I showed up feeling so robust like I could lasso the moon and pull it toward the earth, I may kick up the intensity a bit since my body is telling me it has energy to spare. While it’s great practice to follow a written training schedule, be more concerned with listening to what your body is telling you it is capable of doing on a particular day and not rigidly adhering to what a piece of paper or clueless hack trainer is telling you to do.
When Overwhelming Fitness Variety And Choice Is Everywhere, What Should You Do?
Just make sure you are performing the most productive exercise movements proven to successfully drive you to your fitness goals. Read my post on the essential exercises to include in your fitness program for examples if you are serious about achieving results. You don’t need extremely intense variety to progress well and get your desired fitness results. You just need to impose just enough training stress to signal your body to create an adaptation to compensate and improve. This improvement adaptation can mean getting stronger, ramping up your metabolism to burn optimal calories or increasing your conditioning/endurance among some of the more profound metabolic effects. Most run with this concept and go way overboard with the training intensity figuring if a little bit is good for progress then a lot will be better -WRONG!
While I am always happy to see others get ramped up to get fit, please temper that enthusiasm and don’t go too intense too quick or all the time. Take the long view and fight the urge to blitz your body into submission out of the starting gate. Earn your way to those more challenging and intense training sessions, but listen to what your body is telling you and err on the side of backing off the intensity accelerator as you progress. I have witnessed and spoke to so many folks who sabotaged their fitness success and got hurt, frustratingly knocking themselves right off the path of getting any meaningful results when they ramped up the intensity too quick and too often.
The Bottom Line
Pick a rational, sustainable and productive training program. Make sure it consists of mainly movements from my essential exercises list linked to above. Stick with the program and give it time to work. Listen to your body. And above all, stop chasing mindless and haphazard fitness variety constantly!
Stay Well! Take Action! Be Consistent! Train and Eat Smart! Get Rid of the Drains and Pains in Your Life! Value your loved ones and friends and get out and have some active, safe fun!
“There’s a Sparkle in my Eyes and Iron in my Thighs!”
Seven Stars Fitness