The Fitness Industry is a Scam

Politics and personal failings aside (and I hope folks will cut me slack in those areas too) I have always admired Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has a particularly good essay which is circulating social media and the news outlets about his struggle to get back into shape after a series of health setbacks. (And let's not forget, he is no spring chicken on top of his health issues.)

For me the two big takeaways in this essay are things I harp on consistently: 1) there are no hacks or shortcuts to physical fitness, it takes consistent practice over time 2) the fitness industry is sleazy. (As a friend once commented after looking at huckster/hackster Tim Ferriss's before and after photos in his book 4-Hour Body, "He needs a quite few more hours.")

In their 2009 book Body Panic Shari Dworkin and Faye Wachs discuss just how the fitness industry works. Among other things, it promotes images of "ideal" bodies for men and women. In the products it makes and in the magazines which the products are sold, the ordinary everyday body is presented as a problem (or collection of "problem areas") that proper consumer habits, the right products, supplements and gizmos, can solve. If these products and solutions actually worked, it would be one thing. But they don't. The Industry thrives on selling fake solutions to fix bad body images which they instilled in the first place. The last issue of Men's Health telling you how to get six pack abs has not been published.

Access to facilities is no longer an issue. Arnold points out in his essay there are nearly as many gyms in the USA as their are grocery stores. But 67% of gym members never go to the gym. (This is how commercial gyms make money, overselling memberships: they count on at least 50% of their members to never show up.)

But the thing is, you don't need a gym. Just make time to move. It can be almost anything. Walking, cycling, dancing, hiking etc. Just a little bit every day or so, it's the cumulative effect of small consistent efforts not the "one big moment" or weekend warrior mentality that makes the difference.

Of course the right gym (shameless plug here) can be a great motivator. You can make new friends, have a dedicated place to work out and programming: a structure for fulfillment and built in accountabil-a-buddies. If you don't know how, we'll show you.

Randy Hauer