The Massive Fitness Trend That’s Not Actually Healthy at All

The world can be a crazy place, we all know that. And giving in to the fear that is endlessly manufactured by the media is a constant temptation on the path to fitness greatness. It’s also true that sometimes sh!t gets real, and we need to be prepared to adapt instantly. Why? Because…

Life Is a Battle!

But (and it’s a big fat booty butt) just because life is a battle doesn’t mean you have to destroy yourself every time you go to the gym. Any serious athlete knows that rest, recovery, and periodization (smartly modifying intensity based on goals, performance, and ability) are absolutely crucial to optimal performance (aka kicking ass).

There is a massive trend in the fitness industry to glorify exercise as an all-out war on the body. I call it the militarization of fitness—all the boot camps, Marine-inspired workouts, ridiculously intense body building routines, and general glorification of pain. Even our recovery and regeneration techniques are prioritized by how painful they are. (Got a knot in your hip flexor? Go roll that sh!t with a baseball!)

This trend is a symptom of a much larger disease. We live in a culture obsessed with aggression, and it has found its way into every facet of our lives, even our workouts.

Exhaustion Is Not a Status Symbol

Well, exhaustion actually is a status symbol in our culture. And that’s the problem—we’re working and training ourselves to death. From a young age, we’re bombarded with the message that to be successful, we must work overtime, sacrifice our health, friends, even happiness and sanity to achieve what we want.

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Being chronically exhausted is not the key to success. It’s a race toward disease and dysfunction. And in most cases, it causes suffering that is 100 percent preventable. Some people, like Dr. Meyer Freidman, the doctor who first identified the type-A personality trait, calls this western disease “the hurry sickness.”

We never say things like “I bet I can experience kidney failure before you!” But that’s how many of us behave. Even in the fitness industry, there are tons of people who look strong on the outside and are weak as sh!t on the inside. And do you know what we call them? Leaders. Because other people pay them good money to inherit their same warped and superficial understanding of fitness.

Our ‎cultural pathology can be summed up pretty easily: too much yang, not enough yin; too much doing, not enough being; too much work, not enough play; too masculine, not enough feminine.

How Does the Militarization of Fitness Affect Your Workout?

In every way possible. It affects your health, happiness, the sustainability of your program, and your ability to reach your goals.

Do you believe any of the following are true?

  • No pain, no gain. You have to suffer to get in shape.
  • More is always more. Duh.
  • Working out is not fun, but it’s an obligation.
  • If I don’t almost throw up, I’m holding back too much.
  • You’re only as good as your last workout.
  • I feel like a loser when I miss a workout.

If you answered yes, then you’re at the “exercise is war” understanding of fitness. And that’s fine—if you want to wage war on your body, go ahead. Many of us go through that phase. I spent a decade there, with plenty of joint casualties and war stories to prove it. So I’m not belittling you—I’m just saying that this isn’t the only way to train, and it sure as heck isn’t sustainable. And if you can benefit from my experience and mistakes, that would be swell.

So What’s the Other Option?

Well, there are many options. But one of them is to decide that learning about the body and what it takes to nourish, strengthen, and heal it is a lifelong process, adventure, exploration, and privilege, not a burdensome obligation, nor a military operation.

There are plenty of people who love dancing and dance their way to a new body. Others get a deep satisfaction out of practicing martial arts and kung fu their way to super fitness glory. Then there are the yogis, who use movement as a way to manifest their bodies greatness.

None of these perspectives are right or wrong, but they’re all worthy of being explored if you truly want a sustainable, comprehensive, and balanced movement practice. Depth and breadth of perspective, my friends. That’s why you’re here, reading this post and not one of those cheesy, superficial robot fitness sites.

Using Intensity Wisely and Normalizing Discomfort

There is a huge difference between using intensity wisely and using intensity compulsively. To reach your fitness goals, you will need to confront your limits and learn to handle discomfort. So don’t use this post as an excuse to take it easy all the time. In fact, that’s just as much of a trap as working out hard all the time.

Find the middle ground. Be OK with discomfort, and learn to interpret your body’s language, sensations, and signals, so you know which days you can/should push and which days you need to back off and recover. This is something you can’t outsource, and the better you get at listening to how your body feels, the easier it is to train hard, reach your goals, and avoid injuries and disease.

I Wonder…

Are you willing to destroy your body to look super hot at age 30? Or are you willing to take a deeper look, explore the “less is more” philosophy, let go of your “no pain no gain” programming, and let your health, strength, and goals evolve in a natural way so that you’re having new adventures and movement experiences well into your 90s?

All health and fitness goals require sustained motivation. It’s an adventure, not a destination, and you’ll enjoy the adventure way more if you make it your own instead of following the herd.

Now drop and give me 20 push-ups!

This post was was written by Jonathan Angelilli and was originally published on TrainDeep. Jonathan is many things: recovered addict, peaceful warrior, celebrity trainer, elite athlete, successful writer, humble teacher, loving student. Above all, he is an Exercise Alchemist™, someone who is passionate about the power of holistic exercise to transform you into the best version of yourself, and to transform the entire world.

Hope you enjoyed this article,

Coach Rob

13 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

This is an Article by Sophia Breene @ Greatist 

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Many people hit the gym or pound the pavement to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle, and of course, get a rockin’ bod, but working out has above-the-neck benefits, too. For the past decade or so, scientists have pondered how exercising can boost brain function. Regardless of age or fitness level (yup, this includes everyone from mall-walkers to marathoners), studies show that making time for exercise provides some serious mental benefits. Get inspired to exercise by reading up on these unexpected ways that working out can benefit mental health, relationships, and lead to a healthier and happier life overall.

  1. Reduce stress. Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. Win-win!
  2. Boost happy chemicals. Slogging through a few miles on the ‘mill can be tough, but it’s worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, docs recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety (or those who are just feeling blue) pencil in plenty of gym time. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression. Don’t worry if you’re not exactly the gym rat type — getting a happy buzz from working out for just 30 minutes a few times a week can instantly boost overall mood.
  3. Improve self-confidence. Hop on the treadmill to look (and more importantly, feel) like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender, or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth. How’s that for feeling the (self) love?
  4. Enjoy the great outdoors. For an extra boost of confidence, take that workout outside. Exercising in the great outdoors can increase self-esteem even more. Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, renting a canoe, or just taking a jog in the park. Plus, all that Vitamin D acquired from soaking up the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course!) can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms. Why book a spa day when a little fresh air, sunshine and exercise can work wonders for self-confidence and happiness?
  5. Prevent cognitive decline. It’s unpleasant, but it’s true — as we get older, our brains get a little… hazy. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the noggin actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t cure Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive declinethat begins after age 45. Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.
  6. Alleviate anxiety. The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders. Hopping on the track or treadmill for some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise (intervals, anyone?) can reduce anxiety sensitivity. And we thought intervals were just a good way to burn calories!
  7. Boost brainpower. Those buff lab rats might be smarter than we think. Various studies on miceand men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (aka neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Studies also suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning. Smarty (spandex) pants, indeed.
  8. Sharpen memory. Regular physical activity also boosts memory and ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in hippocampus responsible for memory and learning. For this reason, research has linked children’s brain development with level of physical fitness (take that, recess haters!). But exercise-based brainpower isn’t just for kids. Even if it’s not as fun as a game of Red Rover, working out can boost memory among grown-ups, too. A study showed that running sprints improved vocabulary retention among healthy adults.
  9. Help control addiction. The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, be that exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol, or food. Unfortunately, some people become addicted to dopamine and dependent on the substances that produce it. On the bright side, exercise can help in addiction recovery.
  10. Increase relaxation. Ever hit the hay after a long run or weight session at the gym? For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep.
  11. Get more done. Feeling uninspired in the cubicle? The solution might be just a short walk or jog away. Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers.
  12. Tap into creativity. Most people end a tough workout with a hot shower, but maybe we should be breaking out the colored pencils instead. A heart-pumping gym session can boost creativityfor up to two hours afterwards. Supercharge post-workout inspiration by exercising outdoors and interacting with nature (see benefit #4). Next time you need a burst of creative thinking, hit the trails for a long walk or run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time.
  13. Inspire others.  Whether it’s a pick-up game of soccer, a group class at the gym, or just a run with a friend, studies show that most people perform better on aerobic tests when paired up with a workout buddy. Pin it to inspiration or good old-fashioned competition, nobody wants to let the other person down. In fact, being part of a team is so powerful that it can actually raise athletes’ tolerances for pain. Even fitness beginners can inspire each other to push harder during a sweat session, so find a workout buddy and get moving!

Working out can have positive effects far beyond the gym. Gaining self-confidence, getting out of a funk, and even thinking smarter are some of the motivations to take time for exercise on a regular basis.

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