Tag Archives: gym

10 Things I Hate About The Mainstream Fitness Industry

28 Oct

10. Jillian Michaels. Do I really have to say more?  The Biggest Loser co-star and fitness coach has built a career on “being tough” with her clients, to the point of constant criticism, verbal abuse and negative consequences. Working toward your health goals shouldn’t feel like you’re being put to death by a drill sergeant.  What’s worse, is young women look at someone like her and her “30 day shred” program or her magic protein drink recipes and believe that it will work for them; that all they have to do is some crazy workout until they puke, then chug a magic drink and they will be “fit” and “happy.” I think us ladies should have a more honest, positive, perspective-changing, less money-hungry role model.Huffington Post pic of Jillian Michaels

9. “I worked out today, so I earned my frosted cupcake!” mentality If you’re working out to “earn” your junk food, you’ve got it all wrong.  Rewarding oneself with food you typically deem as “unfit” for your body or see as a “cheat” is unhealthy; it leads to guilt, shame and can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and eating disorders. Rewarding yourself when you’ve accomplished your goal is healthy and normal, especially if the self-imposed reward further benfits your goals. Punishing yourself for not reaching your goal is not. And it’s nearly impossible to do one without the other. You wouldn’t cut off your big toe after you complete your 10k, would you? So why devour a sleeve of Oreos after your workout?


8. Men who go to the gym to stare at themselves in the mirror, or to stare at women working out (in a creepy, “I am going to follow you to your car” kind of way... I would love to be able to squat without a guy “stretching” on the mats behind me. I actually saw a guy pull out his phone while “stretching” behind an attractive, fit woman who was doing bent over rows. I tried to get closer to him to see if he was taking a picture, so I could call him out on it, but he put it away too fast. Creeper.

And I would love to be able to use this thick square foam pad for my weighted hip thrusters, but I ALWAYS have to wait for the same person to finish his bent-over crunches. He takes forever, because he uses the pad under his knees for about 10 seconds, then stands up and looks at himself in the mirror for 5 minutes before his next set. He sucks his cheeks in, lifts his chin, splays his shoulders, slyly flexes his calf muscle as he walks by the full-length mirrors, then looks up to make sure people notice him. We all know this guy. If I go into a gym, I want it to be one that he doesn’t go to!

American Psycho

Christian Bale in American Psycho, checking out his (amazing) bod while having sex

7. Gyms, in generalI have gone to the same gym for several years. I used to like it quite a bit- it wasn’t too busy, but busy enough to be entertaining and to see people. Plenty of weight equipment to use. And plus, I can just listen to my headphones and get into my own little world during my workout. Then they got rid of the kettle bells. Then the benches. Then all bars. Then any weights over 80 lbs. Oh, and they added an “ab circuit” right in the middle of the floor where I used to do crawls, squat walks, weighted carries, etc. On my last visit to this gym, I was using the foam roller when an older woman gave me a hideously dirty look and nodded toward the sign that says, “ab circuits, only.” I guess I was on her “swing my knees to better abs” turf.

6. Fad races where people consume copious amounts of alcohol before, during and after the event.  
Running a 12 mile obstacle course with a camel pack full of bud light doesn’t make you a “tough mud runner.” It makes you an idiot. Congratulations, though. You have managed to turn a fun, dirty, outdoor, natural movement, comradery-building event into yet another frat party.

5. Boot Camps. Prescribed workouts for large groups of (beginner) people do not make sense. If you have a room full of strangers who all have different abilities, limitations, goals and strength levels, how can it make sense to have everyone doing the same workout, the same number of reps, with the same distant trainer, with the same parameters? I went to a class with a friend. This friend could not do 1 good push up. The “trainer” had her do 5 sets of 10 push ups throughout a warm up. Yes, a warm up. What is a max effort for my friend, was a prescribed warm up from the trainer. Needless to say, she couldn’t drive, dress herself or drink without a straw for a good 4 days. So how much better was she at her push up (or anything else) in the end?…

4. Encouragement of mindless movement.  Every now and then, I’ll pick up a “fitness” magazine and browse through it. The past couple of times, there were articles aimed at “ways to workout without knowing it!” It suggested things like reading a book while riding a stationary bike, or getting a treadmill for your standing desk so you can walk and type at the same time. Bad ideas! I could go on and on here, but Barbara from Sex, Food & Kettlebells posted this brilliantly-worded post on Facebook about the desk treadmills. I am copying and pasting a bit of her post about why this is a bad idea, here:

  • sensory mismatch from working and using a treadmill = increased physiological stress and overall threat level = suppressed metabolism + decreased cognitive function (read: poor memory, sequencing, etc) + increased risk of injury + increased risk of experiencing chronic pain.
  • increased risk of visual and vestibular disorders (ie vertigo) from sensory mismatch = metabolic issues.
  • decreased productivity and effectiveness of both activities.
  • neurally chunking work + walking = a terrible idea
  • over training (need I say more?!)
  • decreased posterior chain activation from using a treadmill (read as: saggy bootay)
  • impaired sleep.
  • impaired gait = increased physiological stress = increased risk of injury + cognitive degeneration

If you want to “work out without feeling like you’re working out”- go for a hike. Enjoy the outdoors. Play with your kids (or someone else’s, with their permission, of course!) Play on the monkey bars, climb a tree, crawl, play a sport…

new york times

3. Women who are afraid to lift weights because they don’t want to get “bulky.”  I’ve had the pleasure of working with lots of different women- all of different sizes and goals. One thing that I have heard, often, is “I want to use the small kettlebells, so I don’t get bulky!” Ugh.

Penn State researchers split a group of women up into three groups: one with no exercise, one with aerobic exercise only and one with aerobic exercise AND weight training. The results showed that all of the women lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t use weights. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle. Statements from the participants noted that the women who lifted reported being more pleased with the visible results. Weight-bearing movements and resistance training also allow women to build stronger bones, helping to ward off osteoporosis and other degenerative diseases that women are prone to getting as they age.


Female body builder.
She did not get this from kettlebells.


Marianne Kane; myomytv.com and Get Glutes
She DID get this from kettlebells!

Lifting also helps to boost your metabolism. When you lift versus, say, go for a run, your body stays in fat-burning mode for longer. Your body temperature stays increased and your muscle fibers are burning calories while they repair themselves.

2. Internet memes that tell us that “pain is worth the victory” or “if it doesn’t hurt, you’re not working hard enough!
These drive be bonkers! Pain is a signal. A signal that something is wrong. It is telling you to stop doing what you are doing. Sure, there is some discomfort sometimes when pushing yourself through a workout- your muscles burn, your body is tight, your muscles are tired, etc. That is to be expected. But pushing oneself to the extreme limits to hit an arbitrary number or time? I guess it depends on your goals. Although I don’t know many people whose ultimate goal is complete physical ruin into their later adulthood.


Overtraining is a major issue in the fitness industry. Torn ligaments, joint degeneration, bone spurs and not taking the proper time to recover can lead to depression, stress disorders, adrenal fatigue, lasting injuries, immobility, and disc issues.

These photos are littered throughout my social media newsfeeds, boards and walls. I stumbled upon this facetious photo collection and it made me chuckle- TAKE A LOOK to see just how silly these “fitspiration” quotes are when put to different pictures!

1. That there is a need for it to begin with! We, as humans, have literally forgotten how to live. We stand with poor posture. We can’t stand for long because we get tired, so we sit. On couches. And slouch. We sleep on padded, spring beds and use pillows that crank our necks. We work at a desk for 8 hours, sitting in a chair with a pad on our lower backs for “lumbar support.” We walk in high heels or heeled loafers, but add padding to the arches of our feet because it helps with “support.” We live our lives fractally- 30 minutes, three times per week is dedicated to “working out” and the rest is spent trying to figure out ways we can park as close as possible at the grocery store so we don’t have to walk far. Everyone needs a trainer, a magazine, a fitness buddy, motivation and inspiration. We have to have a “[insert fad here] is the new skinny” mentality. Don’t get me wrong- I enjoy a good workout; I like the challenge, the feeling that my body is working hard, the feeling I get when I complete something that was difficult. But I don’t like that I have to wade through people in a crowded gymor join a 10,000+ member race sponsored by a beer company to subscribe to an “accepted” way of doing so.

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