The fitness industry is broken in fact it’s fucked!!!
Training for the average person has become overly influenced by bodybuilders and biggest loser style tv shows. Progress is measured by aesthetics rather then performance and this often has a negative effect on the average client, physically and more importantly mentally.
The UK has thousands of gyms, thousands of personal trainers and nutrition gurus and yet we still have a obesity crisis, we still have chronic disease rates increasing each year and the country keeps getting less healthy. Many of these people have tried gyms, they’ve had personal trainers or gone to diet clubs but it hasn’t worked. I believe that is because we’re focussing on the wrong areas and in this blog I’m going to explain how we do things differently and the reasons behind our approach.
Let’s start with how gyms usually track progress and why it’s making things worse.
Personal trainers and diet clubs love scales, they’ll get you on on a set during your first consultation and as many times as they can afterwards to show your progress so you’ll keep paying them. People are obsessed by scales, the weight loss industry plays a huge part in this with weekly weigh ins and prizes for loosing certain amounts. They make a huge amount of money and are the most successful “unsuccessful business” in the world as they have so many repeat customers! But the only people who should concern themselves with their weight are athletes who are competing in a weight category or if you’d like to know how your strength to body weight ratio. Ie you can squat 2x body weight. Weight is irrevalant for most people, it doesn’t matter how much you weigh if you feel good and move well, plus we all know by now that muscle weighs more then fat so if you’re participating in a strength programme then it’s not going to accurately reflect the amount of body fat you’ve lost.
At Dorchester Agoge we only have mirrors in the bathrooms. I have no idea why gyms feel the need to cover their walls in mirrors unless they’re trying to hide some dodgy plastering. The usual excuse is it’s so members can check their form. I want to make it perfectly clear that this is completely false and is dangerous advice as mirrors encourage bad form. If the mirror is in front you of you then you'll loose spinal integrity by keeping your head up on squats or deadlifts. Even worse is if the mirror is to the side you have to twist your head risking even greater injury. If you want to check your form then hire a coach or at the very least record your lift from the side on a phone and watch it back afterwards. Plus there’s the psychological aspect to consider. If a client comes to you because they’re unhappy about their appearance, putting them in a room full of mirrors probably isn’t going to make them feel great and enjoy the workout. They will probably leave deflated and not come back and everyone looses. The gyms lost a client, the client who finally got up the courage to train feels shit and decides exercise isn’t for them and the NHS gets put under even more strain.
Before and after pics
This is nothing more than an attempt by a coach to use your body issues to promote his/her business. We don’t do this and never will, these sort of pics are notoriously manipulated through lighting to give you a false image and lead to even more time in front of the mirror trying to self analysis your progress.This creates entirely the wrong mindset, it’s subjective and inaccurate. Models who pose on the front of fitness magazines follow strict diets leading up to the shoot and they “dry” themselves out to look more vascular. Unfortunately many trainers encourage the same strategy with their clients to showcase their results to promote their business.
Here’s how we do it…
We track performance not aesthetics.
If you test a broad range of physical tasks and there is a consistent improvement throughout then every other physical marker must have improved.
So if we take five different tests, for example let’s use a one rep max on a deadlift, a 1k best effort on a rowing machine, a 300m run, max effort on pull ups and a five minute kettlebell snatch test and all the results improve from the last time you tested them then everything else must have improved.
Your resting heart rate must have improved, your body fat percentage must have improved, your cholesterol must have improved, your VO2 max must have improved, any other health marker must have improved, there’s no way these markers can get worse if your physical performance over a broad range of tests is getting better.
So how does that effect you psychologically?
Firstly you start to take pride in how you move instead of how you look, you track your results and try to improve a little more each time you train instead of wasting time looking in a mirror.
Secondly you eat to aid performance not to beat the scales. A weekend of takeaways and beer is unlikely to lead to a new personal best so you start fuelling your body properly so you can perform better. Athletes eat and train, they don’t diet and exercise.
Thirdly all the other ascetic benefits will occur naturally anyway, you’ll look better in pictures, clothes will fit better, you’d look better in a mirror( if we had any!) and you’d probably weigh less.
As I said at the start, the fitness industry is broken, don’t get suckered in to its false units of measure and its unrealistic airbrushed ideals. Find a good coach who can show you how to preform the movements to a high level and follow a realistic programme that won’t leave you broken. Fitness is a marathon not a sprint, take it steady, rest when you need to, grab a pizza and beer every now and again and enjoy the process and what your body is capable of.
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