It’s that time of year when Fitness Frank and Pilates Penny can make you feel like you aren’t good enough.
From Instagram #fitspirations who just make you feel fat, to endless 30 day challenges promising everything from losing fat while you sleep to getting you an ab crack*. And then of course there’s the endless gym ‘drop a dress size’ marketing rhetoric and teenage bootcamp instructors with giant hipster beards who promise you the body of a 20-year-old if you just flip a few muddy tyres whilst being shouted at in the cold (even though you’ve just given birth to twins and you can’t even cough without pee-ing yourself, let alone do a burpee).
It doesn’t have to be this hard. Don’t give in to #desperatefitness – you know that feeling when you feel so guilty about your extra cake layers that you go to a miserable, shouty, sweaty class that makes you feel like cr*p but you’re convinced you can feel the fat disappearing afterwards. Well nothing could hurt this much and not be good for you. Right? Wrong. Pain doesn’t equate to results.
You do not have to resort to #desperatefitness to make positive changes. Those hideous, vomit inducing fat camp TV programmes don’t serve the happy fitness message. You don’t have to vomit to get fitter. Being shouted at or told to buy a gym membership isn’t necessarily the advice you need.
I have a friend who put on 2 stone in her first year at University. She went from a size 8-10, 9 stone, slim girl to a size 14, tipping 11 stone, curvy girl. And not curvy fit. Curvy fat. In fact she was cast as the Courtesan in Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors because of her shape (I should add it was the second time in my life that I’d played the role of a prostitute – yes that friend is me).
Why am I telling you this? Because I’d put on fat. I wasn’t happy about it and I wasn’t at that time a regular gym attendee or runner. Dancing had always been my activity and I was no longer involved in regular classes.
That summer I was awarded an internship based on the Local Government Student Sponsorship Scheme at the London Borough of Barnet. A placement which as it turned out would put me off working for local authorities for life, however, the daily commute to and from Waltham Abbey to Hendon involved at least 30 minutes of walking at each end. And, the London Borough of Barnet’s offices were a 20 minute brisk walk away from Brent Cross. So most lunch-times I would walk to Brent Cross for a quick window shop to appease the boredom.
By the end of my 3 week placement I’d not only fulfilled my placement brief (creating a newsletter for the fledgeling IT department) but I’d lost a stone. I wasn’t flipping tyres, I wasn’t being shouted at, I didn’t even tell anyone I was trying to lose weight – in fact I didn’t even tell myself.
My point is that even though at that time I wasn’t on an optimal nutrition diet (although there was minimal access to late night chocolate digestives after a university night out) I wasn’t bludgeoning myself to lose weight. I just increased my activity levels and dropped unnecessary alcohol and biscuit calories and lost weight.
Now obviously if you have more specific goals, you’ll need more expert advice than ‘walk some more’. But get the right advice, not the shoutiest most desperate for your cash advice.
I want to share these thoughts and facts with you:
- The fitness industry is not regulated. The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Activity is trying to change this but as it stands, anyone could start up a bootcamp or fat loss programme without any training and promise you the world. They don’t have to deliver.
- Pilates instructors can be trained now by distance, online learning in a weekend and still set up as Pilates instructors alongside those who have paid £3k and spent years learning.
- Gym instructors – the people who are supposed to deliver the promises the gym marketing is selling you – earn between £6.70 and £7.35 per hour (based on a quick Google search).
- Newspaper headlines about fad diets and extreme workouts sell papers and get clicks.
- I’m sharing these thoughts with you, so you can make up your own mind about #desperatefitness – and so you can let go of the guilt.
Four years ago Chris and I founded Fit School because we wanted to educate and empower our community with the advice and knowledge we’d gained from our collective industry experience and training (now 25 years). We love it when someone says to us, ‘I followed your advice and something has just clicked. It really works.’ It’s like the penny drops.
Fitness isn’t one size fits all. We’ve learned this through experience. The exhausted parent needs very different advice from the business entrepreneur, ex-pro footballer, pregnant mum, post cancer op gran or first time marathon trainee. We’ve trained them all, we know. But no one needs the guilt.
So do yourself a favour and start this year without the desperation. Get great advice, from a trusted source. And make these your 2017 fitness resolutions:
- I will ignore newspaper headlines about fitness/diet fads.
- I will stop making excuses when the truth hits home.
- I will not give in to #desperatefitness.
- I will find exercise and activity I enjoy and do it. Guilt free.
- I will seek out the best advice for my goals because my health and wellness are worth it, not because I feel guilty.
*An ab crack is an actual thing. It was the desired physical fitness aesthetic trend of 2016.