I am very tired of fitness writers applying competitive athlete solutions to the problems of everyday fitness. The fact the body needs to move is not an issue that only pertains to competitive athletes. As a corollary, just because a world-class athlete does something doesn’t mean that it’s needed for every-day fitness.
When you thumb through a swimming mag, you’ll see articles talking about how to shave fractions of a second off your time offering all kinds of advice. I’m not going to buy the special swimsuit made of Neptunium-coated fiber blessed by the Dolphin Gods because it will reduce my drag in the water by .001%. Nor do I think that for my daily workout, shaving off all body hair below the neck to reduce drag is necessarily crucial. That .001% might matter to an Olympic athlete a great deal. But I’m not a competitive swimmer. I don’t need to apply the problems of athletic competition to daily fitness. I need to show up daily for daily fitness. That’s a completely different problem, especially when being athletic is not generally the focus of my whole day.1
I recognize that many fitness writers are competitive athletes. It’s how they motivate themselves and they tend to like the mindset. There’s nothing wrong with being a competitive athlete, of course. It can be a good way to motivate oneself, if that’s to one’s taste. But what it means is that articles on activities are going to be geared to constantly improving athletic performance with a competitive mindset.
But I think the needs of people who have absolutely no interest in being competitive athletes, but are interested in making sure they get in enough movement to keep healthy are being completely underserved. It’s logical that it’s happening. Most people in the fitness industry do get there by means of having been a competitive athlete. Hellfire, I was as a teenager, myself.
What we need to see are more articles talking about consistency of exercise rather than training for competitions, or imitating training for competitions as a workout strategy. We need to talk about staying motivated when one hasn’t the slighted interest in treating exercise like a competitive activity. We need to talk more about modifications for physical issues. We need to talk about what being fit really means instead of implying you’ll be immortal if you’re thin enough, work out enough and take all the right vitamins.
I’d be curious to know what people who aren’t into the athlete mindset, but who still work out like to do and how they keep motivated on a daily level.
1 I mean, come on, I’m a writer and a teacher. While the performance art of teaching can be pretty physical when you’re trying to keep your students interested and engaged, it’s not like being a lumberjack.