Why you don’t need to go to the gym and other fitness misconceptions

Aptitude is something we think we understand, but as is often the case with complex social constructs, our assumptions about the subject are often wrong.

The human body is a complicated organism governed by systems and functions that everyone takes for granted. No one ever taught us how to move properly, to breathe as efficiently as possible or to sleep so that our spine is not stiff in the morning. We have faith that these things will just happen, until the day comes when something goes wrong and then we start looking for the owner’s manual.

These blind spots are caused by misconceptions, and these misconceptions prevent us from reaching our full potential in all areas of life, including the gym. That’s why coaches and trainers are so important, they provide the expertise most of us don’t have time to develop and an unbiased perspective born from hands-on experience. With that in mind, I asked some of the brightest coaches I know to address the most common misconceptions in our industry.

These are what they say are the great myths.

Getting in shape takes a lot of time

Adrian Nicola is the head trainer and co-founder of Recess Fitness Club, a beginner’s gym in Toronto that offers small group classes and private training. Contrary to the message that is popular among social media influencers and lifestyle gurus, Mr. Nicola says you don’t need to adopt a spartan lifestyle revolving around the gym to see positive results.

We maintain a set curriculum that rotates every three months, said Mr. Nicola in an email interview. This allows our clients to gain confidence with specific techniques and exercises, even if they train once a week. You can make modest improvements week after week, with just one 50-minute session.

In other words, consistency is more important than intensity.

Elsbeth Vaino, a personal trainer based in Ottawa, notes in an email conversation that this is especially true for ordinary people, many of whom have been misled by industry propaganda.

Strength training is one of the best things you can do for your health, said Ms. I do, and yet the fitness industry tells anyone whose schedule is already a struggle, or who has never enjoyed being in the gym, that it’s not for them. . Well, it’s for you even if you only have 30 minutes a week.

Looking fit is the same as being healthy

One of the single most irritating paradoxes in the fitness world is that the behaviors and results we were told to emulate are, for the most part, incredibly unhealthy. The physiques presented by bodybuilders, fitness models, and anyone else who gets paid to pose in their swimsuits are almost always drug-fueled and photoshop-enhanced.

Society’s standards consider them to be muscular, lean and ripped, said Johnathan Abbott, head trainer and owner of Calisthenics Center in Kitchener, Ont. We overlook more important factors like strength, mobility, mindset, getting enough sleep and having a healthy relationship with food. We strive to look like someone else instead of focusing on being exactly who we are.

This can be a hard mindset to adopt, especially when we see universal actors like Jake Gyllenhaal waltzing across the screen with zero percent body fat and blocky shoulders. But remember: Your favorite movie stars didn’t get into superhero shape just by sheer force of will; they had a lot of help and made a lot of sacrifices because that’s what their job demands.

You have to go to the gym

I have been going to gyms for over 25 years. Some have been fancy gyms with cucumber-infused water on tap and locker room attendants handing out scented towels, some have been dank dungeons with equipment so old it belongs in a museum (if not the landfill). Of the two extremes, I actually prefer the latter (less busy, less distractions), but my favorite place to work out isn’t a gym at all, it’s my living room.

As far as I’m concerned, the biggest misconception about health and fitness is that you have to go to the gym. Yes, you need to move your body regularly, and if you want to age gracefully you need to worry about building and maintaining strength. But this in no way means that you have to pay monthly fees for the privilege of doing so.

Gyms offer a lot, don’t get me wrong. Finding the right one can make a big difference in terms of motivation and results. For some, however, the idea of ​​joining a gym creates another hurdle. Don’t be discouraged! The best training is the one you can do, right here, right now.

Paul Landini is a personal trainer and health educator in Kitchener, Ontario.

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