Snake oil selling better than ever
This is the first in a long series of posts about fitness. By the end you will be better prepared than ever before to attack your personal path to fitness. But before we begin, let’s tackle the elephant in the room: why the hell are you taking fitness tips, from a middle-aged, technology office worker!?
In 2019 the fitness industry is worth approximately $87.2 billion. More people are interested in fitness than at any time in the history of mankind. And to be fair, there are a lot of fit people around; there is a lot of sport being played and lots of options for where, when and what to play. We can see with our own eyes how much better the greatest sportswomen and men look today compared with the greats of 50 years ago.
Yet according to the World Health Organisation, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. If the secret sauce to being fitter and healthier is more accessible now than at any time previously, why are so many left behind unable to enjoy the benefits of a longer life, with better health, and a body capable of achieving more, with less exertion?
The reason is simple: your goal is to be fit; the fitness industry’s goal is for you to be dependent on them.
A magazine promoting nutritional advice and detailing diets, does not want you to be thin, but for you to rely on them for future advice. The low-calorie processed foods in your supermarket is not intended to make you healthy, but to sell you a quick fix. The personal trainer in your gym is not transforming you into the fittest version of you, but rather making you dependent on their bespoke training sessions.
For those of us paying vast sums of money to go to a gym, what’s the first thing they want us to do after finishing a hard workout? Buy a protein bar that claims to have only 2g of sugar… but don’t look at the fineprint or see the 20g or more of polyols that the body will use as carbohydrates to replenish all the energy you’ve just burned off.
Even though many people who have the right knowledge, or youthful energy, or wild determinism can be fit, for the majority of us we just don’t have the time. We struggle to find the honest, knowledgeable experts in all the noise of the con artists. Our jobs now keep us chained to a desk for the best part of 10 hours per day. We know in our heart of hearts that we’ll never reach that Hollywood ideal owing to our full days, and a society perfectly executing the fitness industry’s plan.
It may seem so, but I come with an alternative plan. I can do so because I have a different goal to the fitness industry. I want you to be fit. I want you to be the person in control who knows exactly how to get, and crucially, keep yourself fit. The philosopher Socrates said, “…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” I don’t want anyone to miss out on seeing that beauty.