“I don’t do (insert workout name here) because I don’t like the way their body looks.”
There are numerous exercise myths that I really wish would just stop already. But the one myth that frustrates me more than the rest is the belief and that if you engage in a certain type of workout your body will automatically look like someone else’s that does the same (or says they do the same) workout.
Here are some examples I have heard over the years:
I don’t want to do indoor cycling because I’ll get bulky thighs, I don’t want to do those types of crunches because it will make my stomach permanently pooch out, I don’t want to do swimming for cardio because it will make my arms too big, Yoga is too easy and won’t make my arms big enough, if I do squats like him, my legs will get bulky, ect….
I like to think somewhere, deep down, clients know that this fear they have is totally irrational. And really, they know they won’t end up looking like whomever they are comparing themselves with.
But even if they know that their arms won’t inflate like Popeye’s after lifting a 5 pound dumbbell, there are hundreds and even thousands of messages out there that say otherwise. For example, check out this Shape magazine cover:
No wonder people think that if they do a certain workout they are going to end up looking a certain way! It’s like if you don’t do the perfect workout then you will never have the perfect body so you must first do the perfect workout. Every fitness guru and magazine is touting that they have the magic formula that will finally get you to that elusive perfect body. And every month new articles are published claiming to have the best new workout that you haven’t been doing so that is why you don’t look like this lady above.
I mean, really? It’s time to stop this crazy train and get a big dose of reality right now!
Here are 3 important things to stop and remember next time you contemplate doing a workout based on someone else’s appearance, and one huge over-riding reason at the very end:
1. You don’t have that person’s genes.
How your body responds to a certain exercise regimen is completely different than how another person’s body will respond. I see this everyday. Yes, there are certain universal physiological rules that apply to almost everyone like how your body will respond to a given force/stress you place it under, or in other words, you will get stronger if you are consistently challenging how much weight you push or lift. But so much of the amount of muscle and fat you naturally carry is genetic determined. Want a good example of what your body will naturally want to move towards? Look at your parents.
2. You are not the same age as that person.
I may be a mere 33 years old but my body is definitely different from where it was when I was 25 or even 30 for that matter! Age is a HUGE determinate in how your body will respond to a workout. Even if the person you are comparing yourself to is yourself. Hormones, sleeping patterns and stress levels all change as we age (oh goody), and all of this can affect your appearance.
3. You have no idea what that person is eating (or not eating).
Think about it, how many times a week do you workout. Now compare that to how many times a week you eat. Exactly. Food intake is a much bigger player and unless you have a secret camera in that other person’s refrigerator, there is no way of knowing what they are eating on a daily basis. (Please don’t get any ideas)
And here is the BIG, BIG over-riding reason why this myth irks me so much:
The most harmful aspect about believing this myth is that when you base the quality, effectiveness and validity of a workout on what someone else looks like, you give power to this belief that physical appearance is more important than how a workout will not only help your health, but also how it will make you feel.
Why is it not a good idea to give power to appearance? Well, besides the obvious of always feeling like crap, basing your workouts on appearance will always lead to inconsistent workouts and therefore no long lasting health benefits. It’s a lose, lose. You will forever be on and then off the wagon trapped in a very unproductive and unhealthy cycle because your workout has no intrinsic value.
So my question for you now is this; what is your workout plan for 2015 (yep it’s right around the corner)? Are you doing a workout because you truly like it (yes, it’s quite possible to love your workouts) or are you doing it because Shape Magazine told you that it’s the best way to tone your thighs? If you’re Ok with being a “new years resolution statistic” then head to that “butts and guts” class that you secretly hate. But remember once you find a workout you love, you will never workout another day in your life.