What do CEOS, successful stand-up comics, rock stars, world-renowned physicians, and the perfect protein shake have in common? Consistency.
No, this is not a motivational pep talk; this is an article on why the utter over-availability of group fitness choices is a double-edged sword. Today in cities both small and large, consumers now have the option of attending group fitness classes from dozens of studios and gyms…every month. While this opportunity lends itself to shopping around, over time the “results” can comprise of frustration, injuries, and even a return to old (sedentary) ways.
Admittedly, I’m offering my own perspective here—one of a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and former-fitness-consumer-turned athlete. Subjectively, my perspective is this: my regular personal training clients and regular class attendees are on a gradual, productive path towards becoming stronger, reducing body fat, improving posture, enhancing their mood and confidence levels, and are seeing their metabolism become more efficient. In other words, they’re achieving their desired results.
Slightly more objectively, what I see among non-regulars who bounce from studio to gym to barre class to multiple spin classes for more than a couple months might also be described as “results,” but who desires those results?! They include: repetitive stress injuries from movement pattern overload (e.g., hunching over a spin bike for 10-plus hours a week or even squatting improperly but not working enough to fix it), momentary weight loss followed by rebound weight gain, and several other avoidable plights. Mark my words: shiny-object-syndrome is about to take its toll on consumers everywhere, and without achieving both consistency and balance, you’re wasting your time and money.
To clarify, to be “consistent” means to attend a fitness studio or two (not 12) regularly over several months, thereby constituting a “program.” And for a program to be “balanced,” then, it must offer classes that focus on strength (top priority for the post-26 year-old crowd since we naturally atrophy after that), flexibility, mobility, and conditioning. In the strength dimension of “balance,” moreover, overlapping muscle groups and repeatable movement patterns must vary.
To help you see it another way, here’s a chart!:
Don’t believe me? Try benching four times a week and doing nothing else, then talk to me in a month when you’ve plateaued, have biceps tendonitis, and can’t scratch your own back anymore.
The bottom line here is that, as my mom says (and she actually does say this) anything worth doing is worth doing right. So do yourself a favor and find a program that works for you—subjectively and objectively—and stick to it. Getting on a good, balanced program and attending it multiple times a week is the only way to go from consumer to athlete.