The Fitness Column: Fitness Fads Aren’t for the Real You

The Fitness Column: Fitness Fads Aren’t for the Real You

We’ve become obsessed with fitness fads. Trends like Crossfit, Orangetheory, Shred415, P90X and hot yoga are great methods for being fit and active, but they’re not always effective for achieving whole body health.

To get your body looking and feeling like you want it to, you must commit to working hard and providing your body with the variety it needs. Today’s fitness fads are not without their perks. They offer unique, collaborative environments that can make us want to work hard. But they don’t always provide that necessary variety.

P90X, a 90-day home fitness program from trainer Tony Horton, will certainly get you moving and leave you feeling full of adrenaline and even a little physically worn out at the end of the workout. You may lose weight, and you’ll certainly avoid the ailments that can come from being sedentary. But this, and other fads like it, are designed with the whole population in mind, not your unique condition. Tony Horton doesn’t know the first thing about your body. Any variables offered—like working the upper body or lower body—may not be problematic, but they’re also not problem solving. They require you to stick to the script of that particular workout.

In order to provide the best health and shape for your body, you should never be doing just one thing. The phrase workout routine might as well be a four-letter word. Routine is the opposite of what you want. Instead, if you must get in on the newest exercise program, you should make these fads a part of your overall health agenda but not your entire focus.

Intensity will always be intense.

Our bodies respond best to new types of stimuli. If you are used to taking long breaks between sets, try shorter sets. If you are used to focusing on one body part per workout, try a total body workout. Yes, you want to keep moving, but you don’t always have to push yourself over the top like some of these routines encourage. While challenging yourself and your body is certainly appropriate from time to time, challenging it consistently is not good for your central nervous system. That’s why people burn out and injure themselves.

It’s best to pay attention to what your body responds to and approach it at your skill level. It may be that none of these fads work for you. Or the answer may be a hybrid of a few of them. It may be better to do a hot fad workout once a week and do less intense workouts on other days.

If you are not seeing results—no matter the workout—then change something. It’s easy to just show up to your workout each week. But for lasting results, you need to not only show up, but also be an active participant in your workout regimen. Ask yourself, honestly, whether you are stronger today than you were when you started. If not, add weights or distance or intensity. If you run six miles every day, try seven. If you do 45 minutes of relaxed cardio every day, do 20 minutes at hard intensity.

Only by working hard and avoiding routines will you look and feel the way you wanted when you signed up for the new you. By being an active participant in the structuring of your workout, you’ll learn to develop a fitness plan that works best for you. And by empowering yourself this way, you’ll realize that fitness is way bigger than any fad.

 Anthony Bonazzo is an NASM-certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and fitness nutrition specialist. He has been a personal trainer for 10 years and teaches and trains all over Chicago through his company AB Fit.

Originally published in the Spring 2016 print edition.