Sunday, May 24, 2009

Embracing Physical Culture

Today, the idea of being fit or more specifically, looking fit is very appealing for many Americans. Popular magazines, television, and the internet all glamorize and promote the idea of looking fit (even if it is by means of medical, surgical, or pharmacological intervention). Though, it is increasingly elusive in an era of escalating obesity rates and incidences of 'diseases of affluence'.

Americans' busy, fast-paced lifestyles have left many to fall victim to 'quick fixes'- be it infomercials, commercial gyms, supplements, or the latest exercise fad. They want the results, but don't or can't make the investment of their time and effort in exercise training, nutrition, and recovery. These are the same people who try a variety of fitness classes, like flipping through channels on the television, to see which one they like; step aerobics, Pilates, yoga, spin, boot camps, you name it, they have tried it. They lose interest, fail to see results or just simply stop altogether. Eventually, they start the cycle all over again, never really making much improvement with their bodies.

As a trainer, word of mouth is one of the greatest ways I get referrals for new clients. I am recommended to others based on the results of my clients. Some clients get excellent results and some clients get mediocre results (I like to think that there is more of the former than the latter). But is it because I do a better job of training some clients and not others? Is it because some clients are just genetically predisposed to fail? No and no. The underlying factor that determines if a client sees significant results in their fitness, health and body composition is if they commit to a Physical Culture. That is, are they committed to learning correct exercise techniques, progressively training their bodies' with appropriate training programs, supporting their training with sound nutrition and sleep, and ultimately understanding that Physical Culture is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. For those people who have adopted a Physical Culture, their bodies speak for themselves. They don't make excuses or dread going to the gym. In fact, they enjoy it. They accomplish feats that others just can't imagine. It is pretty neat to see the determination, drive, and results in these people (and luckily a lot of my clients fall into this category).

Exercise training cannot simply be put on hold for a month or two when your life gets busy. It has to be integral to your lifestyle. Exercise training, first and foremost, should be viewed as a stimulus to improve your body and how it functions. You should look forward to it for its immediate and long-term enhancement of your mental and physical well-being. It should not be a punishment, or a chore, or a way to combat your poor nutrition habits.

So, for those of you who have embraced Physical Culture, you will continue to reap the benefits for a lifetime. For those of you who have not, but want to improve your body, look beyond the marketing hype of the infomercials, supplements, fitness fads, and commercial gyms. You don't need an Ab Lounger, or creatine powders or a $6000 treadmill with a flat-screen television to achieve a strong, lean, healthy, and vibrant body- just a lifestyle anchored by the three pillars of fitness- consistent exercise training, sound nutrition (real, whole foods), and recovery (active and passive).

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