The New Age Of Fitness


The New Age Of Fitness

Staying on the right (healthy) side of fitness trends.

Written by Dasha Anderson 

This Article is Sponsored by our Partner KATLA

Our bodies are made and designed to move. To push, pull, crawl, walk, jump, squat, hinge, throw, turn, twist, stretch, kick, run, hop, roll,  we are made for this—but when was the last time you did any of those things? (Be honest!). 

A survey by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health revealed that adults spend an average of approximately fifty-five hours a week sitting in a chair, whether they are watching television, using a computer or tablet, driving, or reading. Another ‘not so great’ fact; women are often more sedentary than men because they tend to hold less physically active jobs than men do.

Luckily in the past few decades, fitness has shifted. It has taken a significant turn and become much more integrated into our daily lives. Just three decades ago, Arnold pumping iron in a male-dominated lifting gym and women jumping around in spandex to dance music were the only images of fitness outside of professional sports. Today there are limitless options to get active and get fit. 

While things changed from the seventies, eighties, and nineties, as fitness evolved to be more inclusive and broad, it also became less responsible. Not all of the trends in the past decade or two have been good ones. Health and wellness have had a massive peak, and with it came tons of lousy information. Fitness methods claimed their science by making up or cherry-picking facts. Women (and men) because sweat obsessed, burning off calories by over-consuming exercise classes and overtraining their bodies into injury, overuse, and unhealthy obsessions. In a sudden age of information overload, people did not understand what they needed, and the doses in which they needed it, living without realizing it; in an exercise obsessed wild-wild-west. 

How did it go wrong? With the industry suddenly growing due to new health-conscious, information crazed, reality TV society, the style of working out seemed to become a dangerous trend. With social media on the rise, social platforms changed and broadened how we see and consume health education. Through Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, the world of fitness became a style, a culture, and entertainment. Moreover, it gave a platform to anyone (accredited, educated, or not).  At the same time, ‘fit’ celebs made it a fashion to hang with their trainers and show off their lean muscles. Fitness classes became social cataclysms, and leggings became the daily norm. While all of this created a more health-conscious society, it also breads an age of misinformed and misguided people trying desperately to ‘do what it takes’ to stay thin, lean, and relevant. To make matters worse, since there is little regulation for trainers, and since the weight-loss and health industry are one of the largest growing markets, many misinformed and un-educated ‘experts’ and influencers came onto the scene and made a mess out of our approach to health. 

Exercise requires science, education, and programming. However, in the early age of information overload and instant access, exercise felt more like a mad dash to the finish line at any cost necessary. 

To understand this, we must first understand the exercise.

The cornerstones of fitness are a vital component of one’s longevity, health, and overall success in accomplishing ideal body mass, strength, and mobility. The importance of strength training, variance in intensity, and a disciplined training routine along-side a solid diet of nutrient-rich foods are those very cornerstones. However, because they are simple and less glamorous then the revolving door of new methods and cool trinkets, these very important factors were overshadowed by quick fixes, all or nothing methods, and a ‘cardio’ over the weight-training craze. Nevertheless, the simple fact is how you train; sets, reps, prescribed days, the tools and exercises you use are the only variance you will ever need to reach and sustain any goal. 

Sadly, for a long while, this type of scientific approach was lost to an identity trend. Exercise ‘working out’ was no longer a chore or good habit, it became who you are. Suddenly it became more important to create an identity as someone that runs or lifts kettlebells or does spin class or yoga then to establish a meaningful training regiment.

Fitness & Social Media 

The growth of social media both hurt, uplifted, and evolved the industry. Anyone with a camera and an account could suddenly claim expert status and step into the role of an educator. Sadly having a large following and having a degree and years of experience do not always go hand-in-hand. Social media can be informative, inspiring, uplifting, and also destructive and dangerous. After all, for many with a platform taking responsibility is not as crucial as getting a follower. Information can easily be tailor-made to look and sound in a way that shares only partial truth, or, as in the case of fitness partial or no scientific basis. As fitness accounts exploded across apps, it took some time and many conversations with experts for people to suddenly understand that not everyone with a great body on Instagram knew what they were talking about when it came to exercise prescription.

The right parts of social media have made a significant impact as well. Educated individuals now have a greater reach to share their information. Studies and videos from doctors, physical therapists, master trainers, professional athletes, coaches, and sports science researchers are now accessible with the click of a button, the search of a hashtag or an account. This new sharing of information is helping fitness professionals learn, educate, and research. Thanks to this new age of information sharing and accessibility, the fitness industry is evolving faster than ever before.

The Second Wave 

Initially, when, for the first time, we saw people with flawless abs and perfect glutes post workout videos and tell their ‘truth,’ we reacted with a one-track approach. Today, with millions of accounts and countless great bodies and minds populating our feeds, we engage smarter and understand the value of a post, as well as how to identify credible sources from feats of inspiration. We are also able to see a great variety of bodies, and experiences through posts and videos which make us more open minded and inspired.  We are exposed first hand to things like weight training, cold therapy, martial arts (you name it). Suddenly these somewhat ‘taboo’ or ‘niche’ activities are making themselves known and more accepted , becoming mainstream by the second. 

All in all, today there is a new age of fitness on the rise, and it is far more inclusive, evolved, and educated than the ones that came before. Health, performance, and getting people injury free has made its way back into our feeds thanks to the followers and educators that have taken up the cause to re-establish a healthy relationship with fitness.

How To Stay On The Right Side Of The Trends in Three Simple Simple Steps

1. Understanding the definition of exercise is vital to determining fact from fiction. Exercise is actually a simple two-fold definition; performance enhancement and injury prevention.

Performance enhancement: a reliable exercise program improves your ability in a specific sport. This is why triathletes, basketball players, tennis players, swimmers, and all other professional athletes take part in a regular, regimented, and prescribed strength and conditioning routine. 

Injury prevention: as you train, work out, or exercise (all interchangeable terms), you are fortifying and balancing your body. Correct exercise should never lead to injury. While minor injuries can be common when playing a sport, it is not okay to get hurt lifting a weight or a kettlebell or doing a push-up; the latter (the exercises) are made to fortify your body and aid injury prevention. 

Exercise should never cause injury. Properly conducted, exercise will instead make the joints and connective tissue more mobile, as well as increase your ability to exert more force. Proper exercise will improve performance and longevity in any activity or sport you do, and do the same in your life. 

The byproduct of exercise is a healthy and fit-looking body. Yes, I said the byproduct! While many of us take on exercise to lose weight and look better, in the true definition of the term, improved body composition and increased cardiorespiratory functioning is a simple byproduct of fitness and exercise. Moreover, while you can also lose weight and feel better when you become active and perhaps begin to take part in sports, exercise is directly related to balancing the body and providing the best overall results in health and wellness. 

2. If it is too good to be true, it likely is! 

This is a simple thing, and yet- well, we have all bought into something that had no basis, science or fact. It is human nature to dream and hope and fantasize, but avoid it at all costs when dealing with your health, wellness, and strength. Fitness is a science, and the sooner people make peace with that fact, the sooner they will realize that while there are no ‘short cuts’, there is a very clear cut way to reach and maintain all of your goals. 

3. Know your goals, and do not compromise. 

An ultra-endurance athlete will train very different from a person who is looking to tone up and get stronger in their everyday lives. However, the cross-over will be that both individuals will require a measurable and progressive weight training routine. 

There are cross-overs in goals, but in the end, what you need is specific to you. Your body may be able to handle something your friend’s body cannot, and visa-versa. You may have a different skill set, different genetics, and a different history (past injuries, athletics as a child). Therefore your goals are specific, and they matter only to you. 

Use social media as an uplifting form of motivation, but do not blindly follow exercises and routines that have no basis in science and no relevance to you or your body or goals.  

To sum it all up, 

The new age of fitness is, as I see it,  up to us to define. The key is to place our values in the right direction: longevity before jeans size, weight-loss second to muscle composition. Placing your health; bone density, strength, mobility, cardio-respiratory, and vascular health first.  Once we do this we are (as they say) placing ourselves on the right side of history and health.