September 17, 2018

fitness

The fitness industry is booming in Ireland, but why are we fatter than ever before?

THE HEALTH AND fitness industry is booming and as a consequence, more of us are conscious of our overall wellbeing, both physically and mentally.

The last decade has seen a complete transformation of the fitness industry in Ireland, with this country now full of commercial gyms, boxing clubs, training academies and smaller private gyms.

Long gone are the days where one size fitted all and we had to search far and wide for the correct information for our goals.

We now have vast amounts of information one click away to help us out and guide us on the right path, so why are obesity levels higher than ever before? Why is it that we are sicker and fatter than ever before? Why is it almost a third of Irish children are now overweight? Why is it that we have far higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress-related illnesses than ever before?

In every article I write, my aim is to provide you with as much relevant and honest information as possible, all of which I feel will help you, the reader, in building and sustaining a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Like I’ve said so many times before, fitness to me isn’t just about lifting weights, going for a run and living off a diet of chicken and broccoli. There is a far bigger and broader picture to it.

Switched on but very much disconnected

Our lifestyle as a nation has changed drastically in the last two decades. We are not only working longer days, but our jobs are more demanding than ever.

If we keep going this way we are raising ourselves and our families for a lifetime of insomnia, poor health and bad self-esteem. We are now filled with nights of junk sleep, day-time slumps and overall tired days with low energy.

We are disconnecting ourselves from real-life conversations to online chats through a screen with our friends, idolising online followers we don’t know and getting false gratification from social media sites full of fake and filtered information.

Don’t get me wrong, technology has been absolutely great for us all but unfortunately technology never came with the right instructions on how to use it effectively.

Health, nutrition and training is CONSTANTLY being sold to us in the extreme

Long-term health shouldn’t be about extremes. It should be about hard work, yes, but also smart moves filled with consistency, patience, enjoyment, sustainability, and a little self-compassion.

Nowadays, the way fitness is packaged and sold to us is far too extreme. Everything and anything nowadays has to be tough, full of high intensity and volume and cause blood, sweat and tears.

Watch any TV weight loss show and all we see is contestants driven into the floor with their training then paraded down a runway to a scales which in turn will judge whether or not all that ridiculous amount of unsustainable training they have only just started has been a success or not.

This isn’t the right message, yet it’s the only message the majority of us are seeing.

Everything is NOW

We now live in a very fast-paced world. Pretty much everything and anything is available within a click of a button and it seems as though this approach of getting what you want now is coming into the fitness industry.

Rather than promoting a long-term holistic healthier approach to living, the majority of the industry focuses on offering products that will get you the easier/faster/cheaper solution.

The quick-fix supplement or gimmick is all the craze nowadays as we’re promised a six-pack within four weeks by the latest online ‘fitness influencer.’

Don’t get me wrong, some online ‘fitness influencers’ can be helpful and provide useful and accurate information but we have to remember it’s a business and at the end of the day, there is always a sales and marketing strategy behind it.

Most of these options — diet pills, supplements and quick-fix plans — are a total waste of time for the average person that just wants to get started and generally you don’t need to take notice of a lot of marketing nonsense that is going on around you.

If you feel that covering your tummy with saran wrap, having butter every day with your coffee, or standing on a vibrating board is going to lead you to a happier, healthier life, you need to think again.

What I suggest to you

The truth is almost everyone in fitness is trying to sell you something. Very rarely someone tries to sell you the truth — that there are no shortcuts.

You can’t beat the basics — patience, hard work and consistency — and while it may be boring, it’s true.

  • Start focusing on the long-term effects of your choices instead of the short-term gains.
  • Start to come away from the aesthetic side of things in which how you want to look all the time and start honing in how you want to feel.
  • Start to bring in consistency over intensity and perhaps start looking at making 1% improvements, rather than chasing the 100% improvement.
  • ‘Slow down to speed back up again’ — doing things that help the mind slow down, destress and unwind are vital and often sacrificed in favour of more “fitness-focused” activities. Take social media with a pinch of salt and don’t let it dictate on how you should look or want to feel. Social platforms, online/TV trainers, bloggers and vloggers are some of the relevant areas here. Sadly, a lot of this misleading information contradicts a lot of the good, basic information that has been out there and working for years. There is some amazing information out there but you need to be wary you’re not following some random trainer, blogger or vlogger who hasn’t got a clue what they are talking about.
  • Silence the phone every now and again and get back in control of your devices instead of your devices controlling you. Get outside to nature or even bring in things like mindfulness, yoga or even meditation which can improve your stress levels, fatigue or burnout. A healthy mind helps a healthy body.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.