The Future Of Fitness

by Kilo on July 7, 2010

Strength in numbers

strength in numbers

This is a guest post from Chris Beardsley from Garage Gym Online.

What is the future of fitness?

Is it resistance bands, indoor rowing, CrossFit or long-distance cycling? Is it resistance training or cardio training? Is it one thing or many?

I think I might have found the answer. But before I share it with you, let me take you on a little walk through history…

In the past, a long time ago

A long time ago, before the industrial revolution, there was no such thing as getting fit, or so it seems to me.

I figure that the vast majority of people just got up early, worked hard all day on the land, went back home, ate and slept. When they couldn’t work anymore, their children looked after them. If they didn’t have any children, they died.

And if all the old portraits are anything to go by, the very tiny minority who enjoyed leisure time spent most of it riding around on horses and shooting game. And having their portraits painted, I suppose. But I digress.

Still in the past, but fast forward a bit

After the industrial revolution, more and more people in the first world became blessed with leisure time. At the same time, work became less physical. Not straightaway, but steadily over a hundred years.

After all, before the industrial revolution the average labourer was on their feet for most of the day, sowing or reaping, fetching firewood and carrying water, making clothes and mending the houses they lived in.

The average labourer in the throes of the industrial revolution was more likely to be found operating a machine or, as technology developed, sitting at a production line.

Now fast forward again

Following World War Two, the trend for the majority of labour in the first world was to become sedentary or semi-sedentary. Mechanisation made manual labour much less important. Later on, the knowledge economy enshrined the role of the desk-bound cubicle dweller.

Nowadays, thousands of us spend all day sitting at desks answering phones or entering data. Maybe the same number work on the tills in 24-hour supermarkets. Many more spend the day assembling products imported from China or Taiwan or driving little forklifts around gigantic distribution warehouses in out-of-town business parks.

And don’t forget those of us who drive for a living: salesmen in their cars, van and truck drivers, public and private hire taxis, mini-cabs, train, tram and underground drivers. You name it, we sit on it.

It reads like the script of Wall-E but it’s true.

The first problem: we became weak

And as we did less and less physical work, we realised that we had lost something.

Our strength and our muscular physiques.

We noticed that the people who still had manual jobs looked very different from those of us who shunned those harder callings for roles with shorter hours, better pay and more prospects of advancement.

We called out in need and the great strongmen of the age answered. “Buy my correspondence course”, they shouted, mustachios twirling, “and you shall have the body you desire”.

But we quickly realised that the programmes they set required real, hard work and few of us had the mental strength to stick with them. The majority grew let the opportunity pass them by and they grew weak.

And as we grew weak, we noticed that as we aged, we quickly became infirm, lost our balance and fell, became incapable of doing the things we wanted to. Soon, though, this became the norm, and we accepted it as part of growing old.

How quickly we forgot.

The second problem: we became fat

And as we grew weak, we noticed something else starting to happen.

We noticed that many of our friends and colleagues were getting overweight and bursting out of their clothes. The supermarkets reacted quickly, of course, increasing the proportions of the sizes, so we could carry on buying the same sizes even though we ourselves increased in size.

But we were not completely fooled. We cried out in need again “help us lose weight” and the celebrity fitness trainers answered “come jogging with me and lose all that flab”.

The dieticians chimed in too, with “do my low-fat / low-carb / cabbage soup / meal-replacement-shake diet and get back to your ideal weight”.

And it worked, for some of us. But as before, some fell by the wayside. They were the ones who found it unbearable to endure the strain of jogging every morning and eating boring food, while surrounded by the persistent advertising of the supermarkets.

So what can we do?

Today we suffer the same problems as before: we are still weak and fat.

So what can we do?

Like the generations before us, we could cry out to experts to help us. Again, that will work for some people but not for others.

But in the internet age, we don’t need to take an expert’s word for it that long, slow jogging and eating raw cabbage is the best way to lose weight. We can ask other people who have travelled the road before us what worked for them.

The help is there on the internet in the community of people all over the developed world who are trying to getting stronger and leaner.

We can apply our knowledge in the comfort of our own homes, perhaps in our garages or back gardens. We can lift and strain and jump and sprint. We can learn new skills, like Olympic lifting or powerlifting. We can carry sandbags and load stones on and off walls.

We can undo the damage that a lifetime of sedentary behaviour has wrought upon us and we can become strong and lean.

We can interact with a community that faces all the same challenges and has the same goals.

The future of fitness is that community.

The future of fitness is us.

About the author:

Chris Beardsley is a strength and fitness enthusiast from Nottingham, in the UK. He’s been clanking around in his garage gym for the last three years and has never been happier. He writes about his training, his homemade gym equipment and current trends in the fitness industry at his blog The Garage Gym Online.


Speaking of fitness, have you picked up a kettlebell yet?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean Jolly July 8, 2010 at 3:17 am

I’ve been pondering this more lately, so thankyou.
Our preceeding generations worked more to progress us to have more recreational time. now what is done with it? Work more.. Greed.

I have children of my own (wonderful), I play games with them and realise how free and child like I’ve been in doing so, difference is I’m sweaty, muscles pumping and sometimes short of breath. Great!
Simple tag in a park playground becomes Parkour like.

Reply

Kilo July 8, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I love it Dean. Well said. And watching my 2.5 year old run around, I think Parkour might be the best description, now that you mention it:)

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Rob July 8, 2010 at 8:31 am

Great article Chris! Great new blog Josh!
I’m afraid I’m one of those people who’ve gone from a strenuous working environment to a sedentary desk job. If I could earn the same working hard with my body I would.
However, good job there are some great strength and fitness communities and blogs online to keep the motivation alive.

Thanks guys!

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Kilo July 8, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Thanks Rob, you’re going to be featured on here quite a bit. Get ready.

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Giulietta Nardone July 8, 2010 at 10:37 am

Hi Chris,

All true what you say! Staying in shape is definitely a mental challenge first. As a child, I naturally stayed fit running around in the woods, riding my bike, riding my horse, swimming in ponds/pools, doing all of the above at summer camp.

Then suddenly, I grew up and faced long hours with my fanny in a cubicle seat. Borderline inhumane!

Now, I’m back walking everywhere I can, riding my bike for transportation & pleasure, dancing, hiking, etc.

Much of what we call aging appears to be the body rusting – mentally and physically.

I predict one way we’ll solve our pressing world-wide energy problem will be a semi return to a pre-industrial life. Cars will be replaced with bikes and walking paths. Maybe even foot-pedaled cars to go local. People will live closer to where they work. Maybe ziplines from place to place?

Everything is a pendulum, it will swing back to a more physical lifestyle and that’s good.

Enjoyed your post! Giulietta

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James July 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Awesome Post.
So, your saying its a lifestyle, and better with friends! Let’s Play!

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Kilo July 8, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Yep.

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The Wussy July 8, 2010 at 6:01 pm

You’ll never guess who I really am. Since we are playing make believe and all.

I AM THE WUSSY

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Kilo July 8, 2010 at 6:36 pm

I can see your email. I know exactly who you are. You will pay for your insolence when I see you tomorrow. And I admitted that my name was Josh.

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Kris Wragg July 9, 2010 at 6:06 am

Office jobs are the devil, they create a constant battle to try and avoid your body becoming chair shaped!

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Project Swole July 9, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Great post Chris, props on the new blog Josh. When we talk about ‘the community’, there really is no better offline community than Crossfit right now. Unfortunately can not help us with powerlifting and strength training as much as they can with conditioning. That being said, I agree that the online community aspect of fitness will keep those of us with any interest in the field, going strong for years to come.

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Project Swole July 9, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Oh, and also you should turn on the threaded comments option in your Wordpress settings so that your replies will show up under the OPs.

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Kilo July 9, 2010 at 4:28 pm

done! Thanks for the reminder.

Reply

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