Overcoming my fitness bias

The minute the words came out of my mouth, I regretted them.

"I don't care for machines. In fact, I don't think we should even have them in the Fitness Center."

I was sitting in a my first wellness committee meeting at the college where I work, and when someone brought up machines I barfed my negativity all over the place. The stony silence that followed was predictable.


Someone finally spoke up. "For some of us, machines are what we know how to do."

I was embarrassed. Not because I think machines are good for workouts, but because that kind of negative attitude does little to inspire people. The fastest way to lose not only respect, but more importantly someone's attention, is to flash the kind of arrogance that says I know more than you do.  


The thing is, I don't know more than you do. Especially not about your body. But I am trying to learn as much as I can about fitness so that I can be as informative as possible. 

When it comes to fitness, I've been immersed in learning from a variety of blogs, websites and institutions; the one thing I try most to do in this blog is sift through the piles of information out there to provide content that is valuable. Going off on a tangent about why something sucks doesn't provide value. It just makes people feel bad. 

The "my way is better than your way" attitude is prevalent everywhere, but perhaps nowhere more so than the fitness industry. Crossfit is better than kettlebells is better than yoga is better than spinning is better than P90X is better than oh my God stop. 

I'm certainly guilty of the bias. As it happens, my introduction to weight training came from Lou Schuler's "New Rules of Lifting for Women." That was followed up by a coaching session with Tony Gentilcore at Cressey Sports Performance. It didn't take long before I developed a loyalty to the book, to the information that Tony provided, and to style and approach that CSP employed. And there's nothing wrong with that. 

I saw results and fell in love with the process. But other people have seen results and fallen in love with a process that's much different than mine. And that's okay. 

Chances are if my first exposure to strength training was Crossfit, then I'd likely be a Crossfitter. We are loyal to our roots in many things, and that includes fitness. The bottom line is, who am I to judge?

Somebody got themselves motivated enough to do their first 5k. Sure running can cause some injuries and concerns when you haven't been working out. And no, running might not be the best choice for exercise if you're 45 years old, overweight, and haven't worked out in over a decade. But it's your body. It's your goal. So who am I to judge?

If I can provide you with some information that helps you make the most informed decision possible, then that is what I aim to do. If all I do is make you feel bad about the choices you are making regarding your health and fitness, especially when you are trying to do the best you can, then shame on me. 

Can't we all just get along? Can the crossfitters and the yogis and the power lifters and the everyone who isn't Tracy Anderson get along? I don't need to have a Tracy Anderson rant here, because more qualified people than me have spent time debunking much of the pseudo-science she uses to perpetuate bad information and instill fear in people. Anderson, for those of you not familiar - actually if you're not familiar good, keep it that way. Ok, she's a celebrity trainer who rails that women should never lift more than three pounds. Even though your purse, gym bag, and child weigh more than that. Aside from Tracy Anderson though, if you are making every effort to improve your health and fitness then I don't want to judge those efforts. I want to help them; but not judge them.

And having said that, I think the best thing that you, and I can do in our pursuit of fitness is to challenge what we believe and keep an open mind. Right now, I'm interested in power lifting. In six months, I may be interested in body building. In 10 years, I might be interested in yoga. The point is, all of these types of sports and activities have something to offer. What's most important, I think, is keeping an open mind and taking what they offer to heart. 


Take what you can use

I know it sounds silly, but just about everything has something that you can use. Structure, routine, a new lift, a new breathing drill...something. Take what you can use and let it be just that.