I posted this earlier on my Facebook:
People got a little offended by this and for that, I’m sorry. You see, I had just pulled up to the gym when I witnessed a group-exercise class taking place that was packed with well-to-do females likely trying to lose a few dress sizes, be leaner, and feel better about themselves. These are all admirable goals and just because they aren’t interested in squatting 200lbs for reps doesn’t mean that I’ve written them off. Quite the contrary actually. The issue, for me, is that they still need the same type of training as a strength and conditioning enthusiast does, albeit to a different degree.
Let it be known that there is no such thing as fimer or tone-r, only stronger or weaker or leaner or fatter. A person who wants totone up, really means they want to be leaner, i.e. a better ration of lean muscle mass to fat tissue. The need strength training to build some muscle and capacity, some conditioning work to aid in burning accessed body fat stores, and a good nutrition plan to tie it all together. A failure in either the training or worse yet, the nutrition, will leave a person spinning their wheels indefinitely, which is unfortunately where most people reside. So I wrote the following response to a few commenters to clarify my thoughts:
I’d hold of on any supplements besides the basics pretty much everyone should be taking- whey protein isolate (or concentrate if $ is tight), vitamin D (the liquid form as it is actually bioavailable unlike the capsules/pills), and a quality fish oil like kirkland brand, carlson’s, nordic naturals, or similar.
On Diet/Training and Body Recomposition:
Also, diet is 100% of weight loss, technically. However, body recomposition necessitates the proper stimulus to add or at least preserve lean muscle tissue, which most people (especially women) tend to be deficient in. It is well understood by the people that actually read the literature, texts, anecdotal reports, and historical accounts of training that this is most efficiently done through classical modalities of training. Conditioning is another layer of activity that can augment body recomposition, not replace the correct nutritional protocol, it is merely another tool to help boost BMR for a period of time, prevent muscle loss whilst in a caloric deficit (if done correctly), and increase work capacity to actually train and recover better.
On Fitness “Professionals”:
Hopefully no one thought I was implicating any and all instructors of these classes as under-qualified, as there are always exceptions. In the same breath, I think we can all agree that most fitness professionals are a lacking in both practical and didactic knowledge. Being certified or holding a certificate means nothing, and unfortunately in this industry there is a large gap between people who actually know how to train, program effectively, and actually coach movements, versus people who are good cheerleaders, clipboard holders, or put the best mixes on an mp3 player. There is no oversight of the class leader, trainer, or coach’s ability to actually provide the appropriate quality instruction to each individual, nor is there a standard to which all of these professionals are measured. This is confounded by the fact that everyone wears the same damn uniform, so it is unlikely that the naive public will be able to tell the difference from someone who actually knows what they are doing (and why) and someone who’s fresh out of a weekend course with a shiny new piece of paper. In short, holding a certification means jack and the ones who actually are worth the money or time blend in to those who are not. It’s much the same in pretty much every other service-oriented industry, medicine, allied health fields, etc.
On Proper Training:
The point of this statement was that none of these exercise modalities represent the most efficient way to get lean, strong, conditioned, or even move better. This is not to say they do not have value, quite the contrary. It is just a matter of fact that if the same person who shows up for two hour classes a day, 3-4 times a week, religiously, would apply the same fervor and commitment to an actual strength and conditioning program then their results would be exponentially better and be realized more efficiently. A novice gets results from anything because they are a novice, i.e. they are untrained. After this phase exhausts itself, i.e. they become conditioned to the stimulus and it’s subsequent adaptations, then this stimulus fails to yield an adaptation. This is basic human physiology that Selye won a nobel prize for back in the 1930’s. Therefore, it is in the best interest of folks getting into training to use a method of training that can provide the appropriate stimulus for a long period of time, i.e. the dose-response ratio can be carefully monitored and titrated as needed. Certain modalities do not do this effectively, if at all, while others lend themselves well to this. Unfortunately, none of the aforementioned “classes” provide an adequate stimulus for improvement in measurable metrics for anyone outside of the novice phase in any functional way. For instance, can yoga increase flexibility? Yes, it obviously can. However, how flexible does one need to be to sufficiently perform activities of daily life (ADL), be strong, lean, and have a high work capacity? Furthermore, is increased flexibility in certain joints, positions, and movement patterns even healthy or worthwhile? Does having more mobility about the lumbar spine actually help anyone do anything? Does stretching create long, lean, toned muscles? The answer is no, it does none of these things and could actually lead to injury if too great of mobility is rendered. On the other hand, is it possible to be too strong or have too high a work capacity? I submit to you that as strength and work capacity levels wane throughout someone’s life, i.e. they become deconditioned, that they get closer and closer to being rendered obsolete, or closer and closer to being unfit for unassisted living. Can a class like turbokick increase a detrained person’s muscle mass and/or conditioning? Sure, but so could mowing the lawn, walking down a long driveway to get the mail, or walking the dog. The difference is that these classes do not have an incrementally loadable or scalable component to them, and thus, are only appropriate for the select few. Contrast that to barbell training, for instance, where I can have even the most deconditioned person squatting a pvc pipe, wooden dowel, or training bar with correct biomechanics SAFELY in just minutes. Not only will this improve their muscle’s quality, functionality, and density, but it also improves coordination, endurance, stamina, strength, and every other legitimate metric of human function. Did I mention already that it’s safe and incrementally loadable? This is the important distinction to make, and other than efficacy, this is my main issue with the preponderance of these classes.