One habit I’ve taken up of late is to review the latest trends in the fitness world. Not that I’m a particularly trendy guy. I’m a CPA, which is as far from swanky and fashionable as professions can get. But I like to see what people are doing on the off chance that I might find something to add to my exercise regimen, especially if it’s something I can fit in with minimal effort.
But sadly, this can cause one to lose faith in humanity. Because people do some weird stuff. Especially people who inhabit the suburbs. And not any suburbs. The type of suburbs inhabited by people who take their Shih-Tzus to Starbucks and write screenplays no one will ever use while downing lattes and scones. In other words, yuppies. At least, that’s what they were called in the eighties and nineties. Who knows what Zoomers call these overly trendy Tesla owners these days.
Anyway, I found a variety of exercise trends. This includes silly stuff that appears to have been created by fancy folk who had one too many mimosas with brunch, some stuff that actually appears dangerous, and maybe one or two things that is actually sensible. So I figured I’d document these here and share my unwanted opinions on them.
One that I see repeatedly is “Reverse Running”. And, no, that’s not a clever play on words. That’s literally what you think it is. Also known as “Running Backwards.” Also known as, “Hilarious YouTube Videos Waiting to Happen.” In fairness, there are benefits to running backwards. Apparently, it’s good for your posture and balance and burns more calories than running forward. And apparently, it’s easier on your knees than normal running, so you can even do it while injured. Or just generally suffering from old man/woman knees. But there’s a problem.
I can’t think of a single place where this would be safe. The only place where you wouldn’t run into other people would be an isolated place in the Rockies where you’re likely to fall off a cliff. Or an isolated place in the Everglades where you’re likely to get eaten by an alligator. And it’s not even safe to do this inside. You’ll probably bump into furniture. You’ll definitely knock over the china. And your wife’s Highly Trained Psycho Assassin Capable of Unbelievable Feats of Agility (cat) will almost certainly step behind you. I’ve noticed they like to jump right in front of people when they’re moving around the house. Especially if they have a plate of food or something breakable in their hands. Tripping their human oppressors is a pastime of theirs.
So, this exercise, combined with inevitable feline mischief, will likely cause you to trip and break your neck. And the cat, being a cat, will then eat what’s left of you. So even though running like this is a way to go easy on your knees if you’re injured, it’s also an excellent way to obtain new injuries. Or death. And possibly the kind of death where an animal eats the evidence off your passing.
Another thing I came across is Stroller Fitness. And no, it isn’t something posh English people do while strolling around London with bowler hats and canes. It involves having your baby in a stroller and somehow including this in an exercise regimen. This sounds like something that I’ll see in a Progressive insurance commercial in the future about things people do when they’re becoming their parents. Assuming their parents are weirdo, new agey, yoga pants wearing types.
Exercising with babies in tow isn’t that new. We’ve all seen new moms jogging with their strollers. And occasionally forcing their husbands to do it with them. But it’s not just about jogging with a stroller. It also involves things like doing lunges or squats or stretches or things while holding on to the stroller. All of these things are good for you, but I’m not sure the baby should be involved. Adherents of this craze say you’re “engaging” with your infants. Which is true, if by “engaging” they mean “confusing the hell out of them”.
I’ve also discovered that there’s a new type of gym membership that is apparently the result of the Neo-Captain Trips virus that emerged into the world two years ago. These are called “Hybrid Gym Memberships”. This is the result of increasing demand for gym memberships that give us the option of working out online instead of showing up in person. Which seems a bit strange to me, since the whole point of the gym membership is having access to all of the fancy fitness gear that you can’t afford if you’re not a Silicon Valley wannabe cyborg (Zuckerburg) or wannabe space traveler (Musk) or a neo-robber baron fund manager (basically anyone who works at Blackrock or Vanguard).
But apparently, some people want the option of putzing around their house when they exercise. This is the direct result of people being afraid of planting their posteriors on a sweaty bench that might have been occupied previously by a carrier of the Darkness That Came From Wuhan. Which I find a little strange, since there are probably plenty of other nasty things that you could obtain by sitting on someone else’s sweaty grossness, but we only just now started worrying about this.
Anyway, weightlifting and so forth at a gym is good for you, but don’t bother spending money if you’re not going to go there. I did the “hybrid” part of hybrid gym memberships for a full year in 2020, and it cost me bupkis. It doesn’t make sense to pay for it. Why ruin your workout by making a Zoom call to a gym, when you can just do the workout while catching up on the latest season of Peaky Blinders? This is an abomination, one of many cultural trends that are apparently just knock-on effects of gain of function research gone wrong.
Another peculiar thing I’ve found is Mini-Workouts. These are (ostensibly) for people who can’t spare 30 minutes to an hour for a workout or don’t want to commit to a more intensive regimen. So instead, people will slot in a five-to-ten-minute weightlifting or cardio regime at random times during the day. Seems like a great way to squeeze exercise into the schedule, right?
Wrong. This whole thing is crap. Pretty much everybody can make time for a full workout. The truth is, most people have four hours or so of leisure time available each day, so the idea that they can’t spare the time (barring highly unusual circumstances) is laughable. And if you’re not willing to commit to a more intensive workout, just get used to being fat. A mini workout isn’t an innovation in fitness. This is how the ADHD TikTok generation gets their exercise. But if they lack the commitment to do a normal workout, this won’t end well. If this becomes a general thing, the Zoomers will inevitably slide into obesity, and we’ll all be living in Wall-E soon.
But not all trendy workouts are nonsensical. One that I see a lot of is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This involves short bursts of activity with periods of rest. These consist of various bodyweight exercises (although you can use weights) and include a variety of options. And the technology addicted younger people can easily adopt these, since there are apps that will let them design a workout. Which is fortunate, since we all know that everyone under thirty needs their phone to tell them what to do next.
This type of workout is championed by Jillian Michaels. You know, the fitness instructor who looks like a real-life version of Sarah Connor. And not the original Sarah Connor, the super buff one in Terminator 2. And since she looks like she could easily take on Robert Patrick or Arnold Schwarzenegger, it clearly is a highly effective workout.
The last thing I saw was Mind-Body exercising. Of course this is a thing, since there always has to be something involving “feels” in the early twenty-first century. Assorted suburbanites are focusing on “holistic” programs which focus on fitness and easing stress and anxiety. One would think focusing on mental health is good. But it’s not, because it’s superfluous.
All exercise is mind-body. All exercise helps with stress and anxiety and improves overall mental health. Also, something tells me that the people involved in these mind-body workouts are going to be the insufferable types with fluffy and useless dogs in their purses who spend the entire workout chattering about their last visit to the country club. I think your mental health might be better if you avoid these types of people altogether.
So, with the exception of HIIT, which will probably prepare you for the robot apocalypse that Zuckerberg and Musk will cause (or the zombie apocalypse caused by the next thing to come from Wuhan) these things are…ridiculous. I mean, I get how new moms might want to work in exercise around childcare, but there should be a way to do so without giving newborns PTSD. And I admire coming up with innovative new ways to exercise but running backwards seems like a good way to get run over by a bus. As for the things involving Zoom fitness and mini-workouts, one of the biggest benefits of a workout is the opportunity to unplug from the world. This should be a way to reduce attention disorders amongst young people, but hybrid gym memberships and mini-workouts probably do the opposite. And the Mind-Body focus is unnecessary. If you focus on the body workout, the mind will settle itself down.
So I guess the main thing here is that if you want to get in shape, maybe you shouldn’t follow trends. Sure, occasionally a good one (HIIT) will pop up, but for the most part, these are the exercise equivalent of the Tide Pod challenge. A stupid trend that may, in some cases, hurt you, and will probably vanish in a year or so.