If you are reading this article on Herculean Strength then chances are you have already chosen the path of health and strength. Awesome.
This article isn’t for you. I’m not going to ask you to stop reading, but what I am going to ask you to do is send this article to a friend, loved one or colleague that hasn’t made the same choices that you have – yet. I’m being serious when I tell you that it could save their life.
Physical fitness: life and death
Some background. I have recently started a coaching gig in a ‘boutique’ fitness gym in the UK. It’s not really what I got into strength and fitness to do, but the atmosphere is good and the pay is regular and generous. This gym was created by an accomplished powerlifter, martial artist and all-around athlete, and yet it is pitched at people who are, well, none of those things.
The clientele of this gym are regular people. They are generally professionals with a comfortable financial existence and the benefit of leisure time. Another thing they all have in common is that they are terrified of going to a ‘normal’ gym.
I do mean terrified. For some, the thought of a 7ft barbell is enough to bring on heavy breathing. Speaking to the customers, many of them feel isolated by the concept of ‘working out’ and don’t even know where to begin. They feel embarrassed and self-conscious about stepping foot in the local commercial gym. They don’t know how to train but they have recognised, eventually, that they must do something for their fitness and overall health.
So they go to the boutique gym. Here, everything is taken care of. Programming, coaching, all of it. All they need to do is pay their rather hefty monthly fee and turn up. The gym takes care of everything else.
I’m not knocking it – it’s a great place to work, the owner clearly loves their job and company, and the customers are happy. But why?
These people are not gym rats, not even close. For many, for a long time, the thought of doing anything physical led them to feel highly anxious. One young man, on his first session, had to go outside and throw up three times. One of those times was just during the warm up. The heaviest deadlift I have seen performed here is 135lbs.
For me, as someone who has been in and around gyms since I was sixteen years of age, this attitude is puzzling. Yet I am the minority here, not these good people. I have always loved the buzz of a busy gym (not Monday evening in January busy, that’s a different story) and the feeling of being on the platform or in the rack is my hobby, passion and main focus.
Fitness in 2022 is a growth industry but still a niche one. Most of our aging western population is still unfit. Working in the boutique gym, I am staggered by the inability of relatively young customers to do things I have always taken for granted.
One guy cannot get his hands straight above his head, and he is not yet 30. One woman cannot perform a single push up, even modified so that it’s done from her knees. Another customer cannot perform a hip hinge. I’m not even on about touching his toes, I mean he cannot bend from the waist. At all. These are all successful people and yet do not have the most basic biomechanical skills at their disposal. The hip-hinge guy is a doctor.
We are walking into a crisis of physicality. No government can cajole us into action. You have to make a personal choice.
Everyone knows that health outcomes are linked to physical fitness. Even the World Health Organisation, whose thoughts I’d prefer to ignore, identifies that:
“regular physical activity promotes both mental and physical health. It is beneficial for people of all ages and abilities, and it is never too late to start being more active and less sedentary to improve health”.
Later in the same report they reach some staggering conclusions. With regards to the financial costs of our sedentary society, they declare:
“The economic burden of physical inactivity is large. Globally, almost 500 million (499 208 million) new cases of preventable NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) will occur between 2020 and 2030, incurring treatment costs of just over US$ 300 billion (INT$ 524 billion) or around US$ 27 billion (INT$ 48 billion) annually if there is no change in the current prevalence of physical inactivity. Nearly half of these new cases of NCDs (47%) will result from hypertension, and 43% will result from depression.”
So even the globalists are worried. And if you take the maxim that you should only believe half of what the authorities tell you, the reality is probably much bleaker.
So what can be done?
In the short term, if you or someone you know is chronically sedentary, we can do some simple but practical things which will have a big impact. If your journey is less than a mile away, walk or even cycle. Practice getting up off the floor twice a day. That could literally save your life. Get a dog (cats are cool but they have a tendency to walk themselves). Join a local walking group, or if that sounds too boring, join a local hiking group. At the most extreme cases, anything is better than nothing. 30 minutes of light physical exertion every single day is a good focus point to begin.
On a more intermediary level, join a gym. There really is nothing to be scared of. Work with a Personal Trainer but be sure to speak to them first and find out what their ethos is. If they only believe in squat, bench and deadlift then they’re not the trainer for you. Similarly, if they don’t believe in those lifts at all, they’re also not the trainer for you. The ideal Personal Trainer is one who recognises their client’s immediate needs but can also envision the path to growth. You might be horrified about the prospect of a deadlift now, but you may also find that when you master the very basics of movement that you want to progress as far as possible and this will mean resistance training. Also, it’s great fun.
As a society, we need to stop venerating laziness. Whereas once the couch potato was a figure of fun, now it has become a badge of honour. Homer Simpson was not intended as an aspirational figure. There is nothing wrong with ‘chillout days’ and ‘cheat meals’ but the whole point of these is that they are the exception, not the norm. You don’t deserve a rest day because you walked 30 minutes yesterday.
We are at a precipice, and it is no exaggeration to think that our society in 10-20 years will be ordered into those who are physically fit and those who are not. Worldwide, the health systems are creaking, food is being robbed of its nutrition and you are encouraged at all times to ‘take it easy’. Don’t.
If you are physically inactive you are opening yourself up to myriad diseases and disorders. Poor mental health follows poor physical health. You risk being unable to help your family when they need you, to protect your children or support your ageing parents. Your own body will begin to let you down.
Making the choice to be physically active is the best thing that you can do for yourself and your family. Inactive people die sooner and have poorer health until that point. No-one is asking you to become a marathon runner or a powerlifter. But moderate exercise three times a week for 30-45 minutes is both achievable and realistic.
It will improve your life, and the lives of those who love and rely on you. Make a choice – and make it now.
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