When I was a newly qualified personal trainer all those years ago, I bounded into my first gym job overflowing with enthusiasm. I felt like I was going to change the world and help every single person do every exercise as perfectly as possible. Then I realised that I was being stupid.
It’s the same thing every new year. Everywhere you look there are endorsements from celebrities for a ‘new’ diet or the ‘new’ way to get in shape. "Hi, I’m [insert name of minor celebrity here], I used to look like this [cut to photo of said celebrity on a sun-kissed beach looking like a washed-up walrus in a floral bikini]. Now I look and feel fabulous thanks to this miracle diet/exercise regime/meal replacement drink. Find out how I did it in my new DVD/six-part serialisation/book, blah blah ...."
There is only one sure-fire way to look and feel healthy long term. There are no tricks, no short cuts, and no miracle drinks that will do the job. It takes hard work, dedication and sensible eating. OK, I’ll admit Naomi Campbell, Demi Moore and the like do have a point; two weeks of maple syrup, lemon and pepper will result in a huge weight loss, but is that good for you? I don't think so. However, with so many ‘miracle solutions’ out there, it’s worth remembering at this time of year that most of them are not a healthy way of getting that perfect beach body and staying in shape.
So why do the media insist on pumping out all this celebrity-endorsed garbage every January? I’ll tell you why, because people buy it. If a Hollywood A-lister wandered down the red carpet and said, "I got this fabulous body after eating healthy food and many months of gruelling workouts, sweat and dedication," would it sell magazines?
Oh, and while I’m on the subject, there I am, sitting in front of the TV the other morning with my porridge ahead of my 6am client, and it’s time for another advert. Up pops a perfectly tanned American ‘celebrity’ telling me how he has carved himself abs so hard and defined he can play tunes on them. All he had to do was use this new contraption for 10 minutes a day. Yes! Just 10 minutes a day! Crikey I’ve got to get me one of those. Here, have a cheque for $69.99 … as my first installment.
Not sure if you’ve noticed but I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to new gadgets and fads. The fitness industry is full of them, and as long as the public believes there is this quick fix to the holy grail of a perfect body, the fitness industry will still be full of them. One of my clients used to have a trainer who would buy all of these things on first sight because he thought it gave him the edge. What, in fact, it did do was put the client’s back out and lose him a paying customer.
It's my responsibility as a fitness professional to regard any new idea or device with a large chunk of caution and only use it with my clients after I’ve read all the research and seen a clear benefit for myself. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great products out there but fortunately most new crazes are little more than light entertainment while I’m having my breakfast. We all know that sensible eating and hard training gets results. So why try to reinvent the wheel?
Paul Mumford is a personal trainer, writer and broadcaster. He owns the Mumford Phys. Ed. training company in Essex. www.mumfordphysed.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Fitness Professionals Ltd or Virtual Magazine. Consult a qualified health or fitness professional before making changes to your diet or exercise.