Fads come and go, but bottom line: Do what works and don’t sweat the rest
The temperature outside is rising — which means we need to think about hitting the gym, if we aren’t doing so already.
And we do need to hit it. Less than 5 percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. It’s pretty shocking that 95 percent of us are couch potatoes.
We hear the statistics — yet we still don’t move. Why? We’re exhausted, we’re busy, and it’s hard to begin a workout routine. The road ahead looks too long and too hard. And when we do finally decide to exercise, we tend to think about shortcuts. What will get us in shape the fastest?
“When I hear about a new exercise program or product, I tend to think, ‘Ah! They’ve finally invented something that will really snap me into shape!’ Why do I think that? Because hope springs eternal and maybe we just haven’t found that magic bullet yet,” Carole Purcell, 51, of Baltimore, Maryland, said.
Those who sell workout products are very good at their jobs. You know the drill — you’re slumped on the couch at 11 p.m., a can of soda at your elbow and the remnants of a can of Pringles on your lap. Suddenly an infomercial comes on, featuring an incredibly toned class of extremely motivated individuals dressed in skintight workout clothes. Their smiles are so wide you are actually smiling back at them from your couch. Their lives have literally been changed by the workout they are selling — they’ve dropped pounds, gained friends, and their online dating profile is on fire. And it was all so easy!
Out comes the credit card — and away flies your better judgment.
Here are just a few workout fads or products that have come and gone:
The Shake Weight. Due to the “suggestive” look of this workout on its commercial, the Shake Weight was instant late-night fodder. It pulsates as you use it, creating a bicep workout. “I read an article about Michelle Obama’s arms and how more women wanted the ‘right to bare arms,’” Johann Verheeom told Inc.com. “I thought suddenly it was the perfect time to come out with the Shake Weight.”
FitnessIQ has sold more than two million Shake Weights. I haven’t tried this (and tons of people may never have even heard of it) – but I think I lost a few pounds laughing at the Jimmy Kimmel skit.
Prancercise. If you ever see someone prancing down the street like a kid on a pretend horse — don’t worry. They’re simply Prancercising. Joanne Rohrback, its fanciful creator, has a YouTube video that has received over 12 million views (yes, 12 million).
To Prancercise, simply strap on some ankle weights and prance like a horse! (Or how you think a horse would prance.) You don’t even need workout clothes — Rohrback, for some reason, is always nicely dressed up when she prances. I have tried this exercise — when I was five. My sister and I played My Little Pony when I was a child. But not since then.
Waist Training. All you have to do to shrink your waist using this method is cinch your waist very tightly with a training corset, and then be miserable for most of the day. “Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but the rewards are great. Your waist does shrink!” one Boston, Massachusetts, user said. Models used to have a few ribs removed to make their waists slimmer, too — but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
So what’s the best plan to achieve your workout goals, based on anecdotal experience?
1.) Start slowly and celebrate smaller goals. If you haven’t exercised in years, remember that anything with “camp” in its name isn’t going to be fun (like some of those kids’ camps you remember). Instead, walk a mile and really enjoy that mile. If you enjoy it, chances are good you’ll walk more than a mile next time.
2.) Don’t make the songs on your playlist too slow. You will actually walk backwards if you’re exercising to James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain,” as much as you may love the song.
3.) Work out with buddies. A mile walked with friends is a short mile. And you won’t have to text each other all day to catch up on the latest news.
4.) Don’t beat yourself up or compare yourself to others. Just move forward. You are the way you are right now for a reason — maybe you’ve had to work extra hours for the last few months, or between work and the kids you’ve been running ragged. Just start slowly, with a plan for the week, and stick with it. Not for your looks, but for your health and your peace of mind.
And seriously — only Prancercise if you are really, really feeling it.