Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fitness Craze Madness!

Warning: This Post May Contain Trace Amounts of Ranting and Sarcasm

This Sunday we were heading back from Church in the van. Jobina mentioned yet another person she knows who was enjoying her Zumba class. Zumba, in case you didn't know it, is the latest fitness craze. How do I know? Because everyone is talking about it of course! And because they are leaving behind their old fitness crazes to do it. I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about Zumba but I find the slogan on their web site compelling:

"Ditch the Workout, Join The Party!"

If you go to their website you can see from the pictures that the people are very, very happy. Perhaps they are just having a party and noticed that they were getting fit? I'd be happy too!

When the kids asked what Zumba was I explained it like this; it is the latest fitness craze. Every 6-12 months a new craze comes out and everyone abandons the past craze to take on the newer, shinier one. Then people stay in it for awhile, gushing to all of their friends how they have lost a few pounds and are having so much fun. You have to try it, they say. Then you buy the DVD or join a class. After a few weeks (a couple of months if you are serious about working out) most people stop working out all together. They remain quiet and look at the floor when people ask them how their ________ class is going. Sadness and depression sometimes sink in. Then, just when it appears to be too late, the next fitness craze comes around the corner. Thank goodness! Everyone is saved! Then the cycle repeats itself . . .

My theory is that fitness crazes will continue to be successful (but with short shelf lives) because they do two things. First, they promise a way to make exercise fun again that is very compelling. Our human nature that craves creativity and variety will find almost all exercise to be repetitive rather quickly and so we jump at the chance for something new. It's like crack cocaine to us. Secondly, fitness crazes usually appeal to our sense of laziness. We want to be fit without putting in too much time, effort, and sweat. Thus, each craze suggests that their way is the most efficient way to get fit quickly and with minimal effort. "Only 12 minutes a day!" "Workout while you watch TV!" "Easier then getting up!" (OK, I made that last one up, but you get the idea).

The problem is that exercise is tough. It takes something called discipline, it requires work, it hurts, and even with creativity it is very, very repetitive. Nothing will change that. Even Zumba is little match for reality. The people who do well with fitness crazes are the ones who possess the discipline, work ethic, time, and willingness to suffer that all people who eventually get in shape have. The rest end up with a closet full of fitness DVD's for things like Tae-Bo, Military Boot Camps, P-90X, Pilates, Wii Fit, Pole Dancing, Richard Simmons, Belly Dancing, etc. that mostly gather dust.

Personally, I could try and fight against the fitness craze but I'm too canny for that. Instead I introduce to you the newest fitness craze:


Cold Yoga was developed either in the frozen wilds of Siberia or by elves at the North Pole (whichever seems to better received by focus groups). It's based on the fact that people like Yoga (and that Hot Yoga is already being replaced by Zumba which is yesterday's news) and . . . science. Yes, powerful science! Research has proven that if you stay for extended periods of time in very cold temperatures you will definitely lose weight! In fact, people who go winter camping, for instance, can't actually gain weight, their bodies burn it off too quickly no matter what they eat. Cold Yoga consists of you doing Yoga outside in the snow and in extremely frigid conditions. And it's soooooo fun!! Sometimes people will even throw snowballs at each other and stuff. And go ahead and eat whatever since your body will metabolize things as you battle frostbite. The pounds practically melt off! Look for official DVD series "COLD YOGA: Stop being warm, start being fit" at a retailer near you. Or look for classes at your local fitness studio, equipped with artificial snow, -20 temperatures, and branded ear muffs. Tell your friends!


Jobina said...

You could make a fortune in the Territories and Alaska Sweetie! I loved reading through the list of crazes...did you look in our dvd cupboard before you did that? Not that I've tried the pole dancing (no pole, you see) but I can check off all the others! As long as people keep moving and keep putting effort into getting fit, that's what really matters. I guess there's gonna be a few lucky entrepreneurs getting rich though along the way :o)

Lindsey said...


P90X (not xp-90) is pretty awesome. And Zumba is lots of fun. But I do agree with you, fitness crazes come and go so fast. People do need to just accept the fact that working out will be just that, work. And of course it can be fun, but there will always be days that it isn't fun. The key is just to have the discipline to keep going. Something I REALLY need right now!

Warren said...

This post is exactly why I read your blog! Nicely said.

Elayne said...

Thanks Mark! You just reminded me how much money I have saved by sticking to my 1 hr/day walking schedule with my friends! It really is FUN to get the fresh air, exercise, and stimulating conversation and it costs whatever fuel I used to get to the park (usually a 5 min. drive)! WOW! I think I need to go shopping with all the money I've saved!

Jay Boaz said...

Hate to break it to you bud, but Zumba has been around for at least 2 years, probably closer to 3. Therefore I find your rant about the "latest thing" to be funny . :)

Mark said...

Lindsey: Thanks, I corrected that.
Jay: When I said that Zumba was now the latest thing I meant it in the sense of it hitting the tipping point in becoming extremely popular - regardless of how long is has been around for awhile. Most of these systems languish in relative obscurity for many years before they become the "it" thing for a significant population.

It's probably also good to clarify that I don't have anything against a good exercise system - just the marketing that takes advantage of our human weakness and the way we deceive ourselves into thinking "this will be the one!" It's the discipline, not the system, that helps people successfully meet their fitness goals.