Enough with the abs

As a fitness professional, sometimes I have to play a little game of clean-up on aisle three and basically tell people that something they’ve always heard and believed to be true is actually a lie. To be honest, this game makes me feel a little like a small Dutch child, trying to plug leaks in the dyke with my fingers. My choice of profession, however, makes me worry that sooner or later, I’m going to run out of digits and end up on the business end of a bursting dam. That’s my overly-wordy way of saying there’s a lot of BS in the fitness industry.

If you take a quick stroll down the magazine aisle, your eyes will quickly find the fitness section – a wall of eerily shiny abdominal muscles that I can only assume exist to make everyone feel like an underachiever in the game of life. Apparently underachievers are good for the magazine business, however, because they sure spend a lot of money to learn what ab workout the person on the cover did to look like that. Here’s a quick hint that could save you a couple bucks: that person doesn’t look that way because of the workout on page 62. Want to know how it actually happens? Read this article: http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/diet_and_fitness/article7122173.ece

Abs are probably the single biggest money-maker in the fitness industry. A simple Google search for “ab machine” turns up a wide assortment of equipment that, were it not for the skinny person with the creepy grin inside it, would look like a device used to interrogate bad guys in spy movies. Starting from the top, I see sponsored ads for the Countour Ab Belt, Ab Glider and AbRocket Twister (full disclosure: I may or may not have clicked on a couple of these just to cost the company responsible for this garbage a buck or two… I never said I wasn’t petty). The regular results include the Ab Circle, Ab Lounge, and other equally stupid investments. Just about every DVD fitness program has a workout dedicated exclusively to ab exercise. Insanity has “Insane Abs.” P90X has the “Ab Ripper” (sounds painful).

“So what’s wrong with that?” you may be asking. Well, for starters, I don’t care how many crunches you do, spot reduction is still utter nonsense. You can’t tell your body where to put that doughnut you just ate, and you can’t tell it where to take it off, either. That’s right, crunches won’t burn ab fat, side bends won’t rid you of your muffin top, triceps extensions won’t cure those wobbly underarms, and those ridiculous inner/outer thigh machines in the gym? They belong in an OB/GYN office far more than they belong in a health club.

Better yet (or should it be worse yet… probably not important), just about every ab workout or piece of ab equipment has the same problem – they’re designed to get you to perform the exact same movements that are associated with lumbar disc herniations. That’s right – your “fitness celebrities” are all advising you to do exercises that are stupid and dangerous… and you wonder why I don’t like being called a personal trainer.

I’ll have more on this later, but for the moment, the takeaway is this – stop worrying so much about your abs. Or, at the very least, stop spending so much money on them. I promise you, neither you nor I is going to look like a fitness cover model, and that’s okay!

‘Til next time!


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