Is Social Media Ruining the Fitness Industry?

media

Is this a rant? Kind of.

We’ve all seen those insanely shredded, jacked up and perpetually pumped fitness folk with quotes like,“Your only competition is yourself” or “Harness the Power  – Conquer,”  touting a bottle of BCAA’s. Then there are the overly made up, contoured, false eyelashes and all, glamour shots with the side pose-glutes-out-ridiculousness. One more thing, (scratching head) how have some managed to accumulate over 250k + followers? Apparently now everyone is a physique model with a sponsorship. – spoiler alert – or, perhaps just a Canon EOS 7D Mark II.

What’s even more astounding are the sky-high prices (no joke) being offered for “Online Training.” (But still have gmail accounts?) Things that make you go hmm…. Let’s just dispel one thing – no, they are not all organic followers. So, into the spam they go.

To scroll or not to scroll

That is the question. It’s called feed scrolling syndrome and it’s legit. That being said, social media has provided us with a way to constantly occupy ourselves, aimlessly going through picture after picture. As I see it, this really is no genius creation. Back in the day we called them photo albums. The big difference here is that after taking the pictures and anxiously awaiting for them to be developed, we compiled them in an album for display.

According to goodtherapy.org “Young people turn to Instagram, Facebook, and texts to communicate and find a sense of belonging, which can lead to unrealistic expectations of happiness, a decrease in empathy, false presentations of self, and possibly isolation.” 

There is a big difference between doing something to get attention and getting attention doing something. Fuggedabout the apps with filters and the ability to cleverly adjust shadows, contrasts, structure, and brightness. So, sans the perfect overhead lighting and filter, let’s get to the real meat and potatoes shall we?

Instant Fitness

Working out isn’t a glamorous activity. You work up a sweat, at least you are supposed to, so I’m sure mascara in the eye isn’t pleasurable. And do we really need to see another transformation pic? Let’s not get it twisted, I applaud the hard-work. When I think back to my early twenties, and leaner than a walking boneless chicken breast, I had one thing on my mind and that was to build muscle. I poured over magazines, books, and asked everyone I could for advice and those magic tips that would help me get the results I was after. Now we call them “Gains.”

media

Every gym has a mayor. You know, those peacocks who strut around lats’ flared, like they own the place. Except they don’t – they pay a monthly membership fee to be there just like you and me. They like to regal us all with their knowledge so I would ask anyone I could, for pointers and ways to become a mayor just like them. I listened, took the knowledge I thought was relevant, and moved on. I met people in the process too. One day I walked in and people noticed changes. There was no need to say anything. Results speak for themselves.

It’s called social interaction. 

Over time, I began to see results. But not without hard work, sweat, determination, and most of all patience. Once I left the gym exhausted, went into the parking lot and puked. I worked my ass off that day. On one hand I was miserable, and on the other proud. I pushed myself to the limit. This was long before social media, however, and I wouldn’t have felt the need to let people know any way. Particularly not with a “clever spin” one-liner. It was what it was.

The Takeaway 

With age comes wisdom. First, we should never compare ourselves to others. Ever. We are are all individuals, with our own genetic makeup. Second, is progress easy? Hell no. Nothing is. However, when you see the memes about the summit, don’t forget about the mountain. Nothing is instant and results take time. Instead of “transformations” we should be focusing on how to get there. Ways and techniques on how to achieve those results. I applaud the short videos on demonstrating technique. And the ones showing just how creative a person can get with standard attachments and boring routines, are down right brilliant. But what’s with the hair styling videos? I thought you where a “Fitness Model.”   

And just for the record to some of the youngsters: We older folk who have been around, and in more than our fair share of gyms, know the signs and symptoms of, shall we say, someone who isn’t natty. If in fact that word still means “natural.” We know what to recognize. Just saying. (Insert emoticon winking) So, please stop doing what I believe is a major disservice, and telling people its natural – when it isn’t. Just come clean with everyone. Many will probably still follow you.

Hitting the gym on days the sofa calls out, following a nutrition plan designed specifically around your goals, and sticking to it, and continuous hard work, dedication, and sweat pays off. Really, it does. Not everyone aspires to be a physique competitor. We should all aspire to be stronger, healthier versions of ourselves though. 

And so, all rants eventually must come to an end.  Before you go scrolling through inspirational memes again, keep this word in mind: Realness.

For more realness follow @jwilltrain on Twitter.

6 AM – 8 PM Monday – Saturday

By Appointment

“Where you’re headed is more important than how fast you’re going”

Olympic Origins

From the eBook: Inventing Fitness Pt I The Greeks, a Society, and it’s Strength on ↪ Amazon

“Songs lord of the lyre, what god, what hero, what man shall we celebrate”  – From Pindars 2nd Olympian Ode

Hermes, the god of athletes and gymnasiums was believed to have the ability to move freely between the mortal and the divine worlds. For this, he was also the god of boundries and travelers. As Pindar’s Ode suggests, one surefire way to manifest good was to honor the gods with an athletic competition. With their obsession for the human form combined with a deep compulsion to succeed, the greeks of the late Geometric Period formed the first Olympic Games in 776 BCE.

Olympic

On your mark

The word athlete, derived from the greek words athlon  “a prize” and athlos “contest” can be traced as far back as the Iliad and the Odyssey. Again, battle’s, strife and general chaos kept the ancients busy.

The Games, in honor of Zues, were held around his temple the largest in the Peloponnese region. His spectacular statue carved in ivory and gold plate over wood, was also one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. To the nirtheast of this site sits the gymnasium and it’s Palaestra. Our traveler Pausanius has reached the city of the Olympia:

“In the gymnasium of Olympia it is customary for pentathlete’s and runners to practice, and in open made a basement of stone.” 

Excavated ruins show a massive complex measuring 393 feet in length including various rooms. Regulation NFL fields of today measure 360 feet in length. To the south sits the Leonidion, the housing for visiting athletes. Measuring 245 x 265 feet this hotel, this hotel large as it was, still would not have accomodated all who made the pilgrimage. Many competitors likely slept outdoors in the grass during the warm, august months.

Get set

From their inception until the 14th games in 724 BCE, the stadion race was the only competitive event held in Olympia. Named after the building where it was held, it was done so in the nude and covered in olive oil.

Olympic

As a way of warming up the muscles, this habit was a precursor to the pre-event sports massage. Galen, the greek physician speaks of lightly rubbing the skin; “…..but not bruise it.”  A gleaming, toned physique was someting to take pride and care of. Today’s physique competitors and bodybuilders shave all their hair, self tan, and oil their frames specifically to accentuate muscle definition. Hair conceals muscle and bright stage lights wash out skin color. In the 6th century you would have had you’re own regimen and interestingly enough terra cotta dust was thought to open pores. After hours of sweat, dust, and dirt an athlete used an iron device called a strigil to scrape away the layers.

It is important to note that during this time there were no teams – only individuals. No team athens, no team troy, an athlete came with his father, brothers, and his trainer. These athletes were considered preeminent and a win here meant honor to your family and the polis in which you hailed.

Follow @jwilltrain on Twiiter

 

Plateau Shmateau

Everyone gets frustrated from time to time, everyone. It is a human emotion. When it comes to exercising and working out – after first plunging feet first with passion and verve – we begin to see the telltale signs of progress. The too-legit-to-quit kind of progress. Then it seems to level off, reach a stalemate. We ask ourselves, “Wth?”

Plateau

Ain’t gonna steal my thunder

Every trainer, fitness enthusiast and self proclaimed gymrat has their own special way of explaining things. Without using a great deal of complex, scientific mumbo jumbo, I will begin by saying the human body is complex. It also has an amazing ability to adapt to whatever it is we are doing to it. NASM describes something known as SAID, or Specific Adaptations of Imposed Demands. “….our body gets better and more efficient the more it is exposed to the same stimulus.”

Sheer determination

Legend Frank Zane once said, “A lot of guys have better genes but if you work hard and consistently, you can outperform them.” Never one to enjoy being stuck  – nor do I know anyone that does – and also knowing the signs, once I feel like my progress begins to stall I consult my fitness rolodex to shake things up.

Shake it off

Tip one: Keep things simple. Sometimes the most basic of methods can be the most effective. Changing variables can be as easy as reversing the order of the exercises in your current routine. Structure and routine are good, however doing the same reps, for the same exercises, week after month gets dull – and your muscles think so too.

I am also a strong proponent of “muscle confusion”. YES, there is debate on this too. It seems everything is up for debate however this isn’t a soap box, it’s a place to try and share practical advice.

Whether it be my own workouts or a clients, I try to constantly target the muscles from different angles. Again, this can be as easy as adjusting a grip, a bench angle, or standing vs sitting. Once you master proper form – ramp it up.

To show how much things change, my very first exam instructed future trainers to not lecture, or suggest to clients what to eat. I am going to leave this one alone other than saying I’ve always believed diet and nutrition is crucial – and still do.

With some outside the-box-creativity combined with an eye-on-the-prize mentality, you’ll get over the plateaus, revitalize your workouts, and move forward.

6AM – 8PM Monday – Friday

By Appointment

 

Mass Gaining 101

Mass Interest

My fellow ectos, this is for you. Putting on mass and size is hard for us, I know. Rest easy you won’t hear snarky comments around here like, “How nice it must be to have a high metabolism.” The struggle is real.

The most common question I recieve to date is “How do I build more size?” Here in this article, I’ve consolidated what I believe to be all you really need to focus on in order to build not just size, but solid muscle. As well as how to maintain it.

Growing up I was the skinny kid – and nope, it wasn’t fun. For awhile the joke in my family was, “He has a hollow leg.” I could eat and eat and not gain a thing. Clothing hung on my frame – it did not “fit,” and I was picked last for dodge ball in P.E. class every time.

80/20

Our success story begins with what is known as a calorie surplus. In layman’s terms: We need to take in more calories than we are burning off. And since our workouts are monsters designed for us to go heavy and use a lot of energy, we need as much fuel as we can get – hence more calories. Powering through these heavy workouts requires more than just a proprietary blend of pre-workout. Does “bulking” mean we can go to Denny’s every day? No, we still need to make wise choices as we look for more calorie to devour.  

Eating for more muscle isn’t easy. Some days your not going to want to eat like a beast. I would never recommend waking up one day and deciding to go eat 4000 calories. For one you won’t eat the right stuff and two, you will probably get nauseous. Gradual, strategic increases are the “Ah ha” takeaway here.

Protein

Mass

I will go ahead and put this out there, because I feel I need to. If you are vegetarian, against animal proteins, or otherwise have an aversion to meat, this probably ain’t gonna happen the way you want it to. I should say, I’ve yet to see it. Quinoa and Portobello’s just aren’t going to get your sleeves popping – I love both, but protein is a key ingredient in this puzzle and the more lean sources the better.

Gobble Gobble

Turkey and chicken have always been the main players and 1 – 1.5 grams per pound of body weight a safe standard by which to follow. If that sounds like a lot, it is. Attainable? But of course. To help put things in perspective, one turkey patty from Costco has 35 grams of protein. I”ll eat two at a time, sometimes twice a day totally 140 grams. Currently, I am at 194lbs and holding, so with the aforementioned formula – I’ve got 151 grams to go.

Chicken breasts are no longer as expensive as they used to be, knock on wood, and even more budget friendly -thighs and parts. Take the time to trim them, however as a hard gainer, we also need a certain amount of fat. But more on that in a bit.

Mass

“The wise man puts all his eggs in one basket and watches the basket.” Considered the perfect protein source, eggs are a mass gainers staple and I go through an epic amount of them. My cholesterol has been checked, so hardboiled, scrambled, poached, I’ll take em’. One egg contains roughly 6 grams of high quality protein.

Shake it

Finding a good protein supplement is always a good thing. I always say, “If you can’t eat it, drink it.”  Whey protein, a fast digesting protein full of essential amino acids that aid in recovery, is among the best for us. Caesin, a slow digesting protein, acts in a sort of time-release way. Bodybuilders will commonly eat cottage cheese at night before sleeping as it releases over time. Tip: After drinking it, don’t forget to wash your shaker. Trust.

Carbs

I’ve never been a carb-hater. As we know, as a macronutrient, carbohydrates are the bodies natural go to source for energy. For some they are the struggle, however ectomorphs’ are a bit lucky in this area. Finally. We need as much help as we can get, both in the form of slow digesting and fast digesting carbs. In the early days I couldn’t understand why my workout partner insisted on eating white rice after a workout. White rice replenishes glycogen stores. Something depleted when working out harder.

My personal favorite? Spuds. aka Breakfast potatoes.

Mass

Mass building diets often require us to consume things many would otherwise try to cut back or try to eliminate.

Fats

I can’t remember the last time I had a stick of butter in my fridge. Monostaturated fats, like those found in olive oil are in my cabinets though. Fat is an energy source and ectos looking for mass need them. Save the saturated fats like onion rings, the no-no’s, for a cheat meal.

Timing is everything

In real estate it’s all about location, location, location. When it comes to building muscle the frequency of meals is equally as important.

Once, during what I call my “Golds Days” I remember bodybuilders sitting on the Calf Raise machine eating egg salad out of their Tupperware containers. That might be taking things to a new level, but they where dedicated and I respect that. Gains take discipline, dedication, and strategically placed meals.

Habit forming

While waiting 20 or even 30 minutes post workout to get your grub on probably won’t stop your gains, there is a “window of opportunity” to replenish. Over the years I worked as catering staff for large events – weddings, fundraisers, that sort of thing. Once, working an event at a beautiful winery a coworker, a young woman, asked me if I would keep an eye out for a supervisor. Why? She went on to explain she was a Women’s Physique Competitor and it was time for her to eat. And out she produced a ziplock bag with 2 cooked chicken breasts. She won her first competition out. Just saying.

Meals need to be as evenly spaced throughout the day as possible. It’s been said that after doing something for 21 days it becomes a habit. Get in the habit of consuming some form of high quality protein and carb every three (3) hours or so.  I learned to keep powder for a shake as well as a carb supplement (that tasted like chalk) on hand as often as possible. Particularly while I was at work, or if I had to skip a meal.

No longer strictly a bodybuilder or physique competitor practice, meal prepping has caught on and rightfully so. For us average folks that just want to build solid muscle, it is just as important and works the same. By trading the mobile device for a few pots and pans just a couple of hours each week, meal prepping is one habit that done correctly, will not only keep your taste buds satisfied, but keep you on the fast track to success out of the gym.

Lower Rep Ranges

Here’s the thing: Mass building requires stimulating the muscle fibers differently than say, someone trying to get leaner. Workout routines are not a one-size-fits-all. In an attempt to keep this as simple as possible I’ll put it like this: Fast twitch fibers or IIa. those that use fat and glycogen stores for energy, recover quickly. We’re talking deadlifts, squats, and keeping rep ranges below 10. Ectomorphs also can train more frequently. If we don’t use it we lose it.

Mass

Sleep 

When we are young, burning the midnight oil isn’t difficult at all. I remember working double shifts in a restaurant, hanging out late, and then doing it all again the next day. And then again.

As a serious weightlifters we want results, so while everyone else is out popping bottles, we’re at home chillin’ like a villain – feet up, and ready to count some sheep. Dead-lifts and mass building workouts are taxing, not only on our bodies but our central nervous systems. Overtraining is real and the more you give yourself time to recover, the more you give yourself the ability to keep building.

Mass Plan 

Back in the day, before things got so “scientific” legends like Frank Zane, were on a simple mission. The plan was workout hard, eat whole foods, and win the trophy.

Mass

My fellow ecto’s, have a plan, adhere to these basic principles, and I’m telling you there will come a day when you do go out, and people say:

“Damn, you’ve been working out.”

6AM – 8PM Monday – Saturday

By Appointment