The fitness world is filled with an immensely diverse collection of characters, styles, likes, dislikes, and perspectives. I think we can all agree that we have no shortage of variety. However, there are certain traits/tastes that seem to be particularly characteristic of a “fitness enthusiast” or “exercise expert” in many people’s eyes. Certain stereotypical qualities, if you will.
I’m not that guy.
What follows is a list (though not exhaustive) of the ways in which I’m a terrible “Fitness Guy” —
1) I hate cardio. I mean HATE it.
Don’t get me wrong — I’ll be the first to tell you about the benefits of cardiovascular training (whether we’re talking about improving arterial compliance and peripheral blood flow, strength/endurance/efficiency of the heart muscle itself, or oxygen uptake and metabolism within the muscles). The upsides are numerous.
I just can’t stand doing it. At least steady-state cardio. Put me on a treadmill or elliptical for more than a few minutes, and I’m losing my mind. I might get up to 20-25 minutes on an Arc Trainer on a good day, but that’s about it. I personally prefer martial arts and the sort of interval training that it brings with it as my source of cardiovascular training.
2) Deadlifts? Fat chance.
I neither have the build to perform barbell deadlifts easily, nor the patience to work them into an already stacked regimen. I give mad props to people who do them and benefit. But I don’t find them to be a particularly effective use of my time (again, due to my odd body proportions, injury history, etc.). That doesn’t mean I won’t do them on occasion. But they’re not a major goal in my training, as I don’t see myself having to heft a barbell-like object from the floor with precise form any time in my near future.
3) I’ve got a crazy sweet tooth.
Anyone who knows me well is no doubt aware of my ability to devour chocolate chip cookies by the sleeve (back when Chips Ahoy came in sleeves, anyway). If I’m having a rough day or week, it’s not uncommon for me to compensate by eating my feelings. Is this healthy behavior? HELL NO. But I still do it. I rationalize, I fall off the wagon, I give into cravings just like every other normal person. In fact, I can do it in spectacular fashion. And it does hold me back from making better progress, particularly in body composition.
4) I don’t really like sports.
In a field where athletic performance is rarely far from one’s mind, a guy like me sticks out like a sore thumb. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve left people with puzzled looks on their faces after telling them that, “No, I DIDN’T watch the game last night. I was busy reading.” It’s as though it doesn’t compute for them.
This was particularly glaring for me, as I grew up in the South. Football was a huge fixture in my hometown. Since I pursued kinesiology degrees in sports-loving towns, it was quite rare my teachers seemed to think of any biomechanics- or physiology-related example that DIDN’T involve a ball. Color me annoyed. I feel that, while a fun pastime, sports aren’t the be-all, end-all of this field and aren’t the main reason why we study the human body. Not by a long shot.
This hasn’t earned me many friends in this field :-P
5) I don’t prep meals.
If you have the patience, planning, and consistency to cook and prepare your meals for the week all at once, I say do it. It often takes the guess work out of what to eat and can really streamline your day. It’s especially useful for those who have hectic schedules.
But I don’t do it. The last thing I feel like doing on a Sunday evening is portioning out food into baggies or plastic tubs for the week. Just doesn’t appeal to me, and I figure I’ll make it through a day without it.
6) I don’t have a set schedule.
That is, I don’t do the same thing at the same time every day or week when it comes to exercise. I tend to go whenever I feel like it. Now luckily for me, that still results in 4 or 5 days a week at the gym because I enjoy it, but I don’t normally treat my workouts as a planned thing. Some days I’ll go around noon, while other days will see me there around closing time. It just depends on what is convenient for me that day (and it usually has nothing to do with a work/school schedule).
As is the case with meal planning/prep, I highly recommend that people DO get into a routine. For most people, just going to the gym when they want to won’t cut it, because that sort of motivation is hard to come by. So if you can establish a plan and stick to it, do that!
7) My favorite pastime? Movies and video games.
Many fit pros who fit the “mold” will say that they love to hike, explore nature, ride their bike, or do yoga in their spare time. While I certainly can enjoy these sorts of activities, my “default” leisure activity is likely goofing off playing games on my computer or going to the movies. I was born a nerd in the very stereotypical sense, and that part of me is never going to go away.
So if you want to know what I’m doing many late nights when I’m not working or studying? I’m probably hunched over my computer or otherwise parked in front of a screen engrossed in some fantasy world. That’s my idea of a great time!
Why am I saying all of this?
Because it’s important to remember that trainers and other fitness pros are more than just the stereotyped versions we see portrayed on television. We’re human beings, and we carry all of the flaws you’d expect. We try to lead by example and encourage others to live a healthier lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean we always do a perfect job. Furthermore, we may be satisfied with only being in “pretty good” shape instead of being contest ready. That’s a choice every trainer, like every other person, must make for him/herself.
So for those out there who struggle with their fitness in some way, take heart — you don’t have to be perfect. Make improvements any place you can, and realize that at the end of the day, even the best of us is only human. We’ve been there. We’re still there every day. So don’t beat yourself up.