The Fallacy of Fitness in the City

What happens when people take “fitness fun” and social media too far?

If you are active on social media these days, you can definitely relate to what I’m about to tell you. Personally, I love keeping up with my friends, family, and the wide variety of people that I’ve met throughout the years. Time is precious, and it’s extremely difficult for us to keep up with everyone we know. They are all part of your unique life experience, and personally, I’m glad to see that most of them are doing well.

On Instagram and Facebook, it’s clear what kind of posts dominate personal profiles and appear on our feeds. Big life events like moving to a new place or marriage & love. Breath-taking views from their latest travel excursions. Memorable get-togethers with family & friends. And updates on the progress of their latest projects or life goals, including those that involve health & fitness.

Today we are of the mindset that the things we experience in life are more important than the things we own or possess. I couldn’t agree more. These days, shopping malls are struggling because people are looking for things to do and places to be; not things to buy.

This mindset has also permeated the realm of health & fitness. In reality though, the experience factor has always been a cornerstone of the field. The pursuit of health and fitness has always been about living life to the fullest and feeling good with the body and mind you have; that’s about as “experiences over material things” as it gets.

New York City is saturated with countless options to pursue health and fitness. On every block there is a boutique fitness studio, commercial gym, or some trendy health-conscious eatery. It’s what some call the “Urban Fitness Revolution”. One day you can go spinning against all the other people in your class; on another day you can compete like an athlete in a team-based workout. Maybe you can do barre or dance on another day, and top that off with an acai bowl from around the corner. It’s clear that cityfolk are on top of the latest health & fitness trends, for better or worse.

Unfortunately, the combination of this mentality and the powerful pull of social media puts a lot of pressure on us to show our best side and post about all the cool stuff we’re doing. It’s almost as if we’re trying to yell out “hey, I’m doing phenomenal” to everyone in the world, whether they care or not. Unfortunately, there’s no fun in lifting weights or running on a treadmill in a traditional commercial gym. I’d be bored too if you told me that this was the only way to get healthy and fit.

This is why for so many people these days, training has to be fun, engaging, and a good experience. It has to be worthy of an Instagram post, otherwise, what’s the point of training anyway?

Many people now equate fitness with entertainment. The problem now though is that we are starting to take the concept of “fitness fun” too far. As long as it looks cool on social media, it’s totally legitimate right?

Here is just a short list of all the things you can do under the guise of fitness:

  • work out naked with other people
  • box in a dimly lit room with punches flying everywhere
  • sing karaoke during a spin class
  • bounce around on bungee cords in a group class
  • dance on pogo shoes in a “dance-cardio” class
  • do yoga on a narrow pool float, in a salt-water pool under dim club-like lighting

Believe it or not, these are all real options for fitness classes here in the city. Each of them provide a unique and different experience than what we’re all used to. But are you actually doing something that will help you lose fat or build muscle by trying out all these different things? You might have fun doing them and a lot to post about, but you’d be sadly mistaken if you think that this approach can lead to sustainable fitness in the long haul.

The reason why is because there is no progression or consistency with this approach. Instead of doing the few things that have the most effect on your fitness goals, you’re doing a lot of things that collectively have little effect on what you’re actually trying to achieve.

Think of it this way. Earning a PhD in a narrow specialty of a certain subject is hard enough; try earning multiple PhDs in multiple subjects. Instead of being an expert in proper programming, strength-training, and conditioning, in a sense you’re still shopping for classes you can take this semester.

This is the fallacy of fitness in the city. The “class-hopping” mentality suffers because people are actually looking for more than just a way to have fun while working out; they’re looking for ways to achieve their goals and sustain them.

You can still have a fun and engaging experience that entertains you when it comes to the gym, but you must quit going after gimmicks and trends just because it looks good on social media. Find a place that actually cares about your well-being, and stay for the community, camaraderie, and results.

More than anything else, it’s a good idea to adopt the mindset that I discussed in this article: Make Your Bed or End Up Dead. Personally, this is a constant reminder to me that a disciplined approach from the get-go allows one to pursue the fun experiences that come after it and to truly live life to the fullest.

I can’t tell you that I always enjoy training, or if any of it is even worthy of the ‘gram. What I can tell you though is that I feel like my personal pursuits outside of the gym are well worth the sacrifices I make in the gym to get there.

But no one would ever see that side or find it cool, anyway. 🙂

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach and Metabolic Lab Manager at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.

New York, NY

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