The Problem With Fitness

Identifying the Enemy

“I’m not a teacher; only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead - ahead of myself as well as you.”    -George Bernard Shaw

“I’m not a teacher; only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead - ahead of myself as well as you.”

-George Bernard Shaw


Whether for General Physical Preparedness (GPP) or sport specific development, there has never been more access to information surrounding training. Information -however- isn’t understanding. Many resources that seem an oasis prove to be an illusion, and it becomes difficult for the seeker of fitness to tell the difference when bombarded by myths and marketing that dominate the space. Professional athletes, inspirational amateur performances in intimidating events, miraculous transformations, and sponsor friendly Olympic glory dominate our ideas of long term fitness journeys. The influence of sport and competition bleeds in almost every instance of moving our bodies, uprooting any any sense of play that might make effort more enjoyable for many. For those with a mindset embracing work, pressure to train against the clock, post your workout to social media, and “be better than yesterday” encourages us to unwittingly sacrifice true long term development in favor of the immediate satisfaction of the #grind. Any public conversation about the “mental side” of training devolves into platitudes of “mind over matter,” without any concern for the path this leads us down; If we battle against our own nature, what do we think we stand to win?

This utter confusion about how to approach the task of maintaining our capability and health in an environment that's increasingly foreign to our intuition creates opportunity for some. For the coach attempting to make a profession out of this endeavour, there is no instruction manual. The endless flow of answers, methods, jargon, protocols, diets, templates, seminars (deep inhale, deep exhale) webinars, certifications, biomechanics experts, and assessments are fed almost intravenously through social media and periodicals. With a staggering amount of Gurus out there and none of them saying the magic words "I Don't Know", our options seem whittled down to two. Spend immeasurable time and resources to sift through the complexity, or give up and dig our heels in; rigidly defending whatever method of training we employ currently. While others will spend their energy arguing over what is best, those who can find the signal in the noise and determine what works will improve themselves and those that they're accountable to. 

The "normal person" is even more bombarded by this noise than the coach or trainer. While a coach must quickly accept the inevitability of change in the pursuit of improvement or transformation, most of us are hoping to maintain who we think ourselves to be and change only our outward appearance. We are all aware of a need for a more holistic view of health and personhood. Almost anyone can describe the pitfalls of Western medicine and treating the symptom of an issue rather than it’s root cause. Yet we all fall in the same trap with our pursuit of fitness, using how we look as a metric to inform how we feel and as placeholder to broadcast to others what we can do.  We are sold the 30 day detox, the $10 a month no commitment membership, the totally-not-dumbed-down plan that X person followed in order to achieve Y (insert actor/actress/athlete/blogger ad nauseum). We buy it every time, laboring at the sisyphean task of achieving the appearance of capability and confidence because we suspect it might be easier than confronting ourselves. When the boulder inevitably rolls back down the mountain, we begin again, hoping we can find a way to change how we look or what we can do without exposing who we are to the same level of critique. Entire industries are propped up on the assumption that we will never stop bouncing from one hopeful beginning to another, that we’ll never learn the patience we need to truly change. This misinformation that convinces us of the myth that we can somehow improve without change is our enemy.

 Here's the truth. Change requires investment and sacrifice; of our resources, our time, and our effort. If we don’t ruthlessly examine our values, we will remain unfulfilled. If we don’t bring our brain to the gym, we will simply tread water. If we don’t recognize that consistent improvement relies on self-knowledge, we will only train our flesh. If we chase the number and not the experience, nothing transfers out of the walls of the gym.

Where can we turn for true guidance? How can we develop a daily practice of movement and a relationship with effort that nourishes our body, systematically eliminates our weaknesses and prepares us to be more reliable in our work, relationships, and communities? At Dayton Strength, we are striving for the improvement of the person with consistent physical work, and coaching that challenges, reinforces, and at all times displays our commitment to our values.

No one is coming. It’s up to us.

We are not machines to be programmed, nor clay to be molded. 

We are not machines to be programmed, nor clay to be molded.