In the world of exercise, we will always meet well intended fitness-minded people who may be fresher to exercise than they'd like to be. In my opinion, they're at a bit of a disadvantage in this day and age.
See, we live in the age of technology and advanced research. There's no arguing that. While there are many convenient and accessible ways to find scores of fitness information, it's balanced by plenty of negative (or outright false) propaganda that can grey the areas between sound, actionable info and curb-worthy garbage. When it comes to training, this is huge.
When I mention "propaganda", the first thought that comes to my mind is the idea of turning the healthy act of training the body to function better, look better, and feel better, into a conquest, competition, or sport where you're not hardcore enough if your training isn't badass. Log on to Google and do a simple image search of fitness photos, and you'll find a plethora of motivational sayings and quotes that encourage trainees to push through pain, fight for the extra rep, and basically beat yourself to a pulp in the gym, while reminding yourself that "pain is weakness leaving the body".
For the crowd who knows a thing or two in the weight room, that may serve a good purpose. I mean, the last thing we want to do is sell ourselves short and waste time in the gym while we're there. But for the people who don't know much about the whole training thing, chances are it's doing more bad that good for their psyche. The thing is, I believe 90 per cent of the people who probably search for motivation to reach fitness goals are the ones who need motivation. My idea of someone like that would be a guy (or girl) who's been out of the loop for a while where the gym's concerned, and needs a slight kick in the hind parts to get working again.
Having a poor foundation of conditioning, and little to no knowledge of proper training techniques can ingrain the wrong habits into the poor trainee's mind, so training systems like CrossFit, or even ads for high performance gear give them an influence as to how they should train in the gym. The intense and highly athletic approach with a "fight the pain" mentality can be a recipe for injury or post-workout muscle soreness that serves as enough of a shock factor to have the gym considered a taboo once more for an extended period of time.
More on the "fight the pain" thought -- it's an idea that's only growing in popularity. Even on Facebook and Instagram, I notice plenty of photos of lifting aficionados proudly showing off the torn and freshly bleeding callouses on their hands from power cleans, scuffed shins from deadlifting, bruises on the back or shoulders from squatting, and other 'baptismal' marks from the gym that largely gain community approval. Kudos to these folks for training hard, but I feel it no longer services the body to be working past the point of what some would label as abuse to the body. The sad part is, I believe the "fight the pain" quotations were originally coined by some dude who was well intended, referring to a healthy muscle burn from a solid set of weight training -- as an example. Combining a lack of training knowledge with the above propaganda we see today can leave an unsuspecting novice trainee thinking that injuries and joint discomfort should be viewed as a mere peripheral when compared to getting through the tough workout.
My take home point is this: Never forget the roots of exercise. Its purpose is to make you healthy, and ultimately increase your life span. If you're not moving better, feeling better, and find yourself mobile and injury free as a result of your exercise, you may be in the midst of a downward spiral. Just like basically everything else that touches mass media and entertainment, the idea of fitness training has, in many cases, become perverted by the masses. What was once the unthinkable is now happening; smart, sound fitness training methods can actually be censured for their lack of 'fierceness' and create inferiority complexes in the minds of well-intended trainees.
Follow Lee Boyce on Twitter: www.twitter.com/coachleeboyce