Fitness Fads

by Antonio Sini

Fad fitness gadget

Fads…they come and go quicker than a late-night infomercial. This is especially true when it comes to health and fitness. Anybody remember Tae-Bo? Some fads are just silly–take for example the butt-toning shoes that Sketchers promoted in early 2000. (That didn’t end well for them.) And some fitness fads can be downright harmful. An example of that was the barefoot running trend. As shoe companies were fighting over who could put the least amount of material under your feet, runners who did not know how to adjust their stride to the lighter shoes were seeing a significant spike in injuries.

With social media and targeted advertising, it’s easier than ever to fall victim to the Bandwagon Effect. If so many other people are doing it, then it’s got to work, right? Which brings me to the three current health and fitness trends below. I wonder–will they stand the test of time, or fade away like a Snuggie after its first wash?

#1 – CrossFit
Seems like every fitness expert out there has raised the alarm about the ever-growing CrossFit phenomenon. I’ll admit I was skeptical when CrossFit first came onto the scene. The idea of a couch potato trying to squat press 135 lbs for reps, after doing a minute of burpees, hurts me to just think about it. Even devotees were becoming skeptics, and more and more beginners were getting hurt. Suddenly, CrossFit studios (or Boxes as they’re called) saw that they could not sustain themselves by targeting only young and athletic fitness buffs. CrossFit has begun to change and adapt to the needs of regular folks. Today, many CrossFit Boxes follow a better and more functional approach to exercise. The original CrossFit formula has been tweaked–some diehards would say changed completely–to provide a safer and more mainstream fitness program that works for a bigger audience. Will CrossFit be around in the next 10 years? I think so. CrossFit has built a great community of fitness enthusiasts and the program is evolving. If you’re thinking about trying it though, just be careful. There are still plenty of CrossFit boxes out there that want to “keep it real” and follow the original (and injury prone) formula. Find a Box that has a structured system that focuses on proper technique and safe exercise principles.

#2 – Wristband Fitness Trackers
Fitness bandAlthough I suspect these days you’ll find less and less of these on people’s wrists, fitness tracker devices have been all the rage for several years. Many companies claim to have revolutionized fitness with their wristband. (Except maybe NIKE, who stopped making them altogether.) Apparently, they are the answer for anyone looking to lose weight, increase their physical activity, or simply improve their overall health. Sorry to say it, but the simple fact is that a wristband, or the latest fitness app for that matter, will not make you healthier on its own. Technology cannot replace physical activity. Sure, one can argue that at the very least, the tracker will make you more mindful of your activity level, which is a huge first step to getting fit. But lets be honest–a broken elevator will do a better job of making you fitter. Habits are hard to change. If you really want to improve your fitness, add some structure to your program. Track how many miles you can ride in one week, for example, or track every workout in the gym for a month. As for the Wristband Fitness Tracker, if it reminds you that you need to get to the gym or outside to the park, then great. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before that piece of rubber ends up in the desk drawer, along with your collection of magnetic jewelry!

#3 – Gluten Free Foods
Gluten freeGluten-free foods have become the latest food fad. People have been switching to gluten-free diets to lose weight, boost energy and feel healthier. Supermarket aisles are now stocked with products labeled “Gluten free,” and many restaurants proudly offer gluten-free options. “Give up gluten,” many say, “and you will instantly feel better.” But is that true? Some scientists have stated that unless you have the autoimmune condition known as celiac disease, giving up gluten won’t make much difference in your health. In fact, new studies suggest that gluten intolerance may not even exist. So what are people experiencing when they drop gluten from their diets? Most likely, they are seeing the result of improved eating habits overall. Eliminating processed products like pastas, bread and other baked goods will positively impact anyone, whether they think they are gluten intolerant or not. If you do have chronic digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation, you may very well have more serious issues that should be diagnosed by a doctor. Either way, before you go spending extra money on the gluten-free “healthier foods”, take a closer look at everything you consume and make healthier choices.