Hype and reality don’t mix
The motto of this site is: debunking the myths and making fitness simple.
Why do I focus on these two aspects when it comes to training? Well, it’s because they are a direct counter to the two biggest reasons why so much time and money is wasted in the industry.
Hype and gimmicks.
I’m fully aware that in any industry hype is necessary for generating interest: the marketing department is doing its job if they can advertise and package their products that make them desirable to the point of necessity.
The problem with generating hype is that where do you draw the line? How much can you exaggerate before it becomes a plain untruth? Should you literally lie to get people to believe in your brand and buy into your promises?
I’m not going to turn this into a debate on ethics and it’s place in a capitalist free market economy, but as someone who wants to be involved in the fitness industry these are questions I have been asking myself recently.
Because I just came back from the FIBO fitness expo in Cologne, Germany.
For those of you who don’t know it’s the biggest fitness/wellness and industry trade fair in Europe and is attended by pretty much anyone who’s anyone in fitness- all the big names, including the current Mr Olympia (the one Arnold won 6 times), are there to gain visibility and promote their products.
Or should I say, brainwash another generation.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of companies there who were there to promote legitimate and honest training techniques or set up business connections with suppliers or generate interest in personal training.
But they weren’t the ones in the main section with the huge flashy stands and the bikini girls.
They should probably consider calling it a ‘supplements’ expo rather than fitness because you could probably feed a small country with the amount of powder in those halls.
Of course, I expected that. All trade shows have the same mixture of lights, music, models and celebrities to get you into the buying mood. But all the same, it was interesting to see it in the flesh and experience the hype that would have sucked me in too a few years ago.
Trying to live up the motto and the message of this blog, I went looking for some hype and some gimmicks.
Here’s the best one:
To go back to my earlier question, when does advertising become pure baloney?
Apparently, even though your genetic make up and composition has been derived from thousands of years of evolutionary iterations, defining the boundaries of your potential and what you can and can’t do, this company has got to the point where you can buy mixable powders that will trump nature itself.
Of course there are things that will take you further than your genetics: steroids.
If this company was selling steroids, then I would stand corrected. Genetics do only take you so far: drugs and chemical compounds can get you to be better than nature intended.
I was pretty sure but checked to be certain: no drugs, just the usual powders and gels.
After supplements, the biggest focus (but still a distant second) was on new ways of exercising and equipment to get you fit.
Some was actually pretty functional and it made sense. But funnily enough these types of training were in the small back halls, away from the action.
The main space, which was obviously the most expensive area, was dominated by the gimmicks- elastic bands attached to your feet and wrists to provide resistance when running, semicircular balancing boards to ‘blast your core’, wobbly bars to create extra resistance when lifting weights.
I don’t know what this one was called, but it involved throwing one of those boomerang shaped sacks in the lower half of the picture around, and to music.
Whatever it was, it seemed pretty popular. As you can see, they had a decent sized booth in the main hall, which means they must have sold a lot of those things to even break even.
I found out that renting a medium-sized space in the main hall for the four days could be upwards of 30,000 to 40,000 Euros.
Who had all the big glitzy booths in the main hall? To give them their due, supplement companies and gimmick training methods are doing something right, at least in the business sense.
I went to the FIBO to get some ideas of what was out there in the industry and maybe get some ideas on how others promote themselves.
It was exactly how I expected it to be, while none of the hype and the claims surprised me I realised how much of the industry is dedicated to endless repackaging of training concepts and the removal of reality.
More hype, more gimmicks, more money.
Unless you’re the consumer.
As I keep saying this stuff resonates with me because I know that had I gone to this expo when I was starting to train I would have come away with bags full of pretty useless powders, unreachable goals planted in my head and perhaps more confused on what the best way was to train.
This is why I hope that I can share with you some of the things I’ve learned and make the whole fitness lifestyle clearer and simpler to follow.
By knowing how to separate reality from the hype, and the right way to train from the gimmicks, we can all get to our goals more efficiently, more quickly and without lining the pockets of those who just don’t have your best interests at heart.
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