If your personal trainer tells you that spot reduce or puts you through a toning workout, it’s time for you to find another trainer. These are two of the biggest myths in the exercise world, and any personal trainer who engages in such nonsense should be disengaged.
Fortunately, the myth of spot reducing has been busted for quite some time now. In case you’ve been in a cave for the past 30 years, spot reducing is the flawed philosophy that claims that you can attack certain areas of the body with exercise with the express purpose of reducing fat.
This was actually your mother’s exercise, and the vast majority of the fitness professionals out there – or is it out here? – no longer espouse this kind of faulty exercise alchemy in the year 2007. But if you do run across a personal trainer who spouts off about this kind of nonsense, you’d be justified in telling them to “sod off,” and then move on.
On the other hand – and on the down side – there are still way too many fitness professionals touting the benefits that can come from “body toning.” Google it and check out the nonsense. Yecch. Personal trainers and other fitness pretenders who promote the idea of toning muscles through the use of low-weight/high-repetition training have little – if any – understanding of basic physiology.
With muscles only two things can happen – they get bigger and stronger or the get smaller and weaker. That’s it. Diet, exercise and genetics are responsible for what your muscles look like. Muscles cannot get longer by lifting weights, stretching, performing Pilates or yoga or through any other form of exercise. You can’t sculpt muscles – there’s also no such thing as “body sculpting” or “body shaping” – yet many gyms and personal trainers advertise that they offer this kind of training.
Infomercials try to sell people products based on the erroneous premise that muscles can be sculpted or lengthened. Doing endless crunches won’t give anyone a six-pack and working on flexibility and balance won’t make muscles look – or be – longer. Don’t get suckered by people who are trying to sell you on the possibility that you can change the basic structure of your musculature.
Personal trainers who tell you that you can lengthen your muscles by following the type of program used by dancers – and ostensibly look like a dancer – are either ignorant or scammers. Successful dancers are successful in large part because of their genetic gifts, both from performance and appearance standpoints. As a matter of fact, the naturally graceful, long and lean physiques are perfect for the demands that are imposed by dancing.
Before dancers can become good dancers, they need to possess the proper genetics. Their genetics ultimately are responsible for their performance and their appearance. If you want to get in great shape and want to, and are able to, train like a professional dancer you will definitely be in great shape, just don’t harbor any illusions that your body will morph into something that it isn’t meant to be.
If you’re 5’ 2” you won’t look, or grow to be, 5’ 10” by training like a dancer. There’s not a piece of equipment that you can use or a training program that you can follow that will transform your body.
“Transformation” is another word that’s thrown around by personal trainers, diet gurus and others who are trying to sell you something. There’s this belief that exercising and following a healthy, balanced diet – all the elements of living a healthy diet – will change the body, change a person’s appearance. “Health” doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with appearance. “Aesthetically pleasing” and “fit” don’t have to go hand in hand.
It may seem unfair, and sound harsh, but the reality is that some people just look better than others, and those who are genetically pre-disposed to look great are few and far between. Just as in any pursuit, the best of the best are rare, whether we’re talking about golf, gymnastics, cooking, architecture, football, writing, comedy, intelligence or any other human endeavor. People should strive to be the best that they can be regardless of the activity and enjoy the personal improvements, and not exist or “do” just to compare themselves to others.
The obsession with what other people do in the gym or what they look like has resulted in nonsense like spot reducing, body toning/shaping and the vast majority of other philosophies, practices and products that make up the popular health and fitness culture. Unfortunately, when it comes to appearance all men and women are not created equal.
Just work on being the best that you can be and forget all the nonsense about sculpting, shaping and changing your body’s appearance. You’ll be in better shape, both physically and mentally.