Fitness trackers, training apps, newly engineered foods, and creepy mirrors that talk back. One thing is certain, the fitness industry is accelerating its evolution toward more tech with no sign of slowing down.
We are travelling down an inevitable road of more connection, more analytics, and more artificial intelligence permeating our fitness lives. But where has all of this technology taken us and where are we going?
The rise and inevitable fall of tech?
What goes up must come down right? However, I believe we are only at the beginning stages of fitness tech. There’s simply too much money to be made. At one point only siloed, fitness-related companies were in on the little money-making secret. Now major tech firms are getting in on the action, monopolizing entire frontiers of fitness.
So if the tech train is more like a leviathan than a lemur then what do we do? Do we buy into the hype? Do we believe the promises for a better physique by screen or do we blaze our own trail? A trail that was once familiar only to now be overgrown and unrecognizable from disuse.
Do you instinctually crave a simpler, more intuitive method for fitness? And what has tech given us? A weight is a weight. Muscle is muscle. Protein is protein. Why do we make everything so complicated?
There won’t be a fall of tech in the fitness industry. That monster will keep growing more heads than a hydra. But we are forgetting the one word that separates the successful from the not so successful. A word that sums up everything we put our efforts into.
Be brutally honest with yourself
No amount of analysis can compete with results. Put simply, do you have proof of results. On a meta scale our country is facing more and more health concerns from metabolic disease to obesity. And for those who want to build muscle–real muscle–the fight is even harder. We are inundated with convenient unhealthy foods and more ways to be lazier. It’s tough enough to maintain a healthy weight let alone gain muscle, get lean, and feel great.
We need to be honest with ourselves when it comes to adopting technology into our healthy lifestyles. Is it a help or a hindrance? Are you only welcoming new and shiny tech into your life because you like new and shiny things?
Like it or hate it, CrossFit is doing something right. Visit any CrossFit Box (gym) and you’ll see very little in the way of tech. Simultaneously you’ll also see living breathing results before your eyes. You’ll see stories of amazing transformations, permanent lifestyle changes, and a tightly-bound community of motivated individuals without the use and dependence of uber advanced technology. All you’ll see and experience is sweat, tears, and maybe a little blood.
Now this isn’t an ad for CrossFit by any means. It’s just a great example of how bare-bones effort, determination, and instinctual motive can conquer any fitness goal.
Novelty versus what you need
One last thing, then we’ll get on with a plan. I say all this not to take the contrary position of “anti tech.” I honestly believe in useful technology. But I must emphasize the word useful.
Our society tends to jump on bandwagons every time one strolls through town. We haphazardly hop in without any real reason or foresight. It’s much like a Twitch or Pavloian response–no questions asked.
I pose two serious questions before adopting any new tech: What will it significantly help me with and will it cause too much distraction in my life?
One of the big goals of any new app or device is to get you addicted–not to get you results. Companies want you using their products as much as possible no matter the outcome. They have developed specifically engineered systems to keep your eyes glued sprinkled in with a little feel-good feedback and they have you hooked.
That is the goal. It’s not to get you closer to your ideal physique, it’s to get your attention. And the more attention they get, the less of it goes towards your goals.
Old school is here to stay
The key to combating the hypnotic effects of tech is to work from the inside out. Big tech in fitness isn’t going anywhere any time soon. We need to develop better habits and shift our focus to where it needs to be. Results.
It’s easy to get caught up in the weeds when we really need to be looking at where we are truly going as an end result. Will we just continue in our tech holes always wanting the newest, best tech to finally get us to where we want to go, or do we strip away the useless excess and start putting one foot in front of the other and start down the path to better outcomes–real outcomes.
Things like showing up every day, focusing on each set, rep, and exercise, getting in your proper meals at the right times, and getting proper rest are vital.
Principles of results
Speaking of good ole fashioned principles, let’s organize and lay out some tried and true practices to build a foundation.
- Have a plan. Bring with you a plan of action before ever stepping foot in the gym. A builder doesn’t just show up to the site and start building a house so why would you? Write down your program, any program and just start. Stick with it for at least three months to see where it takes you.
- Focus and avoid too much tech. Having your phone around is too tempting. Shut off from tech and get into your workouts without the distraction. TikTok will be there when you get done. Make no excuses. We’ve all seen so many people in the gym just sit there with their heads down. Don’t be that person.
- Plan your nutrition. Write out a sound nutrition plan and stick to it. You know your body better than you think–and much better than any app does. Trust yourself. Just like your training program, start with a simple diet and then go from there. Avoid diet hopping.
- Develop good sleeping habits. Nothing on the planet is better for recovery and muscle growth than quality sleep. Yes, diet is crucial and supplements can help a little, but if you’re not sleeping well, you can pretty much just flush your money down the crapper. Don’t let tech keep you up at night. Have a quitting time from your phone and get to sleep already!
- Review your goals. At least once per month review what’s working, what’s not, and make minor adjustments. Change only one or two variables in your training and diet at a time. Too much change will make it difficult to identify what worked. Avoid trying to reinvent the wheel every few weeks. Again, no one knows you better than you.
No tech training
When it comes to no tech training, you will start to reconnect with your physique. You’ll develop an instinct for what’s working and what isn’t. You’ll start to pay attention more.
For just one hour per day, ditch the phone, refuse the apps, and look forward to the real world. You’ll also start to take notice of those who are lost in their devices and see your past self. Relieved and refreshed, you’ll begin to drive forward, press on, and make serious progress with your training and nutrition.
Here are a few tips:
- Before entering the gym, take a moment to shift your perspective from the busy day you just had full of work/school, obligations, unexpected issues, and noise to the task before you. You’re about to transform your focus from busy, distracted, and flustered to one of goal-oriented challenges. You’re about to go from reactive to proactive.
- Pay attention to what’s before you. Grab the bar, feel the metal, and experience the muscle tension in your grip, forearm, upper arm, shoulder, chest, etc. No longer distracted by outside noise, you’re about to train your physique for the better. You’re focused down to the very muscle fiber contracting.
- Stay in the game. During your set focus on the muscle shortening and lengthening. Feel the burn–welcome the burn. No tech, no noise, just you and the iron in a tug-of-war. The more you internalize the feeling the more you will get out of your workouts.
- Use rest periods to your advantage. This isn’t the time to pull out your phone and see what mind-numbing, useless piece of information may or may not be there. Instead control your breathing, keep track of your rest periods, adjust weight if necessary, and start to gear up for your next set. You’ll be mentally ready ahead of the curve.
- Do better. Don’t become satisfied and don’t just go through the motions. You spend money at that gym for a reason, you show up every day for a reason, and you put in the work for a reason. Don’t just spin your wheels, get some real, progressive work done.
- Repeat steps one through five.
Do you have what it takes to ditch the phone, apps, and anything else that was just designed for your attention? Can you reconnect with yourself and finally make headway toward your goals? Will you put your time, effort, and attention toward something worthwhile or just continue to allow yourself to be distracted further drifting away from any real progress?
Remember, novelty isn’t the goal, results are.