Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fitness Cliques and Stereotypes

It's common for health and fitness enthusiasts with similar interests to band together since they have a particular objective or goal they are excited about trying to accomplish. 

They often disagree with or even butt heads with followers of other fitness disciplines when it comes to what they believe is the best type of exercise or how you should eat. I thought I'd briefly address some of the more popular groups and their traditional emphasis. Please forgive me for the blatant stereotypes.

Body Builders- Size is king, but they also value symmetry, proportion, and definition. Appearance and stage presence is everything for this group so they are frequently accused of being narcissistic. They spend a lot of time lifting weights in the gym.

Marathoners- Runners are a strange breed. I am a poser when it comes to running. I like running 5 Ks and have run a couple marathons, but I don't have the guts or patience to run as much as these folks. Serious runners are often labeled as being skinny endurance machines.

CrossFit and Functional Fitness- This group is not impressed with big muscles as much as they are functional fitness and athletic ability. They have combined a variety of physical challenges involving high reps and plyometrics and have come up with what appears to be timed relay races from hell.

Powerlifters- Strength is all that matters for Olympic lifters and powerlifters. It's ok if you have a gut if you can lift more than the next guy. Don't underestimate a power lifter. They are frequently stronger than they look.

Group Exercisers-This include people who do aerobics, zumba, boot camps, or any other activity people enjoy doing in groups.

Triathletes-As if biking, running, or swimming wasn't challenging enough, someone had to put them all together. I've noticed many guys take this up as part of a mid life crisis. I suppose it is cheaper than buying a Porsche.

MMA-These warriors come from a variety of martial arts disciplines. Mixed marital arts has gained a lot of popularity over the last 10 years. There is a lot more to the sport than tattooed bullies beating each other up in a cage.

Traditional sports- Those who play popular sports like football, basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, etc. These include elite athletes down to beginners and even out of shape arm chair quarterbacks playing in city leagues.

New Age Fitness-This group is typically into yoga, meditating, enjoying the outdoors, hiking, etc. Frequently vegetarians or vegans. Usually more emphasis on mind, body, and spirit.

I sometimes hear people in some of these different groups disagreeing with or dissing the other ones. Probably because they really don't understand or appreciate what the other camps are really about. Despite the differences in philosophies and objectives in each of these groups, I think they have more in common than most people realize. I take my hat off to all of these groups and their participants who are physically active and concerned about improving their health and taking care of their bodies. I respect anyone who excels at any given sport or activity regardless of if it appeals to me or not.

If you want to get in shape and start exercising, then try one of the above activities that you are most excited about because you will be more likely to stick with it. Which sport of training method is best? That will always be debated, but just think how powerful they'd be if instead of arguing, all the fitness enthusiasts from different disciplines joined forces and and used their strengths like the Superfriends to battle inactivity.


Kelly said...

I would love some super friends to battle inactivity. If I had to choose one of these types I'd say I am a new age fitness type. I am nearly a vegetarian but will still eat meat. I mean who can give up bacon? I also love yoga. Currently I am trying to teach myself to run but it's an uphill battle. My husband is about to do his first marathon in Oct. I am very proud of him.

Raymond said...

Yeah people seem to get on a team and nothing else is important.
I just got back today from watching a friend win the Masters natural bodybuilding and the people watching fit the description .. whats was funny at 10am we all got out our food to eat in that magical every 2-3 hr mark.
I try to move through all those camps so I get the most balanced outlook.
Every week I do Yoga, run 10k+, sprinting, lift heavy kick boxing for cardio and might as well say I'm a vegetarian as well. Actually does leave a lot of time for much else ..haha Interesting topic

Tom said...

Kelly-Congrats to your husband on the upcoming marathon. I remember when I went to my first yoga class. I had been making fun of it before and left feeling like a wimpy fool.

Raymond- It sounds like you are very balanced with such a variety of activities. Your weekly workout covers almost every activity!

Anonymous said...

I just heard some body builders bashing Crossfit people yesterday and it reminded me of this post. I see what you mean.