Why the Fitness Industry Has Nothing to Do With Fitness

When I was a kid, someone told me that the U.S. is the only country in the world where there are elevators at the gym. I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but it struck me as crazy. Here people are paying for a gym membership in order to expel calories, yet they can’t be bothered to walk up the stairs.

In the Western world, fitness is not made out to be a way of life. It’s a product. If you want to be fit, you have to buy our diet products. Get a membership at our gym. Wear our spandex. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of money to be made in fitness. According to one report, the global fitness and health club industry is worth over $75 billion. As of October 2015, sports apparel sales have jumped to $270 billion – that’s 42% higher than it was seven years ago. And wearable technologies like FitBit are expected to bring in $12 million by 2018. The thing is, since the fitness boom of the 1980’s – when Jane Fonda led aerobics classes and dieters slurped up Slim Fast shakes – the population has, on average, gotten less healthy. Obesity rates have gone up, food has become more processed and body image issues have skyrocketed.

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Why is this the case? The fitness industry is based more on aspirations than results. It’s based on you feeling bad about yourself after scrolling through countless Instagram pics of girls with six packs. It’s based on a Biggest Loser idea of a life-changing makeover. It’s not based on a simple, clean and healthy lifestyle that won’t cost you a dime. Personally, I consider myself very healthy, yet my only exercise expense is running shoes every couple of years. I go on long runs and do yoga and strength videos in my living room. I wear old gym clothes from my days as a high school athlete and use hand-me-down weights. Yes, I’ve been tempted by Lululemon leggings that promise to make my butt like Beyonce’s. But I know that the only thing that will make my butt look better is consistent glut reps.

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Tell me, how do you think the fitness industry compares to simple ideas of “fitness”?

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About the Author

Maggie Schafer is the founder of Chic & Eco, a sustainable fashion blog where she shares information about ethical fashion brands, upcycling and smart styling. Maggie is a freelance writer who writes blog posts, articles and websites for clients in travel, health & fitness, fashion and education. When she’s not typing away, this Chicagoan is practicing yoga, cooking vegan meals and exploring different neighborhoods.

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