End the obsession with ‘hard’ workouts
They’re part of the reason why Britain is getting fatter
Breaking news, everyone: I’ve created the hardest workout in the world, apart from all the other ones. Ready? Okay: warm up properly, then do 500 burpees, as fast as you possibly can. Next week, do it faster.
Oh, that doesn’t appeal? Too monotonous, not shareable enough, or a bit too actually … hard? Don’t worry, I’ve still got you: or rather Gymbox, the London-based gym chain who you may remember from workout crazes like “Ghetto Zumba”, “Ripped & Stripped” or “Bunny Bootcamp” have.
Their latest creation, Flatline, comes with compulsory post-session oxygen and (optional) defibrillators, and describes itself as “potentially deadly”, which is simultaneously a) True of every activity in the world and b) Not a selling point for any of them.
“It’s almost impossible to finish,” says one staffer in the promotional video, suggesting that it hasn’t been designed very well. “It’s so tough and potentially deadly” news outlets who have nothing better to do than regurgitate press releases report, “that participants need to sign a waiver beforehand.” Yes, like you do with all gym classes. “It also has a sick station.” You mean a bucket?
At first glance, it’s difficult to immediately see why any of this is a problem. You, for instance, are already (correctly) pointing out that this is just a publicity-grab and that I, with my foaming outrage, am only helping GymBox push their tedious brand of look-at-me trendvention.
The workout isn’t even that hard: it’s basically a bit of interval training with a weight vest on and some Atlas “stones” that are actually made of rubber.
Nobody is going to die, nobody who doesn’t like working out until they feel sick is going to do the class, and the people who actually do bother will have something other than another eggs benedict photo to put on Instagram. Everyone wins! Except that, actually, nobody does.
Here’s the first problem: almost everyone in this country could do with a bit more exercise, and anything that pushes the idea that Exercise Is Hard makes the problem worse.
Sure, nobody you know is going to try Flatline, but to the man or woman who hasn’t worn shorts since their school stopped making them do cross-country runs, the harder-is-better narrative is terrify-
This man needn’t be so exhausted. If you want to lose fat, a smartly-targeted programme of kettlebell swings is probably going to be more effective than 45 minutes of random beasting.