Friday, May 1, 2015

Fitness Trends

As I've mentioned on the blog, I've recently moved to Cleveland. I haven't mentioned a lot about my new job (other than it's still accounting-related), but it is in the healthcare industry. This is a big change from my previous job in the manufacturing sector, and there's been a lot of new things to learn. I've been trying to educate myself a bit on my own time, and I came across a post about Fitness Trends of 2015 by the Bankers Healthcare Group blog. 

BHG provides solutions and financing for physician loans, including physical therapist loans, which help empower caregivers. My employer offers a lot of different incentives and programs to help us maximize our wellness, and the BHG blog has a lot of informative posts that remind me of that! I thought I would give me own take on fitness trends.

I've always wanted to be a runner. I have encountered lots of other people that want to be runners: "That's so cool you can do that, I wish I could!" is a common refrain I've heard. (And one I've said myself many times!)

But while I have distinct memories of watching other people run, and run well at that, and wishing I could emulate them - probably dating back to middle school -, I can't pinpoint a reason why I fixated so strongly on running. The closest thing I could come up with was track was a no-cut sport (thereby making it relatively accessible), but swimming was as well, and I had no interest of joining, despite my parents' urgings.

It seems a little "out there" to suggest, but I truly believe humans have some innate connection to running. It's what we evolved to do, and I think that creates a draw to the sport, even if we can't explain why. In fact, when I was trying to jog my memory about why I personally wanted to become a runner, I tried a few Google searches, and I was shocked how many top results were articles about learning to run despite hating it. I think it's safe to say people generally avoid things they hate, so there must be something deeper drawing them to running.

Before I took up running, my only real exposure to fitness (other than hearing about classmates playing high school sports) was group exercise classes offered at MSU. These ended up being a great way to develop some fitness, which made the transition to running smoother. The classes were also very low-key - though still a great work-out! My first race was a 5K at a very small event around Labor Day, which only re-enforced the idea that fitness was fun and relaxing.

However, some time after I ran four miles for the first time (which I still rank up there as one of my hardest runs to date), I saw a real future for myself in running and wanted to learn more. I read every Runners World I could get my hands on and went on research binges online, trying to absorb everything I could about my new sport. While there was a ton of variety out there, I was glad to see many fundamental remained the same across the board. And, as before, the tone of everything I read was very welcoming and helpful. I don't think I realized there was anything different - yet.

I think the turning point for me was when I was flipping around TV channels one summer and happened upon the Crossfit Games. Maybe it was because basketball season was so long ago and football season was so far away, but I got totally sucked into watching. Michael was equally engrossed, and I think even my parents eventually ended up on the couch with us. I think I had heard the Crossfit name before, I didn't know much more, so I read a little about it.

I was shocked by what I found. While there are plenty of anecdotes of welcoming boxes, there were plenty of images online about pushing yourself to the breaking point - and then continuing. After inundating myself with running articles that urged listening to and honoring your body, I was honestly pretty stunned by this new side of fitness I had uncovered. (And I don't mean to throw Crossfit under the bus completely - I'm sure many other fitness trends have similar rhetoric - this was just the first one I stumbled across.)
I'd saying calling it a day if you fall over crying is perfectly legitimate.
Even though I have been running for a few years now, I am still learning how to listen to my body's signals. (As well as how to make myself appropriately respond to them, but that's a different story!) Any new trend that values completion over health seems irresponsible and dangerous. When I tried the Hanson's Marathon Method, I suffered from overtraining from weeks, even though I expected it might happen, just because I had never felt that way before. I can't imagine how much longer I would've been a zombie if I had been drilled to push through the feeling no matter how awful it got.

Lacing up my running shoes is such a simple act, but it signals that I'm about to do something good for both my body and mind. When you get away from that basic principle, it is too easy to lose sight of that and break. I know I'll never come anywhere close to competing to be "the fittest woman," but being the happiest runner sounds even better.
Do you have fitness trends that you love or hate?
How did you get into running?

Full disclosure: As always, all opinions are my own. I did not receive any compensation for this post.


  1. I feel like there's a big difference between pushing yourself to complete a tough point and pushing yourself too hard (to the point of injury even). I've tried to focus on training smarter and staying injury-free even if that means dumbing down my workouts sometimes. I love running but I've really started to enjoy yoga too. It pairs well with running too :)

    1. I knew someone in high school that regularly talked about working out until she puked. (She came from a hockey background, so she was pretty intense.) I remember thinking that sounded so horrible. I love yoga too, I'm just really bad at making time for it!

    2. That's great that your employer offers wellness incentives! It IS really interesting how many people hate running at first and then grow to love it.

      There are definitely lots of runners who push their bodies past the breaking point, too, but to me, the difference is that running can really be what you make it. You can make it as intense or as relaxed/for enjoyment as you want as a high school cross country runner, lifetime runner, etc. while I've never heard of taking something like Crossfit "relaxed." So I think maybe part of it is that running just offers so much flexibility and customization for each person? :)

    3. Yes, we get free pedometers at work, and if you get enough steps, you get gift cards. It's pretty motivating to still stay active on my rest days! I think you make a really great point about how running can be what you want. It's nice to know I can always just go for an easy run if I'm tired, or I can push myself too!