Corinne Austin | Personal Training

Changing the Paradigm of Fitness

img_0116I could do half a dozen half marathons and still never make a top 10 finish.  No matter how hard I tried.  I just don’t have the right genes.  I accept that.  I’ll never be that person who can lead from start to finish, busting their gut to get to the finish line first because they’ve put in sixteen weeks of periodised training sessions and their mind won’t rest unless they win. That will never be me.  I accept that too.  I accept that I’ll never have the pleasure of glory in any running race, nor the satisfaction of saying ‘I won’.   But, what I can do, is gain pleasure from other factors that running brings – I can be grateful that my body will let me run a half marathon, be able to admire the scenery, have a chat to the friendly neighbour running beside me (who has also surrendered to the idea that they’ll also never win a half marathon event), and cross that finish line knowing I smashed my goal of running the whole 21kms.


We can participate in fitness to compete (as in sport), or we can participate in fitness to enjoy it and to experience the pleasures and benefits that come with simply moving our bodies in the very way they were meant to be moved.  It’s this very difference which needs to be addressed on a massive scale.   Sport is sport, – there is a time and place for that.  But fitness, in general, needs to have the competitive, highest-mountain, or fastest-race aspect removed.  For us to survive as a physical being in the human race, this is critical.


Fitness is often sold to us via the media in a ‘no pain no gain’ or ‘get your bikini body here’ kind of way.  That is an entirely superficial way of viewing what fitness or exercise is, or more to the point – what it should be.   Exercise is increasingly being stripped of pleasure.  Reality shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ have done us no favours with this – the success of the show wasn’t just about the pained and shamed participants (who were forced to undertake brutal activities all in the name of weight loss), it was more about the shock value of sucking the audience in to think that that’s what exercise should be.  The thought alone makes me cringe!


Exercise should not just be about the total number of calories, kilometres or kilograms burned.  This outdated and unsuccessful paradigm needs one gigantic overhaul if we are to get anywhere with overcoming lifestyle disease, globesity, and encouraging more of the population to participate in regular (pleasurable) exercise.  We need to re-model ‘gymtimidation’ into ‘fitspiration’.  We need to encourage the enjoyment and pleasure elements of regular fitness activity.  We need to reduce the images of six-packs, planking world records, and the highest box jumps, and instead bring to our attention to images of walking with friends in sunshine, playing a good social game of beach volleyball, and running around tackling backyard ball games with our grandchildren.  Exercise should be collective, purposeful, and satisfying.  Always.


The number of people neglecting to do anything for their health or fitness continues to grow by the day, despite the death by social media articles, pictorials, advertisements and opportunities we see with every blink.  Exercise is as crucial and fundamental as medication and therapy – yet, which of those is the most often prescribed?  Community fitness needs to be more accessible than weight loss pills.  Walking groups need to be more abundant that liquor shops.  Family fitness gala’s should be promoted more than wine and food festivals.   Exercise classes for the elderly should be created before any new coffee shop or tea rooms are considered.


Exercise needs to be more accessible, more fun, more affordable, but more importantly, it needs to be seen as a necessity.  Exercise should not be optional for anyone.  It’s your own personal investment not just in yourself, but in your family, in the success and productivity of your workplace, and in your retirement too.  We need to move our bodies, and revel in the joy of moving them – regularly.  We need to recognise that any movement counts, and that perhaps choosing to not move at all, is the biggest failure we could consciously choose to undergo.