When I was in Year 7 I knew all the tricks.
Thanks to a post-nasal drip, I could cough up a lung on demand, my temperature was always high thanks to my bedside lamp and, once or twice, I’d made fake vomit and put it in the toilet.
“Mom! I threw up last night. Please don’t make me go to school.”
By the end of Term One, I had attended school for all of about 3 weeks in total. The rest of the time, I was home playing Zelda on Gameboy Colour. The most depressing part of this story though is that, after all that effort, I never did beat that game.
Whenever I was ‘sick’, my Mom and I had an unwritten agreement. I would accompany her grocery shopping, and she would buy me a toy.
For the next week, I’d play with that toy non-stop. Then I’d forget about it and become obsessed with a different toy.
Exercising is very similar. And poorly informed, GTL loving trainers are the worst culprits of ‘Toy Training’.
Too many times I’ve seen trainers using TRX’s, kettlebells, weird loading protocols, plyometric boxes, Fat Gripz, Power Bands, chains and even Olympic lifts in a spasmodic display of “I saw someone else do this and they were ripped and athletic so it must work for my weak, overweight client” training.
Then the next week, the Trainer discovers a new fitness toy and, like my discarded Transformers back in Year 7, they become obsessed with their latest fad, forgetting all about their last one.
Clients are the ones who really suffer here. Their general ignorance regarding training keeps them shrouded in a fog of reliance. If their Trainer tells them that doing squats on a Bosu ball will weighted down by Power Bands and swinging a kettlebell will get them ripped, who is the client to question them?
After all, it’s the Trainers job to stay up to date and current with the latest training research and toys, of which there are many.
All of these toys have a place in training. Unless the toy was brought off of Danoz Direct, you could safely assume someone created it in order to get stronger, faster and bigger but whether you’re swinging a kettlebell or curling with Fat Gripz they need to be integrated into a coherent, logical program that allows for progression.
No matter the toy, it should be used in the context of your training but it should never BE your training.
If you find that you can’t strip back your training, reverting to basic, old school movements such as presses, pull ups and squats, and still get stronger, then the fitness toys are doing more to hinder than help you.
Lastly, whether you’re a trainer or a gym enthusiast like myself, always make sure you know exactly how and when to use your new toy for maximal effectiveness. This goes for you too, guy who I see doing his seated dumbbell shoulder presses with a weight belt but then takes it off to do squats.
Tell me, what are your favourite fitness toys? Is anybody out there interested in what I carry in my gym bag and how I use it?