Does the Exercise Industry Set Us Up for Failure?

It’s no secret that many have failed on their fitness journeys. They set out to become a marathon runner or body builder or simply to drop a few pounds. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority lapses back into a sedentary lifestyle quickly.

Quitting may feel like your fault, but it’s actually not. The exercise industry has been working against you since day one. Don’t lose hope—your fitness goal is attainable as long as you tackle it with the right approach.

Why people abandon their fitness goals

If you feel guilty for avoiding the gym, you’re in good company. People often blame themselves for falling short of their fitness goals. They chalk it up to laziness or a lack of motivation, assuming will power alone will lead you to weight loss or a toned body. Even if others get involved in your fitness journey—like a personal trainer—the shame of failure still falls entirely on the individual all too often.

But you’re not to blame—the exercise industry is. Countless ads depict ripped body builders pumping iron at the gym and getting their sweat on in athletic gear. Commercials show these same people taking performance-boosting supplements along with their protein shakes. The industry trains us to believe we’ll get fit by wearing stylish new trainers to the gym every day. Consumers often associate products with a positive outcome, and that’s exactly the problem.

The exercise industry makes you focus on the end goal—not the grueling work that gets you there. Millions of people continue to sign up for gym memberships with unrealistic expectations. They see a slim, toned body in a commercial, and they want to look that way. Within a couple of weeks, they abandon their gym memberships—and fitness goals along with them—because the industry didn’t prepare these individuals for the hard work they’d have to put in.

The promise of the “ideal” physique isn’t enough to sustain most people through the months and years to come. They want to look a certain way right now, but that’s not possible. Your reason for working out, whether it’s weight loss or a healthier lifestyle, lies far in the future. The long-term goal is attainable, but you also need a reason to exercise that benefits you in the present moment.

How to motivate yourself to exercise

For starters, try not to fixate on your end goal too much. If that’s the only reason you’re working out, then you’ll be waiting a long time! Exercise is a means to an end, but you should have fun in the process. Fun physical activities will help you look forward to working out and put you that much closer to your goal. You’re more likely to stay active when you play a round of pickleball with friends rather than mindlessly complete reps in the weight room for hours. Prioritizing fun in the workout will give you the instant gratification many people seek.

In addition to having fun, come up with a few short-term goals that give your daily workout some purpose. Perhaps group fitness is a good opportunity to meet new people or spend time with your family. Many people love pounding the trails because it helps them blow off steam after a long day at work. Choose any short-term goal you want that will help you enjoy exercise—not dread it.


Daily activities for a healthier you

Don’t get too intense with your first workout. Start small, then work your way up. These fun activities are great for beginners who want to make exercise a daily habit.

  • Join a Zumba class: Group fitness classes will help get your sweat on in a fun, uplifting environment. If Zumba isn’t your thing, sign up for a different class like yoga or kickboxing. The point is to go out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve always wanted to do. Each session lasts only a few weeks, so you can switch up your routine once the session ends.
  • Hike to a lookout point: Hiking provides a welcome change of scenery from the treadmill. It’s also the perfect excuse for your family to take a staycation. You get to enjoy good conversation along the way, and the destination will reward you with sweeping views of the landscape. Hiking is a great workout, too—your legs will be sore the next day!
  • Play catch with the kids: Kids are bursting with energy, which makes them the best accountability partners. They look for every opportunity to run and play in the backyard. Joining them for a game of catch or kickball offers precious bonding time and the motivation to stay fit.

Your fitness goals are within reach. In order to achieve them, tune out the marketing messages of the exercise industry. Anyone can get swept up in the excitement of attaining that coveted bikini body. What’s far more important is focusing on the here and now. Take your journey one step at a time, and you will get there in the end.

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