In the fitness community, things can get pretty ridiculous.  The market is flooded with magazines that have articles on how you can get “Fab abs in five minutes flat!”.  Or, there are the crazy products and claims of getting fit in just minutes a day, or only needing one simple piece of equipment that folds up small enough to fit under your bed.  But, to a degree, this stuff is expected right?  I mean, that’s what late night television is for.

But sometimes I run across something that completely catches me off guard because it so upsetting.  The other day I was thumbing through a magazine and the title of an article caught my eye.  It was something along the lines of Perceived Rate of Exertion.  Since that is a fitness term that I don’t see very often in run-of-the-mill magazines, I stopped thumbing to read what it said.

The first part said:

Perceived rate of exertion is an individuals perception of how hard their body is working

I was with them so far.

PRE is monitored on a scale of 1-10. 1 being very low exertion (i.e. laying on the couch) and 10 being intense exertion (i.e. sprinting after your dog that got loose, again).

OK, I’m still hanging with them, although the “chasing after the dog” reference was a little odd.  But then they said this:

The optimal range for exercise being between 3-5.

Maybe that doesn’t strike you like it did me at first.  But, I certainly had to re-read it a few times to make sure that I wasn’t confused.  In case you’re wondering why I felt this way, let me explain.

If 1 is laying on the couch, then 2 would probably be somewhere around making a sandwich.  This would put 3 at about the level of exertion while washing your car.  And then once we get all the way to the “high end” of a whopping 5, we’re looking at shopping for an hour at Costco, (Hey those carts get heavy!) or maybe an easy jog.

My first thought was this, “Why are we so afraid of hard work?”  Or better yet, “As the fitness community, why are we so afraid of telling people it isn’t easy?”  I can’t speak for most trainers, but I know for my clients, they are probably at a 5 by the time they finish their warm-up.  And that’s only 5-10 minutes into their session.

I guess “this is going to be hard work, and it’s going to take some serious discipline on your part” doesn’t make for a great selling point.  But, to be honest, it’s what I tell every one of my clients the first time that I meet with them.  I want to make sure and crush the false hopes of 8 minutes abs with the reality that getting and staying in shape is work-hard work.  People always nod in agreement, but then are a bit wide eyed when they see what I’m going to ask them to do.  But the best part is a few months down the road when, during any given exercise, they (inevitably) turn to me and ask, “Remember how hard this used to be for me?”  That’s a good moment for a trainer.

In my experience, the most frustrating thing for clients is not seeing results as quickly as they feel like they should.  They’ve got these preconceived notions from bogus marketing that it should only take 5 days to drop a pant size.  This can leave them very frustrated.

Don’t buy into the marketing scheme that it’s easy.  Don’t believe ads that tell you a pair of shoes will get you a firmer butt.  Don’t believe articles that calculate how many calories your burning while washing dishes and vacuuming.  (House work doesn’t count as exercise.)  In fact, don’t believe anything that gives the impression of ease.  I’m not trying to scare anyone, nor am I trying to say that getting a strong and lean body is awful and miserable and almost impossible to obtain.  It’s not.  But it does take work.  It does take effort.  And it does take dedication.  But it is absolutely worth it!