The Daily Gamecock

Fitness, not vanity, primary point of gym

Conventional weight training doesn't equate to healthiness in individuals


During a trip to the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, a few things will stick out. Take, for example, the group of friends who congregate around the bench press — all wearing tank tops and attempting to bench 200-plus pounds for maybe five reps total. They spend more time talking and resting than actually working out. And then there’s the group surrounding the dumbbells, performing thousands of bicep curls in the pursuit of Schwarzenegger-sized arms, while individuals in a separate area do a thousand sit-ups trying to obtain washboard abs. While these are technically considered “exercise,” by no means are they actually fitness.

Bodybuilding and weightlifting to have the biggest muscles and highest bench press are neither fitness nor wellness. Conventional weight training is basically only suitable for sculpting the body, not for improving overall health conditions. In other words, it’s mostly for vanity. Bodybuilding is based on a flawed training philosophy of appearance rather than function, breaking down natural muscle movements into less efficient and less effective component parts.

Fitness can be broken down into five categories: cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition and flexibility. Separating each day according to which muscle group is going to lift weights or how many miles are going to be walked on a treadmill will never satisfy the requirements of actually obtaining the level of fitness or, more importantly, having a healthy body.

It’s time for a “revolution” to take place in the gym. Forms of exercise like CrossFit, circuit training and high-intensity interval training are beginning to replace old forms of exercise. These exercises prepare the body for better fitness by not focusing on any one activity. They focus on strengthening and conditioning, simultaneously. Instead of breaking up lifting and cardiovascular exercise into separate groups, they harmoniously combine heart-pounding, sweat-pouring and sore muscle activities. All forms of these types of exercise shave off time spent working out in the gym because they condense everything into nonstop exercise, with very little time for pausing. So on top of actually achieving fitness, the excuse of not having enough time to get in shape goes out the window.

At the end of the day, a person who lifts in traditional ways and another who trains with this new, holistic style could both very well end up with the chiseled look of someone dedicated at the gym. But the second individual will have achieved fitness, and he or she will walk away with more than just impressive biceps. Every gym-goer should leave feeling at their prime, but the gym shouldn’t be used for vanity. It should be fun, exciting and, most importantly, healthy.