Hey friends, welcome back to another episode of HGTV. In the next 5-minutes, I’m going to talk to you about my love/hate relationship with the phrase on this shirt, that reads, “Stop exercising, start training.”
I got this shirt at the 2017 Perform Better Functional Training Summit, and as you can see it’s got Perform Better’s logo on one side and this little Nike swoosh right here. This shirt was part of an advertising campaign that creative agency AnalogFolk did for Nike back in 2017. According to the AnalogFolk website:
“On January 1st – when the whole world was telling people to exercise – [Nike] told them to stop. To stop going through the motions and start going for progress. People workout. They go to the gym. They exercise. But they don’t think of what they do as training. They think training is something only for pro athletes or people with trainers.”
Alright, so this shirt was part of a marketing campaign and an extremely successful one at that. The whole intention is to inspire us to think bigger, better, to consider longer timelines and more substantial goals, and that’s absolutely a message that I can get behind. Except, that’s not what my experience has been wearing this shirt.
In full disclosure, I used to go out of my way to not wear this shirt around Ninjas at MFF, or wear it in any videos that I was positing of exercise demonstrations. My reason for that was simply that I think these words, without context, too quickly confirm our inherent self-beliefs.
If you like to exercise, you’re drawn to the idea of taking it more seriously, and you have a chance to “upgrade” to training. If you don’t like exercise, and this shirt is literally telling you to stop doing it, why would you even bother starting an exercise program in the first place.
It’s great that AnalogFolk and Nike figured out a fancy marketing plan, but I’m skeptical about how much content like this inspires sedentary people to start exercising in the first place. So, I propose a new motto, a new tag-line, an idea that I’m giving away to the world for free:
Start Exercising. Then Start Training.
I know, I know, it sounds so similar, but go with me on this one, because according to the CDC, only 22.9% of U.S. Adults met 2008 guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise. Let’s round up and say that a quarter of the country meets government guidelines, which in my humble opinion are pretty low to begin with:
The recommendation is that people should engage in “moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week” or “vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 75 minutes per week,” or any combination.
We know that exercise is one of the best ways to reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers, to strengthen bones and muscles, improve mental health, improve the ability to complete daily activities, and control weight.
If less than a quarter of the country is even getting to these minimum standards, why would we even begin suggesting that anyone should stop exercising?
As a culture, we have a lot of work to do to bridge the gap between what elite-level athletic training looks like, what it feels like, and what’s appropriate for your average weekend warrior like you or I.
My dream is that everyone can lead a life that they love, and that means physical activity is a part of your life. Some of us might consistently get into the gym when we say we’re going to be there, and do fine with a workout of the day. So please remember, something is always better than nothing, but I think that setting yourself up with some training goals and a supporting training plan is essential for making a shift to a life with consistent physical activity.
I’m not even selling you coaching right now, because there are a whole lot of great, free, training plans one Google search away. If doing something is always better than doing nothing, you might be able to level up a bit more by choosing the ONE thing to focus on.
Which leads me to the question, what’s ONE thing that you want to train for? It could be your first 5k or your first powerlifting meet. Maybe you want to take 5 minutes off your race PR, or add 50lbs to your total. Perhaps you’re preparing for a serious hike or a return to a recreational sport that you played in high school.
I know that loads of folks are currently in the final weeks of NYC Marathon training, but you might be looking ahead to an event that’s 6 weeks, 6 months, or – and yes, I mean this seriously – 6 years away! For example, in the last few weeks I’ve been slowly outlining a bucket-list plan to do a bike race in each of the 50 US States, and it will take me YEARS to get that done.
If you’ve exercised with any consistency, you know that your body feels better after the habit is established, but I’m not sure our brains feel better until there’s a true purpose behind the exercise. When you establish purpose, that’s when you transition from exercising to training, and that is when we really get to unleash our potential.
Meditate on this question: What’s one thing that you want to train for? Sit with that question for as long as you’d like, and when you have an answer, leave a comment and let me know.
That’s it for this piece , friends, thanks for joining me! I’d love to know your thoughts: What do you do for exercise? What are you training for? Do you have a long-term goal that you need help preparing for? Let me know in the comments!
As always, if you’d like to watch this episode of HGTV, you can find it below. Cheers!