Americans spend $6.5 billion every year on exercise equipment. More than 50 million of us — one in five adults — have fitness club memberships. Companies like Fitbit spend nearly $50 million dollars a year just advertising their tiny fitness devices.
Google “best fitness equipment,” and the first thing you see is an ad for a $2,199 Bowflex machine. That’s $558 off, and there’s free shipping with the code HOLIDAYSALE!
But all the best research shows that the most powerful piece of fitness equipment available costs nothing and is always within reach.
It’s your brain.
Your brain is not just the most powerful piece of fitness equipment around, it’s essential fitness equipment. No lasting fitness can be achieved without permanently changing your brain.
Fitness doesn’t come from a piece of equipment. Fitness is a mental process, a daily habit, a behavior pattern.
The only essential fitness activity is getting out the front door.
This isn’t to say that that you have to be the Horatio Alger of fitness, doing it alone and in your own unique way.
There are plenty of ways you can do fitness better, plenty of lessons to learn from and with others. Getting in the right mindset is essential to boosting your fitness. Research shows:
- a virtual competition with peers ups workout frequency by 90%
- even subconscious mood cues have a big impact on how long we will work out
- talking to yourself the right way while exercising might boost the length of a workout by 37%
- the calendar plays a big role in determining your fitness motivation
- belonging to a team has a huge impact on how much you invest in something
- the possibility of a prize motivates you more than the prize itself
Once you read the research, this all seems obvious. You’ve known since you were five that you want to do things the people around you are doing. When you were five and your friend ran across the playground to the slide, you wanted to race ahead and get there first.
But you also know that, for a moderately healthy adult, bench pressing 50 or 100 pounds is easier than just turning the knob to open the front door to go exercise.
There are so many forces trying to keep your mental door to fitness shut and locked. Ads telling you to buy a car so you can sit comfortably for 45 minutes on the way to work. Friends suggesting a glass of wine will make you feel better than a run. A friend inviting you to spend Saturday afternoon watching big, padded guys get exercise on TV. Watching TV ads offering to deliver pizza so you don’t have to even walk all the way to the car to drive yourself to get pizza. And if you do get up the momentum to drive to get pizza, passing five places offering you the opportunity to sit in your car and have someone hand you a 850-calorie chocolate milk shake plus fries for less than the cost of a piece of lettuce.
Having grown up in a country in which technology solves most problems, it’s no surprise that you think that technology is the key to getting fit. From childhood, everyone around you has been enchanted by technology and visions of a better future. Next year’s model is always better than last year’s model. You’re accustomed to using a credit card to fix problems. Obviously fitness is an object you need to buy rather than an idea you have to build yourself.
At the same time, the commercial tide pushes hard to suppress the fact that your brain is the only essential fitness equipment. No company is going to buy a big ad on YouTube saying “buy a brain this year!” No fitness conglomerate is going to rent out a 10,000 square-foot warehouse and then light up a big sign outside saying “just $55 a month — come in and flex your brain!”
No company runs ads telling you to open the front door, because nobody gets rich when you open the door.