The American population, on average, is fat, sedentary, over medicated, in pain, and moves with the coordination of a newly born giraffe walking on ice. A really easy way to fix most of these issues really lies with the sedentary aspect of the statement above. We need to move! We need to do more physical activity, and in general physical activity is great. That being said, I am going to now trounce all over the idea of just “physical activity” in the gym. All training programs fall under physical activity, but not all physical activity counts as a training program.

Physical activity by itself is not a training program. Training programs have starting points, goals, a plan of attack to get from point A to point B, they are trackable, often have limited variables, and can be adjusted over time to improve their rate of success in regard to accomplishing the goal of the program. So what counts as physical activity that isn’t part of a training program then? Gardening, hiking, recreational kayaking, chasing butterflies while you’re blindfolded etc. They all require movement, maybe you’ll break a sweat, and they can certainly have a positive impact on your health, especially if you are a very sedentary person. None of those would qualify as part of a training program.

Don’t get me wrong, just because you do something in a gym doesn’t make it part of a training program either. If you just arbitrarily decide to walk on a treadmill for 10 or 15 minutes one time in your life, you didn’t do a conditioning program. Stumbling around the gym not knowing what to do so you grabbed some 10lb weights and did some curls in front of the mirror, is also not part of a training program. So how do we get ourselves into a training program? Well I just wrote a whole blog on that called how to build a program so I recommend reading that. Now back to bashing physical activity!

Have you ever seen one of those boot camp class workouts where some lazy ass trainer busts out a deck of cards where each suit is a different exercise, and the number on the card is how many reps you have to do? Uh-oh its a Jack of Hearts, gotta do 10 burpees now! Yeah, that is the shit I hate, that is the shit that drives me nuts. Is it physical activity, are you gonna sweat, and probably do a lot of shitty reps because you just want to get the damn workout over? Yep, it will be all of those things. You know what would probably help you succeed more? Getting on a program completely individualized to you, your injury history, your goals, with some actually decent coaching! Can you tell I sorta hate the idea of boot camps? WODs are no different, and someone trying to argue that the random programming of workouts is programming is full of shit too. That’s like the person who claims to have missed the free throw on purpose because they didn’t want to win by too many points (unless you have some money on the game where you need to hit the under while still covering the spread, but that is neither here nor there).

You want to know another reason to actually get on a training program? People who are on a training program are more likely to have success than someone just doing random shit with the idea of being active. I would also argue, anecdotally, that people on a program enjoy working out more because they know the effort they are putting into the program is getting them closer to the exact goal they want to accomplish. This is simple, “effort leads to reward” stuff, no need for a deep dive into a psychology textbook for that one, we are all just basically golden retriever puppies.

So, if you have struggled accomplishing your goals, take a look back and see if you have been on a training program or if you have been doing unguided physical activity like a blind sheep wandering the desert. It was probably the latter, so my recommendation would be to sit down with a professional and actually create a program that works for you. Working out can be a lot more rewarding when there is a reason you are doing it, and you are actually making progress. Be a good puppy, work hard, sit, stay, shake, rollover, and get that treat!