I'm starting to suspect that the booming fitness industry is growing fat on a diet of protein shakes and a load of hot air.
Nowhere was this better demonstrated than at the recent Australian Fitness & Health Expo at Darling Harbour in Sydney.
Think dozens of stands filled with salespeople with fully shaved and tanned bodies selling the biggest tubs of protein and creatine to every singlet-wearing Australian with sleeve tattoos and a "fully-sick" One Direction haircut.
My key takeaway from the show was how much the industry has lost its way now so much of it is about selling more and more stuff to help you look like someone from the cover of 'Muscle & Steroids monthly'.
But you know what? As the industry peddles an increasing amount of junk (research group IBIS estimates Australians spent $3.7 billion on fitness and weight loss services this year), I think all the masses really want are two simple things - to slim down and tone up.
The nuts and bolts of it is that women prefer a lean, toned man, and men prefer a slim, toned woman. And it doesn't take protein, pills, and machines to do it. It takes healthy eating and efficient exercises.
So, if I had a stand at the expo, I'd buck the trend and just tell you about six exercises that you should be incorporating into your program that will keep you lean and toned from head to toe. And here they are:
Bodyweight Squats Male or female, if you're not doing some sort of squats in your exercise program, then you are not exercising. From your glutes and quads to your hamstrings and calves, squats test them all. All day we sit down and stand up, which makes squats one of the most functional movements one can do at the gym.
Burpees An exercise that includes a squat, leg thrust, push up, jump forward then a vertical jump is one of the most comprehensive moves you can perform. It's rare to see people performing burpees in the gym – but when you do, understand that that individual is pushing him/herself to the limit.
Pull-Ups One of the best upper body exercises doesn't require any expensive equipment. Pull-ups work your lats, biceps, shoulders, and more. The guy at the gym with the biggest guns isn't the one to be admired - it's the one that can do the most pull-ups.
Skipping Rope A $10 jump rope could be the best, yet least expensive fitness investment anybody can make. Skipping rope is challenging, and it also burns a s%%tload of calories. Try 100 reps, try 200, and then try 300 and you will see that it is as high intensity as running sprints. And if those are easy? Do double skips, and get ready to blow your body away.
Push Ups Skip the bench press and chest isolation, and start doing more push ups. Incline, decline, plyometric, tricep, Swiss Ball – they are all amazing variations of the good ole push up. You work not only your chest but also your shoulders, triceps, core and quads. Push ups still work.
Curl – Shoulder Press Efficient exercises include compound movements, and a curl into a shoulder press is just that. It's pretty self-explanatory, as you perform a standing curl in the first movement, then raise the weights over your head with a shoulder press. Finish the exercise with the eccentric phases in bringing the weights down.
One by one, try to incorporate these exercises into your program, and if you fancy a great workout, do them all with a simple circuit: 15 squats, burpees, pull-ups, 200 jump ropes, finished by 15 push-ups and curl-shoulder presses performed in a row. Try one, two, three or even four rounds with a one minute rest between and you've done a full-body circuit that would challenge any person at the Expo.
I doubt my hypothetical stand at the expo would have been busy though, because people are too busy paying big bucks for an imaginary (but well marketed) magic pill. So how about trying some hard work instead?
What do you think is the biggest waste of money in the fitness industry?
Please note: the author originally misidentified the Australian Fitness and Health Expo as the FILEX Convention. We apologise for this error, which has now been corrected.