The weird, wonderful world of fitness

This past weekend the biggest muscles, group fitness smiles, and tanned bodies gathered for the 2013 Australian Fitness & Health Expo. If you are protein junkie, then no doubt we rubbed triceps … I looked, you bought.

Did you go? If not, no worries because it's all here in this week's blog. Imagine walking in. There's energy. There's mega-tanned guys and gals checking out one another's bodies. Widened jaws and lats watch hips move and groove on the Zumba stage. The 140-beats-per-minute spin music is blaring so loudly you pray it won't still be in your head while you sleep.

If you weren't in Sydney for Australia's biggest health and fitness expo, here are my observations, so you haven't missed out:

1. I saw the biggest, strongest man I've ever seen, 'til I turned the corner and saw an even bigger, stronger man. He couldn't walk. He just kind of swayed back and forth to propel himself forward. People looked. People pointed. He loved it. It made me wonder – why and how does somebody get that big? It would all be so hard – to run. Sex. Clothes shopping. The bathroom. I'm seriously missing something here. Do people walking by and taking pictures with him really want to be that big? Where does one stop?

2. You can close your eyes and know you're at The Fitness Expo. Hospitals have their own smell. So do libraries. And gyms? That smell. The Expo was peppered with this mixture of rubber treadmill belts, new clothes, and protein farts. Ahhh, that luscious smell of fitness on display.

3. Protein is still the preferred cocaine of the gym industry. Upon entering the Expo, your freebie show bag was empty, yet big enough to park a medium-sized Holden in. Why? To encourage you to fill it with the biggest container of protein ever seen. It's hard to choose, as there are more flavours available than at Gelatissimo at Manly Wharf. Thousands of kilos of protein buckets were sold at massive mark-ups – more snake oil sold to the masses that don't need it.

4. Ed Hardy is somehow still in fashion. I don't know where people are sourcing this gear, but Ed Hardy singlets were still out in force at the Expo. I swear I saw the guys from Geordie Shore, or was it The Shire? Some kind of show on a shoreline. Straightened, matted hair, mega-tanned, biceps showing … checkin' out da chicks. Ladies? If it's a loud colour or it's from Brazil, it's in style. Brazil-branded gear has cemented its place in the gym market, which makes me want to predict and invest in the next country that might come into gym fashion – Chilean gym gear. Afghanistan. Luxembourg. Place your bets now.

5. There are more toys at the Fitness Expo than Sexpo. I saw new machines that have folks performing compound exercising while getting in cardio. Ab gadgets. Vibrating gadgets Stretching gadgets. Watches that do a million other things besides tell the time. Smartphone gadgets. The industry is making more physical and technical toys than ever, and people are throwing their plastic cards to buy what's being spruiked.

The above was all written with a serious dose of tongue in cheek. From technology shows to auto shows, industry oddities exist, and a bit of "show" and uniqueness never hurt anybody. Ultimately, everybody at the Expo is trying to create their own brand and style, and I am not one to fault any of them for that. For now … it's an interesting industry, but it can be a great one.

Ultimately, it's an industry that's trying to make sure the obesity rate doesn't hit 80 per cent - and that's serious business. With the total cost of caring for the nation's overweight and obese people at more than $56 billion a year, I worry that the example the mega-fit are setting for the rest of the population is they need to spend more on gadgets and over-hyped supplements.

Enough tongue in cheek. Every industry has downs, but they also have their ups. Over the past week, the industry has introduced me to a lot of cool things, like:

1. At the Expo, I had a chat with swimming gold medallist Michael Klim (Milk skin care) and Oxygen magazine editor Lindy Olsen – both are fit, healthy, and cool Australians looking to see a healthier community. Next door FILEX was on for industry professionals, and world-class speakers educated thousands looking to make a difference in the health and fitness industry.

2. The Men's Fitness Fit Bloke/Chick Challenge was run CrossFit-style at the Expo, and it was won by Ben Garard and Justine Beath.

3. I was grateful that Nike and Adidas sent shoes to trial, and somehow, both companies are producing top quality shoes with a 'less is more' approach. Minimalist shoes are being manufactured that are lightweight for a quality run, yet stable enough for a gym session.

4. Last week, I wrote about Australia's fittest athlete, and if you're keen to test your fitness skills and show your stuff on television, now you can. Greatest Athlete has launched for the masses and is accepting registrations for men, women, and kids 12 years old and up.

5. It's now easier to get healthy food … fast. Thr1ve utilises scientific research to create healthy menu items and will make food courts around Australia healthier. Eat Fit Food offers an array of eating plans – all fresh and tasty as hell; all delivered to your door. Muscle Meals cooks fresh, balanced meals and delivers to various drop-off points throughout Australia.

It was a busy Boot Camp week in the health and fitness industry. I met new folks, and I saw some cool yet wild and crazy things. Before I left the Expo, I threw away my supplement-suitcase-show bag and bought five skipping ropes for $15 – great value for the best gadget around. Keeping it simple still works, right?

What did you think of the Expo? What kind of toys/gadgets do you use for your workout?