So let's ignore the pros and modern-day Olympians for right now. For a while, let's also ignore convicts and their training methods. What about everyone else? The rest of us are told-by the magazines, TV shows, fitness gurus and even government health agencies-that if we want to shape up, we need to "get to the gym." What does this entail? Generally speaking, it involves two things these days; cardio machines and weights work — either free weights, or expensive resistance machines.
It's difficult to think of anything more futile, depressing and tedious than the cardio machine section of a modern gym. You've all seen the drill; rows and rows of gym members silently rowing nowhere, spinning their wheels or stepping up non-existent stairs with very little intensity and winning hardly any gains by way of real-world results.
And as for the weights work? There tend to be two types of approaches to this. Firstly, there's the generalized, feminine "toning" attitude--get into a machine on its lowest setting or pick up the teeniest dumbbells you can, and begin the monotonous counting. This charade might look good in a chrome-clad gym if you are covered in spandex but trust me, it does zero for your health and absolutely nothing for your fitness and conditioning levels. Then there's the "macho" school of weight-training; heavy bench presses and plenty of biceps curls are the rule, here. Never mind that these exercises ruin the joints and actually do little for genuine functional strength; never mind that modern "bodybuilding" either neglects or damages those muscles which are most crucial for authentic power and athleticism-the spinal erectors, the waist, the hands and feet, the neck, and the deeper tissues of the human system like the transversus or rotator cuff muscles. As long as you look pumped up in a T-shirt, that's all that matters, right?