In Praise of the Superhero Era of Fitness
Growing up, we idolised our superheroes. Superman could lift buildings and fly faster than a speeding bullet – all while looking like Mr Olympia. Batman, a genius billionaire, was an agile beast trained by ninjas. Spider-Man was a nimble hero, replete with unbelievable strength, flexibility and power.
All of these traits – except for flying, unfortunately – are elements of fitness we can train and develop to the point that, for a brief moment, we can feel super, too.
For men, fitness has changed forever. Think back. A decade ago, we were doing chest and arms every day, drinking protein shakes by the bucketload. Five years ago, it was all about six-days-a-week CrossFit and comparing WOD times over an agonising paleo diet. Nowadays, we’re doing more. Nowadays, we’re doing everything. And that’s a good thing.
What has facilitated this change in male fitness? For one thing, the fitness industry has become an unstoppable behemoth. Last year, in the UAE alone, the industry was valued at $380 million, and it’s still growing.
Part of that shift came from consumer demand, which led to the explosion of app-based providers offering access to dozens of different facilities – all while charging competitive monthly membership prices like traditional gyms.
Now, fitness is so much more than a weights room. We’re able, in a single week, to head freely between Barry’s Bootcamp, F45, a TRX class, CrossFit LifeSpark and then wind down on Saturday with Zen yoga. This variety is making us more rounded fitness machines, and even – dare I say – more superhero-like.
Social media can, in this case, also take a bow. Search for #fitness on Instagram – you’ll find over 292 million posts to feast your eyes on. Every day we’re inundated with advice from fitness icons such as The Rock, Dylan Werner, Matt Fraser, Bret Contreras and Jay Maryniak. They’re lifting, pressing, jumping, handstanding, cycling, running, swimming, stretching and posting their daily meal plans. With mentors like these, are there really any excuses left to make?
So, how can you harness this explosion of knowledge and available classes? Start by thinking of your fitness elements as separate petrol tanks. Elements such as strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, balance and cardiovascular capacity all need regular filling up or they empty. The ambitious man should be aware of that. Sure, it’s fantastic to bench one-and-a-half times your body weight, but can you also handstand and then drop into a faultless downward dog while maintaining your breathing?
Can you get up from there and run a half-marathon home in time to cook a nutritious meal tailored to your personal macros?
Sure, this might seem like an impossible standard to achieve, but a rounded fitness base is closer than you might imagine. Honest. Just break it down for a moment.
You’ll get your cardiovascular training and fat burning on the treadmill, you’ll build muscle and strength while lifting barbells at functional fitness boutiques, and you’ll develop your flexibility and mobility at yoga.
If all of this sounds a little intimidating, don’t forget that being a superhero isn’t all flying and benching buildings. It’s hard work, too. Remember that classic line from Spider-Man? It works just as well backwards – because, with great responsibility comes great power.
From our October 2018 issue.