Every weekend when I am in the gym prior to doing my spinning classes I do 30-45 minutes on an elliptical trainer. There is a bank of televisions in front of the machines and early on Saturday and Sunday two of the screens are generally showing infomercials for fitness stuff. There is one machine that looks like a frame with handles on pulleys, and one-time-famous-supermodel Christie Brinkley is promoting this, along with one-time-political-campaigner Chuck Norris. Everyone shown using the machine looks completely chiselled so they take it to the beach in California to try out on average people, everyone of whom also looks completely chiselled. My favourite segment is when a large group (as in very large crowd) of people stand around to watch Christie Brinkley working out on the machine.
But the other infomercial is more intriguing. It offers a 12 week course for around $140 that is supposed to turn you into a ripplingly-muscled athlete. It actually looks very impressive: you get 12 DVDs with a series of workouts including yoga and stretching (of course, I like the one called "Ab Ripper X"), a workout calendar, a nutrition plan and extensive on-line support. Although I am quite happy with my current training plan, which is cycling-oriented, this program looked quite good although many of the workouts seemed brutally hard. And can you really get a ripped physique in only 3 months?
The answer, according to the New York Times, is no. Fitness requires a considerable investment in time and the changes are gradual. The NYT piece quotes a number of experts, including several who lost a great deal of weight themselves. But the six months to a year to see real change is not so bad and I have to remind myself of this when I don't see improvements as fast as I would like. So even if I will not "get absolutely ripped in 90 days," as the infomercial says, I have to look at this as a lifetime journey and keep my motivation strong.