What they mean with those fitness buzzwords - and what we mean
The business end of fitness can be really daunting. There’s the gyms full of gym bunnies, a dizzying array of supplements and price tags that make your eyes water. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the fitness buzzwords flying around.
Funnily enough, while mortals understand athletes well enough, those who were born with athletic gifts don’t seem to be very good at understanding what the world of fitness looks like through our eyes.
I know people for whom these things actually matter, and that’s great. More power to them.
One of my female friends actually cycled the whole of the Tour de France in 2019 as part of a team advocating for more equal treatment in cycling (and as an aside, the ladies cycled further than the men that year, as one of the stages was cancelled). She'd be the first to congratulate me on meeting any of my modest little exercise goals. And I'd be the first to rush out and try and find her any one of the items on this list without any sniggering whatsoever.
But I think it's pretty clear that we move in very different fitness worlds!
And now, without further ado, here are 21 fitness buzzwords in our own terms, in alphabetical order - the juiciest ones are in the middle!
AbsWhat they think it meansMuscles you can only see on a highly trained, serious athlete (like me)What it really means*Sigh* Everyone has abs…..
Barefoot runningWhat they think it meansA way of feeling connected to Mother Earth as you run.What it really meansA way of getting a broken bit of bottle stuck in the sole of your foot, if you’re not careful.
Compression clothingWhat they think it means
Tightly-fitting gear that compresses your limbs and helps you recover from exercise more efficiently.What it really meansA way of getting you to part with too much money for something which has not yet actually been proven to be beneficial.
Impossible to get on and off without outside help.
CyclingWhat they think it meansA performance sport, where marginal gains matter, even to the amateur. For best results, a lightweight racing bike with toe clips and drop handlebars is required.What it really meansA nice way to get some fresh air when it isn’t raining, providing you don’t mind taking your life in your hands occasionally in traffic.
Fartlek trainingWhat they think it meansA way of adding bursts of more intense exercise that raise your heartrate into your routine at irregular intervals. Thought to be extremely effective.What it really meansErr…. correct. No sniggering at the back.
Foam rollerWhat they think it meansAn essential piece of equipment, used to self-massage muscles to recovery, so that you don’t have to miss a moment’s trainingWhat it really meansAn instrument of torture you don’t have the patience for which is looking at you accusingly from under the coffee table, where it is gathering dust.
HIITWhat they think it meansHigh intensity interval training - a highly effective way of getting results QUICKLY NOW! Let’s do it!What it really meansA bewildering, and bewilderingly sweaty set of precisely-timed instructions you’ll never remember in a month of Sundays.
What with all the warming up, resting and cooling down, it takes three times as long as advertised.
HydrationWhat they think it meansDrinking exactly the right amount of sports drinks and water to encourage peak performance.What it really meansA couple of gulps of water as an afterthought just before you go out and a nice cup of tea when you get in.
Also: unnecessarily lugging about a litre of water on a short walk or walk-run because you’ve heard hydration is essential. Feeling too daft to actually drink it.
Ice bathWhat they think it meansThe latest in post-exercise recoveryWhat it really meansYou have got to be kidding me!!!
LycraWhat they think it meansEssential performance fabric. And don't call me a MAMIL.What it really meansYou'll never catch me wearing that, you MAMIL, you!
NutritionWhat they think it meansEating carefully-planned meals and snacks following thoroughly-researched nutritional principles.What it really meansTrying not to eat more than your fair share of those sticky sweets Jackie from accounts brought back from Prague.
parkrunWhat they think it meansOoo, a chance to get an official time for my 5k! I’m going for a PB.What it really meansA nice, sociable trot round the park. Aren’t the marshalls great?
Quantifiable meWhat they think it meansA way of seeing yourself as nothing more than a very complicated Excel spreadsheet.What it really meansIs this what mankind has come to?
Resistance trainingWhat they think it meansA highly choreographed gym session, in which particular weights are used for particular movements a tightly specified number of times.What it really meansWhere you try and usually fail to do press ups, pull ups, lunges and tricep dips while getting very red in the face, having forgotten how many you’ve already done.
RunningWhat they think it meansFloating along at an impossible-looking pace, from time to time experiencing a “runner’s high”What it really meansAn “activity”, akin to shuffling, in which you move forward with both feet very briefly off the ground. Can look like barely moving at all.
Sports braWhat they think it meansFor women, another chance to adorn your person with branded sportswear.What it really meansAn essential, yet mythical item of clothing which no manufacturer has actually ever produced. Many brands claim to make them. They are all wrong.
Sports drinkWhat they think it meansFull of essential electrolytes. I only buy the best.What it really meansYeuch! Bleargh! Who comes up with this rubbish?!
StravaWhat they think it meansA brilliant app for testing yourself against the best amateurs. Did I tell you I’ve got 3 King of the Mountains? I did? Oh.What it really meansA way to either
make you feel completely inadequate or
Keep track of what you’ve been up to recently without having to do any sums
Join in with some virtual exercise groups if you feel a bit isolated.
Swimming gogglesWhat they think it meansEyewear that’s great for keeping water out of your eyes.What it really meansEyewear that’s great for letting water into your eyes. And trapping your hair painfully in the elastic strap.
Warm downWhat they think it meansA series of graceful movements, designed to prevent post-exercise stiffness.What it really meansIs this what A load of extra faffing about, most of which you’ve forgotten and are too tired to even think about once you’ve got in.has come to?
Warm upWhat they think it meansAnother series of graceful movements designed to warm up your muscles and ligaments, ready for a tip-top training session. Essential if you’re aiming for a personal best.What it really meansIs this Another load of extra stuff, most of which you’ve forgotten and are too embarrassed to perform in public anyway. A load of extra faffing about, most of which you’ve forgotten and are too tired to even think about once you’ve got in.has come to?
These are the ones I keep coming across - either online or in person. The swimming goggles made it to this very personal list because I'm fed up of mine. You might have other - and better - examples, which I hope you'll share with me using the hashtag #fiddlefitbuzzwords.
Whatever you think of the list and however negatively you might react to any of these words when you come across them in real life, the only purpose is to make you smile. I hope I've done enough to move the corners of your mouth upwards.