I once drove past a billboard for a gym that boldly proclaimed:

Better Equipment = Better Bodies

It always amazes me how people get caught up in the fancy things before addressing the most basic, foundational issues. It happens with just about everything in life, but as we’ve begun the New Year, let’s talk about fitness and nutrition.

People often neglect what they should be doing or eating in favor of the newest trend. I followed a social media post by a hard training MMA fighter who felt run down and beat up the majority of the time. He noted that he was taking 9 different supplements just to be able to function. When asked about his diet, he admitted he’d been eating poorly. He’d been living on fast food as he was spending too much on supplements to be able to eat healthy foods. Does something seem off here to you? Supplements are made simply for that – to supplement an already good diet. I like to call this The Sexy Stuff. Some supplements may potentially help you, but if your diet is screwed up, you should fix that first. Don’t worry about taking something that might give you an edge. Your clean eating opponent already has the edge, regardless of what you are taking. Without a good foundation, the sexy stuff is wasted.

As a gym owner, I see this a lot in salesmen. Someone is always trying to sell me on some exotic miracle fruit juice found only in some remote location on the planet. Occasionally these guys are in pretty good shape, but frequently they are not. If you don’t look like you take care of yourself, it’s going to be challenging to convince me what you are offering is better than what I am already doing.

This also occurs with exercises and fitness trends. There is always something new and exciting that is guaranteed to be better than anything you’ve ever tried. In all reality, people have been achieving incredible fitness since the beginning of time with basic movements and an active lifestyle. That’s not to say as a strength coach, I don’t dabble in the new and exciting. But if you cannot do a basic push-up, I’m not going to have you bench pressing on a Swiss ball while I throw tennis balls at you. Are creative exercise progressions useful and can we see great results incorporating them? Of course, but they are still the sexy stuff. Progression is just that — taking what you are proficient at and making it more challenging. If you can’t control your posture and knee alignment during a bodyweight squat, you shouldn’t progress to doing it with weight. There’s an old adage that says you can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe. Regretfully, I’ve never had a cannon, but I briefly threw large rocks from a canoe trying to splash my cousins. Naturally, it flipped and we spent a significant amount of time fighting the current, trying to free our submerged canoe from the underwater roots it had become wedged under. I also never saw my left shoe again.

As you are pursuing your 2020 goals, remember that all things fitness and nutrition rely on building upon a solid foundation. When you have the basics down, you can move on to more complex things. Moving ahead too quickly sets you up for injury, lack of progress, or sunken canoes. Too many people jump around from one trend to another without really putting in the time to see if any of them actually work.

Better equipment isn’t responsible for better bodies as the billboard claimed. It starts with the desire and determination to work hard for what you want. The discipline and dedication to work toward your goal is what makes a better body. A wise strength coach once said, “A poor program with a ton of effort will yield better results than a great program with poor effort. But with a great program and a ton of effort, you’ll really see great results. It’s all about determination and hard work. Great equipment is nice too of course, but that’s the sexy stuff. Set detailed goals, commit to disciplined hard work, don’t quit when motivation fades and enjoy reaping the rewards in due time.

Arlo Gagestein owns Competitive Edge Fitness in Ogden.

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