In Praise of the Bigger, Bolder, Superhero Era of Fitness

To be considered fit in today’s society, you have to become a superhero. Luckily, explains Niko Algieri, reaching impossible heights has never been more possible

Growing up, we idolised our superheroes. Superman could lift buildings and fly faster than a speeding all whilst 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 these traits, with the unfortunate exception of flying, are elements of fitness that 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 drinks by the bucket load. 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 starters, the fitness industry has become an unstoppable behemoth. Last year, in the UAE alone, the industry was valued at $380 million, and 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. Now, we’re able, in a single week, to head freely between Barry’s Bootcamp, F45, a TRX class, CrossFit LifeSpark and wind down on Sunday with zen yoga. This variety is making us more rounded fitness machines than eve, superhero-like, even.

Social media can, in this case, also take a bow. Search #fitness on Instagram you’ll get 288.2m posts to feast your eyes on. Daily, we’re inundated with advice from fitness superstars 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 the explosion of knowledge and available classes? Start by thinking of your fitness elements as separate petrol tanks. Elements such as strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, power, balance and cardiovascular capacity all needing filling up regularly or they empty. The ambitious man should be aware of this need. Sure, it’s fantastic to bench one-and-a-half times your bodyweight but can you also handstand and then drop into a faultless downward dog while maintaining your breathing? Can you get up from there and a run a half marathon home in time to cook a nutritious meal fitted to your personal macros?

Break it down, and a rounded fitness base can be more achievable than you might imagine. Consider the different elements of fitness you are developing in that week. You’ll get your cardiovascular training and fat burning on the treadmills, you’ll build muscle and strength whilst lifting barbells at functional fitness boutiques, and develop your flexibility and mobility at yoga.

If all of this sounds a little intimidating, just remember, 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.