Are You Buying Results, Or Just Tools?

Jo from SimplyBeingMum had a great post the other day talking about gym memberships, and her current fitness journey without one. It got me thinking about how often we confuse the end result with the tools that get us there – especially when we’re making a purchase.

Gyms are a great example. If the equation for getting fit is:

Fitness = Correct Equipment + Correct Use + Sufficient Time

then the reality of what the gym is selling normally falls into the category of “correct equipment”. But gym equipment is boring. Unless somebody already has a lot of fitness knowledge, the difference between brands of treadmills is really pretty minor.

Since gym equipment is boring, and boring things don’t sell well, they sell something other than the equipment. What they advertise is a new body. They’ll parade picture after picture of “success stories” in front of you – people that joined their gym and lost weight, got in shape, and look great. If you just join their gym, you’ll look like those people!

The problem, of course, is that’s a complete crock. Nobody can sell you a new body (except maybe a plastic surgeon). In fact, it’s not even a realistic picture.

It’s a well-known fact that most of the people who join gyms stay overweight and unhealthy. Many of them just never go. Others exercise a few times a week, but don’t make the dietary changes that are usually required to lose weight and gain health. Even the majority of the success stories don’t “owe it all to the gym”, despite what the ads will have you believe.

This is because just having the tools isn’t enough.

I could drop somebody in a room with treadmills, weight benches, protein drinks, and an unlimited pile of salad greens, but if they decide they’re going to go get a pizza all the equipment & healthy food is worthless.

The result the successful people get is a result of eating right, working out frequently, working out properly, and otherwise making healthy changes in their lives.

Of course this isn’t just about gyms. Pots & pans, tools, books, organization systems, cosmetics, and thousands of other products all require effort on our part in order to be useful. The question when we’re buying them needs to be, “am I willing and able to put forth the effort needed to get the results I want?”

The answer can certainly be “no”. If it is, that’s okay. But if we press ahead and spend money on the “what” without giving serious consideration to the companion questions of “when”, “where”, and “how”, we’re just setting ourselves up for perhaps the worst possible question to be asking in hindsight – “why?”

As for Jo, she’s in fantastic shape – without a gym membership. Nearest I can tell the biggest investment she’s made in exercise is a good pair of sneakers, which is awesome! What about you? Do you have a “less is more” success story? I’d love it if you shared it in the comments!

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12 Responses - Add Your Input!

Posted April 19, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

Thanks for the shout out! My whole series of ‘Not Buying It’ posts came from my original idea to post about Gym memberships. I don’t believe you can buy a solution to health and fitness – it’s a way of life not a product or purchase. In fact there’s very little I believe you can ‘buy’ a solution to. A phrase comes to mind ‘All the gear no idea’. For years I’ve wanted to learn more about photography, but have delayed buying a DSLR camera. I’ve just bought one, but am holding out until my actual skill level develops before I invest in another lens (I’d like one for macro shots). A new lens won’t transform my photography, lot’s of practice and sticking at it will. Once I’ve mastered the basics I’ll make a purchase to take me to that next level – walk before you can run!
Jo@simplybeingmum recently posted..Making It – A Simple Birthday Cake

    Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by Jo! I actually did photography back in high school. Macro lenses are fun stuff – you can get right on top of things and get some really neat shots.

    I also remember that in photography class some of the best artistic photos were taken with pretty basic cameras, and standard lenses (film back then, not digital obviously!) Cheap equipment + good photographer = good photos.

    Which, of course, is the point. :) Thanks for commenting, and good luck with your photography endeavors!

Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

So true! I think of the number of people who have gourmet kitchens but don’t cook. I would do unspeakable things for a gourmet kitchen because baking is my life’s passion. Kitchens have become so important in the states when selling a home yet so many people do nothing but packaged foods or eat out instead. So sad. Such a waste of resources.
joanna @ I Won’t Be a Hoarder Too recently posted..Just put down the camera. Just put it down.

    Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Thanks for commenting Joanna!

    Someday I want to walk into a kitchen store where I’ll never have to encounter the sales people ever again (maybe when I’m travelling), gesture toward the All Clad cookware, and ask, “excuse me, which of these pots do you think would be most effective for reheating delivered pizza?”

    I think it’d be a fair question, given how little use most expensive cookware actually sees in the home.

    The real question is, how do we get back to the point where we actually cooked meals in our own kitchens?

Posted April 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

I really enjoyed this post/essay! Whether the subject is fitness or virtually anything else, too often we think “buying the tool” will resolve the problem/need, and it often doesn’t work that way. I’m sharing this on FB. Thanks!

    Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Glad you liked the post! Thanks for the share; they’re always appreciated. :D

Posted April 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

I call this throwing money at my problem…which is something I was raised to do and something I still struggle with, though I am getting better. I tended to go way overboard with most things. Want to lose weight? I’d buy a complete program, gym membership or home equipment, workout clothes, new expensive shoes, and of course tons of new-to me-expensive food items and kitchen gear to help me be successful with my new healthy lifestyle. You know, instead of eating more vegetables and going for a daily walk. o.0 I’ve repeated that more times than I care to remember and in more areas than just health and fitness, sigh.
Heidi @Adventures of a Thrifty Mom recently posted..Broken Arm Saga

    Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    Definitely been there and done that. :) To me the biggest thing is the kitchen gear. The food at least gets eaten and it’s done with, but throwing hundreds of dollars at a specialized mixer, juicer, or crazy set of special pans that you’ll never use really hits hard because there’s frequently no way to get your value out of them.

    Thanks for commenting Heidi!

Posted April 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

I often take this one step further and add this theory to religions/life philosophies/etc. They are often tools that can help, but can not solve your problems by themselves. I often see this with the minimalist movement–that it’s a great tool that will SOLVE your problems! However, minimalism is JUST a tool. It’s all in HOW you choose to use and apply it. Thanks for the reminder :)

    Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    Exactly. Minimalism is an awesome tool, don’t get me wrong – but it, like other tools, is useless without some intelligent application. :D

    Thanks for commenting Megyn!

Posted May 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

You made some first rate factors there. I looked on the web for the issue and found most individuals will go along with along with your website.

Posted May 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

My gym is in the spare bedroom. My membership dues go directly to the household bills. Every morning i “ride” my spinning bike for an hour and a half, shower and make breakfast. Simple and direct. Some may like the idea of exercising in a group but for me solitude works so much better. I control the pace and routine and time line. I am at Peace.

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