Most of us are not professional athletes, but we have a desire to stay fit, so we go to the gym or run or take up some other athletic activity. We see there many other people like ourselves: busy people with jobs, trying to make a prudent tradeoff between the time we spend in the gym and the other demands of our off-time. There we also see what are usually referred to as “gym rats”—guys and the occasional gal for whom the gym is their second home, who spend most of their free time there, and who are, not surprisingly, in tremendous shape. In some gyms we even run into professional bodybuilders and professional fitness athletes whose accomplishments are far beyond our reach. These people are in a world of their own, one that has little in common with ours. They do this full-time and their workouts, diet and supplements are meant for someone at their level, not ours.
Now, if you look at the fitness magazines on the market, they feature either the gym rat types or the pros in all the pictures and articles. Articles in these magazines dwell on their workout routines, their meals and their nutrition. While we can get enthusiastic reading about these people, we also realize that our aim usually has to be more modest. We have to realize that we are in the gym to be healthier and fitter, not to compete in elite events or to become fitness models. While we have to resign ourselves to a lesser physique than the pros and gym rats, we don’t have to settle for anything that we should be embarrassed about either. The industry’s exercise professionals realize this too, and they more or less concur on some quite attainable standards that the average person should meet to consider themselves fit: running three miles at 8 minutes a mile, bench pressing one’s body weight, holding a plank position for 2 minutes or so, and so on. Naturally, more is better, but someone able to do these standards shouldn’t worry too much about their lack of fitness being a health concern.