I’m nerdy enough to have a list of favorite science experiments.
And one that definitely cracks my top ten is a study that set out to determine if bees could perceive time.
The experiment was pretty simple. Every day at 4PM, the researchers would put a dish of sugar water outside a beehive and every day at 4PM bees would exit the hive in search of the water, ultimately whether the dish was there or not.
But, as is typical of most good experiments, the scientists weren’t satisfied with these results. They wanted to solve for any possible variables that could be influencing the outcome.
“What if the bees were just perceiving the angle of the sun?” they asked.
“Simple, we’ll do the experiment in the dark.”
And even with that change, the bees still came out at 4PM every day.
“Well, what if the bees are just sensing a change in temperature?”
“Good point,” said the scientists. “We’ll do the experiment in an underground salt mine that is both dark and temperature controlled.”
This went on and on until a scientist from a different University heard about the experiment and figured out a way to solve for all the variables.
He replicated the experiment, but in France. Once he had trained the bees to leave the hive at 4PM he packed them up, got on a plane and landed in New York.
Next day, at 10AM, the bees came out of the hive. And since France is 6 hours ahead of New York, this was pretty compelling proof that the bees were jet lagged and could perceive time.
There are many reasons I love this experiment. Number one, who doesn’t love bees? I mean, they give us honey which is undeniably delicious and (bonus nerd fact!) has the longest shelf life of any natural food. Secondly, I appreciate that they tried to solve for all the potential holes that could falsely prove the initial hypothesis.
And this leads me to my favorite thing about this experiment: it is a great and easy to understand example of the scientific method. Of not just setting out to prove the hypothesis but spending as much energy to disprove it as well. To have a relentless pursuit of the truth and an understanding that that pursuit inherently will have limitations.
Our training is driven by this scientific method. And – at the risk of sounding bold or obtuse – is what makes it superior to fitness trends that are solely designed to captivate your imagination or make false promises in an effort to simply grab your money.
Allow me to take a small step back to make something clear, if you engage in a fitness class or particular modality because you enjoy it or you want to spend time with your peer group or it makes you happy, those are actually wonderful and valid reasons to continue doing what it is you are doing.
But if you are driven by efficacy and result, then following a training program that uses best practices to drive a particular result just makes sense.
For the most part the exercises and tools we use have been around for a long time (or they are advancements on things that have been around for a long time) and have been researched extensively, This is why we can proclaim they work with so much confidence. We are also fortunate enough to have seen it work repeatedly over the years. Personal experience is part of the equation.
And the way we utilize these tools and exercises follow a science-based thought process that have stood the test of time and yield results. Now, luckily for you, we arrange all these things in a way that is psychologically engaging while still adhering to those principles.
This allows us to provide effective training without it feeling repetitive or stale or boring. We put significant effort into it and, honestly, it’s quite the trick to pull off.
Any and every industry needs to innovate and experiment to move forward, but that shouldn’t come at your expense. If a new concept or modality is just unleashed on the public without proof of effectiveness while still promising that very thing – well that is the very definition of a scam.
There is a very simple way to protect against this. Next time you follow a program or go to a class or engage in any kind of fitness, ask the creator to explain what it is you are about to do, why you are doing it and what are the expected outcomes. If they have no clear answer or your bullshit detector hits the red zone it may be time to reassess.
I fully realize that these types of posts can come off as a bit salty. But when you dedicate your life to trying to help people (we may seem like a gym but this is the actual business we find ourselves in) witnessing others profit off the naivety of the public becomes a tough pill to swallow.
We are not the only ones who think this way. But we are in the minority.
I do, however, have hope. And if I have to educate everyone out there on what effective and meaningful training is on a case-by-case basis, I’m willing to take it on.
Besides raising my kid, it may be the most important thing I ever do.