What Do We "Need" To Stimulate Positive Physical Change?

by Phil Kaplan


The word "need" can be interpreted many ways. 

I would think it means necessity, as in a "need to eat" or a "need for shelter." 

My wife, apparently, has her own definition.  She goes from mall to mall because she "needs" shoes.  I wouldn't attempt to count the shoes in her closet.  I can count her feet.  She has two.  Why she "needs" more shoes is beyond me, but here's how it's been explained.

 "You wouldn't understand.  It's a woman thing." She's probably right.


But We're Not Talking About Shoes . . . We're Talking About Health & Fitness

Let's agree that when it comes to being healthy, we do have needs, and just as South Florida female shoe-shoppers in any mall at any time may disagree with my definition of necessity, I disagree with many of the claims I hear related to those "fitness things" that people apparently "need."

  • You "need" access to a "circuit of machines."
  • You "need" a membership.
  • You "need" to buy organic food.
  • You "need" to buy expensive walking shoes.
  • You "need" creatine, you "need" a hormonal precursor, and you "need" a protein supplement.

 Let's get down to reality.  My wife doesn't "need" more shoes.  She "wants" more shoes (a trait I believe she gets from her mother), and if you want access to a circuit of machines, a health club membership, organic foods, or supplements, then great.  They're all accessible.  They are NOT, however solutions, nor are they NEEDS.


What do you really need to begin a result-oriented program of positive physical change?

First you need to understand what I call the Fitness Truth.  The power to change comes from understanding how to facilitate that change, so you do "need," at least at first, someone or something who can share a true technology of change. 

You "need" to eat supportively, getting nutrient dense meals low in or free from simple sugars, refined carbohydrates, and excessive fats or hydrogenated fats. 

Challenge me all you want, tell me about supplements that "suck fat out of your digestive system," and give me the hour long sermon about the network marketing product that allows you to eat anything you want without fear of consequence.  I've heard all of the "you don't have to eat right" come-ons.  It's all smoke.  It's all hype.  It's all misrepresentation of reality. 

Supportive Eating is an ABSOLUTE NEED if you're seeking physical improvement.

Then . . . there's the pump . . .

You "need" some modality for elevating the heart rate moderately.  You don't need a fancy treadmill, you don't need an elliptical climber or glider, and you don't even need a heart rate monitor.  Do these items have value?  Sure, but they aren't needs.  Without some means of moderately elevating heart rate, and maintaining that heart rate elevation, your ability to improve health and will-being is crippled. Conversely, if you perform some exercise integrating rythmic movement of the large muscle groups to moderately elevate heart rate, you stimulate the body's ability to increase the efficiency with which the heart and lungs operate. 

People get so caught up in believing they "need" special machines or devices excuses are simple to find. 

"I can"t workout because I "need" to renew my membership." 

If you want an aerobic training effect, do twenty laps around your house, put on a CD and dance the dance you love to dance when nobody's watching, or if you have a decent set of bedsprings, jump up and down on your bed. 

Climb up and down a ladder, skip in circles, do jumping jacks, or pretend you have springs on your feet and bounce in place.  Swim, walk a bit faster than you usually do for fifteen or twenty minutes, or crawl up and down the steps of your house.  Sure some of these suggestions sound the least bit insane, and I'm not suggesting a mature adult should dance, crawl, or jump on the bed . . . but conceptually I want you to recognize . . . anything you do that elevates the heart rate moderately can serve as the aerobic exercise modality.  The treadmill, the bike, the stairclimber, and the elliptical glider are all simply options.  Not needs.


You "need" water, but then again, that applies for anyone who has the simplest and most primitive goal.  Survival. 

I'd say if you seek optimal health, you need to remain hydrated, to drink a good amount of water.  The old rule of 8 glasses a day isn't scientific, it isn't a "need," but it is a pretty good guideline.

There's one more need. 


You absolutely must ask your body to do more than it's used to.  This serves to maintain muscle and prevent the metabolic slowdown we've come to mistakenly associate with aging. 

Resistance exercise stimulates increases in bone density and makes the fear of osteo-disease a non-entity.  Resistance exercise shapes muscle and stokes the body's ability to release and metabolize fat.   Does that mean you "need" the selectorized machine you saw advertised in the Sunday newspaper?  No.  Does it mean you need Nautilus machines?  No.  Does it mean you have to join a ladies' health club where they have special hydraulic resistance machines?  No.  It just means you have to challenge muscle.  Exercise doesn't equate to "machines."  Exercise equates to movement. 

You can do pushups, pull-ups, and squats and stimulate muscle increase.  You can lift a pair of dumbbells performing 8 exercises for repetitions and stimulate muscle.  You can use a medicine ball, a rock, water resistance, elastic tubing, or a bit of creativity.  You can hold a towel and your spouse can hold the ends performing pulling, pushing, rotating, and . . .  well . . . beyond that the creativity comes in to play.  You can lift a side of beef over your head for repetitions, you can pull the trash can back and forth across your driveway, you can fill the trash can with rocks and pull it down the street, or you can try to topple a tree. 

You don't "need" machines.

OK, now that we've shared reality, let's turn to common sense, as the two make for powerful partners. 

Before hordes of my customers, clients, listeners, and seminar attendees start crawling up and down steps and attempting to topple trees, I want to clarify, my message has little to do with jumping on the bed.

This article is intended to ground you, to allow you to apply sensibility, to protect you from "need-sellers," and to empower you to move toward physical excellence.  In the real world, a health club is certainly a viable option, as is a home exercise investment.  Just make certain if you opt to invest, you understand the value of your investment and you decide to make the purchase because you "want" something, not because you believe you "need" it.


My newest program, the 21-Day Journey to Excellence, has people of all levels finding optimal fitness using the following tools: 

    • A medicine ball
    • A stability ball
    • Elastic tubing
    • A couple of relatively light pair of dumbbells
 The program provides all of the necessities: 
  1. Empowerment, clarity, and a proven technology
  2. Simple integration of Supportive Nutrition
  3. The ability to elevate the heart rate moderately
  4. The ability to challenge muscle and stimulate positive change

OK, wait a minute, there are a few more necessities . . . the necessities you HAVE TO wear. You can certainly spend lots and lots of money on hot trendy exercise clothes, or you can get the essentials at great prices by selecting brands from the drop down menus below . . .

Men's Brands:

Women's Brands:

By implementing simple tools into an exercise program, and by recognizing that human movement has absolutely nothing to do with machines, you can turn a short jog around your dining room table into a triathlon over time, or you can lift a pair of soup cans for repetitions today and find yourself moving toward a physical strength that remains yet untapped, or you can commit 20-30 minutes 4 days per week to exercise movements and find that every task, from carrying groceries to lifting children gets easier and easier. 

I won't argue with the apparent "need" women have for sixteen pair of black shoes, nine pair of beige shoes, and purses to match each pair.  I know better than to enter that argument. I don’t understand it, but who am I to argue a woman thing.   I just know I think a bit more sensibly.  I know what I "need."  I need food, resistance, aerobic movement, water, sleep, some physical affection (that's the polite way of addressing a need), and some chicken nachos, a TV with satellite, and a comfortable recliner to watch the Jets play during football season. 

Hmmm.  Well, I guess it's a guy thing.

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