Interesting! For years I had attributed this saying to a certain running shoe company that shall remain nameless. So, before I started, I Googled “No Pain No Gain,” because I was worried about copyright infringement.
One of the first among the 1,040,000 hits (and I used the specific phrase!) was a description of the saying from Wikipedia — the source of all important facts (just kidding — I get cranky when students in my classes cite Wikipedia, but, hey, a little bit of hypocrisy never hurt anyone).
At any rate, according to this trusted source, the saying came out of bodybuilding circles — apparently you won’t gain big muscles without a little bit of hurt. I wouldn’t know.
But I can be pretty sure that the saying did not come from an advertising campaign as I thought, although the nameless shoe company does allude to the theme in a commercial you can watch on YouTube — another amazing source of well-vetted information. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwjRtTKviSY
Make sure you read the comments. Those are the interesting bits … I can guarantee I didn’t “almost cry” when I watched this. But I digress.
I got thinking about this saying because I was told about a new reality show starring Shaquille O’Neal called “Shaq’s Boot Camp.” The point of the show, which is due to start in a few weeks, is to get overweight kids fit. My source (who is a respected professional, and no, I did not find her on the Internet, we had a real live conversation) saw some previews. As she told me:
What I recall is that at first Shaq was running with overweight boys on a track. They were huffing and puffing (the boys, not Shaq!!). At some point during the story they went to a shot of a young girl (I'd say early teens or younger) lying on a bed in a room like an emergency room or treatment room, with people around her concerned about her heart rate I think I recall seeing a stethescope at some point She was lying with her eyes closed... It was a scary scene.
You know I don't recall if they were doctors or medics or ordinary people or parents or what ... but I recall thinking that my goodness, this scene of a young girl obviously in trouble from overexertion possibly or who knows what does not create a positive happy note of “OH, let's go exercise and lose weight and be healthy.”
… the impression I was left with was that exercise is work, exercise is not fun, exercise can be dangerous. Shaq's program seemed to me to be one to get young people active and healthy, which is good, but I recall thinking that any kid watching might think it looks like “torture.”
So, once again the message will come across loud and clear: “no pain, no gain” or worse — exercise is dangerous. But using a celebrity will mean this show will be watched by many people, and the wrong message will be remembered yet again.
Unfortunately, “moderate physical activity leads to substantial health benefits” isn’t quite as snappy a saying as “no pain no gain.” Here’s the message I got back from Google:
Your search — “moderate physical activity leads to substantial health benefits” —- did not match any documents.
So I modified my search to “moderate physical activity can lead to health benefits” and got back one hit, from the U.S. department of Health and Human services, Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention.
On a more positive note, “Active Living” got 966,000 hits but scrolling through the first couple hundred did not result in any links to celebrity shows or YouTube videos.
The long and short of it is that we need to up our media presence. Any celebrities out there looking for a cause?
(As an aside, I’m well aware that although I didn’t name the running shoe company, I still managed to name at least four other commercial enterprises in a 677-word blog and linked you to a commercial advertisement. I’m not helping my own cause, am I?)