Yesterday I watched a trainer use an App to determine what a client should take to help lose the final 5 pounds toward their target weight.

Backstory, gym behavior being public, I was on a cardio machine next to the client so couldn’t help but witness the story unfold. The client complained about not being able to lose the final pounds even with ‘strict dieting and doing everything right’ so pleaded with the trainer to help. The trainer obliged by using their phone to access a nutritional App that identified weight-loss aids. Then, reading off the screen, advised the client to take an herb supplement and digestive enzymes. The identified herb is presumed to be safe, but isn’t known to offer benefit other than to promote regularity. As for digestive enzymes, well, there are different types, but the trainer just said (or should I say read) ‘buy digestive enzymes, then take one pill after each meal.’ Enzymes can help mitigate specific digestive issues but similar to the suggested herb, promote, you got it, regularity for those with otherwise normal function.

The client had a noticeable spring in their step with the advice – which I couldn’t help but wonder how long would last once the digestive effect of the herb AND the enzymes took hold…

I also couldn’t help but think how (likely) unnecessary the conversation would have been had the trainer been instructing the client to engage in cardio at more than leisurely intensity during their sessions. Again gathered from public gym behavior, the client’s cardio protocol was to walk on the level treadmill for 15 minutes at 2.5 mph. Because the client was able to hold a normal conversation with the trainer during the stroll with NO noticeable respiration change it can be concluded that exertion was low-moderate at best, most likely low. And from the conversation itself the client made it clear this was the only cardio activity engaged in.

Any activity is better than no activity, but more benefit is gained with intensity that is at least moderate, including weight loss. From this perspective, it’s not difficult to figure out why the client hit a weight loss plateau. That point aside, as well as steering clear of addressing the trainer’s lack of professional capacity, the point here is a cautionary tale about our increasing reliance on Apps to fix things or source answers, and do it NOW!, especially related to wellness/physical activity.

For some things, Apps are great – I sure don’t miss standing in line at the bank or writing checks to pay bills – and with technology continuously evolving it may seem there will be one for everything, EXCEPT to induce the magical benefit of physical activity engagement. Cheers for any App that helps sustain regular, achievement-oriented physical activity, but realize the finite limitation. You are going to have to breathe hard all on your own.