Do you remember the story of the old religious cult from 1978 that ended in a mass-suicide in Jonestown, Guyana? Jim Jones, the leader of the group, convinced his followers to commit suicide by drinking grape flavoured Kool-Aid laced with potassium cyanide. It’s a tragic story, where 913 of the 1,100 Jonestown residents drank the Kool-Aid and died for a religious belief that was – to put it lightly – questionable.
This tragic story however has shifted in meaning over the years to mean two things – either stay away from goofy things that make no sense or embrace this great new thing. “Do not drink the Kool-Aid” is a warning to avoid something that makes no sense and will actually do you harm.
Today I am talking about the positive version of the term – the fact that you, ‘need to drink the Kool-Aid’, and the group I am saying you need to join is the health and fitness cult. It’s funny and a little sad that folks think fitness and health is a cult or anything other than a smart idea – but then again, I drank the Kool-Aid back in 1998.
It is indeed a challenge for people like me, people passionate about changing the world, about sharing how great it is to be fit and healthy, to speak to regular folks who have clearly not drank the Kool-Aid. It’s like we are aliens, speaking a different language. As a trainer, speaker and enthusiastic health nut it is easy for me to assume that everyone understands that eating well and exercising is logical, smart and the natural thing to do. But it is easy to forget that most people do not feel that way any more.
When we get a new client in the gym or I speak to a group of people (as I did last week, speaking to the staff at Progressive Waste Solutions), I need to share the experience of being fit and healthy and ultimately, encourage a group of people to drink the Kool-Aid. My job is to tell the story of when I was fat and sick, stressed and unhealthy, eating for fun, living on sugar and fat, sitting around letting my greatest gift – my body. Then I need to show the benefits of being more healthy, more alive and having more fun, and hopefully, have people see the need to drink the Kool-Aid.
I think most people get that eating well and moving your body is the right thing to do – so why don’t they? Why are most people out of shape? Why is obesity an epidemic? Why are we losing this battle?
To be honest the other kind of Kool-Aid leaders are out there too – and they have bigger budgets than I do. I write a little newspaper article trying to help you see the benefits of living a great life. They have SuperBowl commercials telling you how great their chemical crap product will taste, how cool you will look and how fun it is to be part of their cool group. People drink that Kool-Aid in gallon buckets.
Every grocery store, gas station, fast food restaurant and convenience store is full of anti-health items masquerading as food. But I am asking you to trust me.
Drink the Kool-Aid that will not result in you committing suicide over time. Back in the 80s there was a saying – “Choose life.” I am asking you to drink the health and fitness Kool-Aid, and have a great life with me.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.