No shortcuts


The entire fitness industry can be traced back to one marketing genius – Charles Atlas. He placed full-page ads in the back of 1960’s comic books to be read by 12 year old boys like me (with bad complexions and serious self-esteem issues) promising the shortcut to a magnificent physique. 


I remember silently agreeing with him, “Yeah, I don’t want the beach bully to kick sand in my face and steal my girlfriend! “ Never mind that I didn’t HAVE a girlfriend, and the nearest beach was thousands of miles from Kokomo, Indiana.


But I sent in my $1.99 in a self-addressed, stamped envelope anyway…hoping for the promise of instant perfection.  The reality?  The Charles Atlas scientific bodybuilding system was a few pages of exercises that I already knew from gym class, and the instruction for me to do this hard work every day, and oh yeah… eat lots of protein. That’s it?  I did the exercises for two days and then quit after it started to hurt.  So much for the shortcut.


Author Scott Peck offers a word of advice on shortcuts.  He starts his book “The Road Less Travelled” with the three-word sentence “Life is difficult.”

Then he goes on to say, in so many words, “The sooner you embrace this reality, the less difficult it will be.”  Come on!  Since when have I wanted to embrace reality?!


It’s not easy to embrace hard work and persistence.  The shortcut may LOOK faster and easier, but the reality is that it does not produce long-lasting results. You can attempt to speed through life on the shortcuts, or choose to slow down and put in the effort.  If you choose to slow down on this “road less travelled” you’ll experience all the joy AND all the pain… but won’t you arrive at your destination with the full satisfaction that you earned it?

Click here for the next chapter of this story.


Explore posts in the same categories: Motivation

2 Comments on “No shortcuts”

  1. Rich Hopkins Says:

    Gee, sounds like an international speech – all it needs is personal application of the principles.

  2. […] wrote a short story about shortcuts in April 2009, and mentioned the Charles Atlas bodybuilding course as an example of a quick fix […]

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