This is the time of year when people are thinking about getting in shape (for real this time) and are bombarded with messages from the fitness industry. People who are seeking fitness services put their trust – and their money – towards their goals, yet are often led down the wrong path.
Many times, when I read a book or an article, listen to a podcast or look at advertising in the fitness industry, I am downright frustrated by what I see and hear.
First, there’s the concept of “movement, even if it isn’t good, is better than no movement.” Sure, moving is better than not moving at all, but as fitness professionals, we should be saving people from the risk of injury and delivering a high-quality program or service. We should be guiding our clients down the right path with the right types of exercise. We should be educating them to make better decisions and be autonomous when we aren’t around.
Typically, when fitness facilities subscribe to this “just move” concept, there is a lack of regard for movement quality. There is also a priority on intensity – and joints, the central nervous system and hormones are eventually affected. There’s also lots of novelty, for instance, themed holiday workouts that are designed to kick your ass (think 12 rounds of 31 reps of several movements for new year’s eve). ANYONE can slap movements together a create a workout that will leave you sweaty and sore. But, was there a greater purpose? Is it one workout in a well-designed program that will lead to progression?
Next, are the sales tactics of gyms and fitness studios. I’ve read fitness business books where chapters are dedicated to sleazy sales schemes. These include making a super-high offer, then working people down. Or offering $1 for your first month, then roping them into a high ticket afterward. If these low-cost or bait-and-switch methods continue, people aren’t going to see the VALUE in investing in fitness for themselves – they will just look for a deal. High-quality fitness shouldn’t be a race to the bottom. Good trainers should be able to make a living while delivering service worth buying.
Onto challenges… Sure, a weight loss challenge can “kick start” your fitness journey, but more often than not, it’s done in an unsustainable way and the client gains the weight back…and then some. In fact, some studies show as much as 90% regain the weight. Fitness isn’t a six or eight-week stint. If you enroll in any sort of challenge, it should be structured in a way that allows you to make changes that become habits that last forever (and PS: sustainable weight loss is slower than you’d like it to be).
Then there’s the intake process…or lack thereof. Many gyms offer no assessment or consultation, they just throw people into the mix. Many of the instructors at the boot camp/aerobics-based facilities are cheerleaders or herders. They have no background in movement mechanics and lack the skills and experience to actually coach, consult on nutrition or know how to try and solve your aches and pains.
Bottom line: you have tons of options for fitness. The mantra of any trainer or facility should be “do no harm.” Big promises and absolutes should raise red flags. Be wary of too-good-to-be-true pricing and know that health is an investment worth making.
Here’s to becoming your best YOU!