Americans’ attempts to improve their health are plummeting faster than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, according to the results of a new study
published in the June issue of The American Journal of Medicine. What makes this most distressing is that
it is happening despite countless government campaigns to improve the
nation’s dietary and exercise habits.
Dedicated fitness professionals in Australia are regularly inspiring people to become healthy, says Ken Baldwin, fitness professional and presenter in Brisbane, Australia, who has worked in the industry for over 25 years. “We are becoming more credible and expanding our knowledge due to demands placed on our industry for certifications and insurance,” he says. “We now work more closely with other allied professionals, and there’s been increased interest in functional training.
Even though 2009 has been a tough year economically, Canadians are still willing to invest in fitness, as these days it is viewed more and more as a necessity, not a luxury. So says Peter Twist, MSc, president and chief executive officer of Twist Sport Conditioning, based in North Vancouver. Even the government is involved, setting a goal of increasing the physical activity level of Canadians 10% by next year and giving tax credits to parents who invest in their children’s physical activities and sports.
The St. Paul Jewish Community Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, offers its members B.L.A.S.T. (body locomotion and strength training). According to the online schedule, the intermediate-to-advanced workout is a combination of low-impact cardio and strength training. The facility challenges its members and guests to “have fun exploring some nontraditional exercises that challenge your strength, balance and dexterity.” The St. Paul JCC also offers Logrolling throughout the year.
The most popular fitness classes in Israel are body conditioning, core training, stability ball, yoga, step and dance-based formats, notes Yoav Avidar, international fitness presenter from Tel Aviv, Israel, who has been working in the fitness industry for 12 years. “In general, and especially during these days of economic hardship, popular equipment-based classes are ones that use the equipment the club has!” he says. “Clubs and studios are very hesitant to buy new equipment, especially if it’s relatively expensive.
Even in these tough economic times there is still a lot of optimism and opportunity in the Japanese fitness industry. “2009 is very tough financially for commercial fitness facilities, but I think that people will become even more conscious of their health, especially the benefits of exercise as they relate to stress management,” says Sachiko Tsurumi, president of Japan Fitness Association in Tokyo.
In response to tough economic times, more yoga studios are offering “yoga by donation” classes to help new or ongoing students who are
financially challenged. One New England studio offers 100% of its
schedule on a pay-as-you-can basis. Bob Vaccaro of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, launched Yoga by Donation on January 1, 2009, “to provide quality yoga classes in an exceptional setting to people of all levels of
physical and financial abilities. . . . We have no set or even suggested fees;
all donations can be anonymous, and all are appreciated.”
Chalene Johnson attributes her success in part to her mother. It’s not just the nurturing hand of love that gave Johnson, chief executive officer (CEO) of Powder Blue Productions and creator of Turbo Kick® and PiYo™, a head start in the world of fitness. Johnson’s mother, Marge Melvin, was one of the first Jazzercise® instructors in the state of Michigan.
The French often participate in sports and other nontraditional “fitness” activities without joining a health club, notes Fred Hoffman, MEd, 2007 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, director of International Services for the Club & Spa Synergy Group and fitness consultant for women’s marketing at Reebok France. “Hiking, walking and Nordic walking are popular, and many people ride bicycles,” he says. “Boxing, judo, karate and other martial arts are extremely popular for children, teenagers and young adults.