Since this survey was last published in January 2009, the national unemployment rate has increased from 6.1% (August 2008) to 9.6% (October 2010), which equates to about 14.8 million unemployed individuals in the United States (U.S. Department of Labor 2010a). However, the silver lining for fitness professionals is that even though the national job market has declined, our industry is still expected to see better-than-average growth (29%) in positions over the next decade (2008–2018) (U.S. Department of Labor 2010b).
Our work as fitness and wellness professionals can be hugely rewarding. We are there on the frontlines, helping people win back their health from the jaws of obesity and sedentary living. We give loyal participants the joy of those regular exercise sessions they love. And we train some of the fittest people in the country as they strive to break through plateaus and achieve new personal bests.
Many of today’s popular fitness offerings are based on a “go-hard-or-go-home” attitude. And new programs on the market suggest this extreme fitness trend may even be escalating. Some experts in the industry suggest that our current obsession with intensity hearkens all the way back to the early days of fitness. Early fans of the fitness industry relished high-impact aerobics, sometimes barefoot, or pushed to the max in the weight room.newsletter_teaser: Many of today’s popular fitness offerings are based on a “go-hard-or-go-home” attitude. High-intensity formats are attractive and viable, but have we pushed this modality too hard and too far, making it less safe and less effective?
We are already aware of the problem: Too many people are unhealthy—some obese, some with diabetes or hypertension, some who just don’t exercise. And the tricky thing is that it’s not necessarily that people don’t want to become healthy. Often they do, and will try different food plans or exercise strategies. The problem is that these solutions don’t stick and people end up feeling frustrated and alone.
Fitness facilities are in the business of making members healthier, and for some that commitment extends to the environment. The shades of green vary widely. For example, some facilities have done a complete retrofit to include solar water systems and ellipticals that return power to the grid, while others have made more modest changes, such as using nontoxic cleaners and switching to paperless communication with members. Large and small, each step makes a difference in the overall footprint.
Surf around on any of the major social media networks these days—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and especially Instagram—and you’ll likely get an eyeful of fitness selfies: photos of chiseled physiques or people staging “caught in the moment” snapshots of themselves at the gym or just after they’ve finished exercising. Social media’s eye-candy culture has become a perfect platform for fitness pros and enthusiasts to inspire others to get in shape and show off the physical outcomes of exercise with “selfies.”
Does the idea of running a mud race appeal to you? Anyone who signs up for an obstacle challenge—whether for the fun, the teamwork (or, sometimes, the beer!)— will soon confront the substantial physical and mental demands of these races.