I“I want to take [my education] to the next level and do some type of study in fitness,” said the Facebook message from IDEA member Melissa Spraul, a group fitness instructor in Los Angeles. Her passion for fitness is clear from all the workshops and conventions she attends, but she wonders how to go about starting her academic career. “We have a lot of community colleges and universities out here, but I’m a little overwhelmed,” she wrote. “Can you provide any insight?”
Did you ever have to cue audiocassette tapes before teaching aerobics? (You might’ve heard about playing albums in class, but that was before your time.) Were you among the first wave of personal trainers to get certified through an official course? If you answered yes to either or both of these questions—and you joined the fitness industry before or around the time step aerobics became popular—you might be a member of Generation X (also referred to as Gen X). This group, now in their 30s and 40s, has influenced the fitness industry through many permutations.
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.