Your article on corporate fitness (“Trends in Corporate Fitness,” June 2004, pp. 56–64) was very timely and included many examples of companies with successful programming efforts. However, the struggle to maintain programming is a challenge in many workplace environments. Often, employee participation by certain segments of the workforce is low or even nonexistent.
For example, we know that the industrial workplace poses many challenges for health promotion initiatives. The issue begins with the term corporate fitness. In an industrial environment, the word corporate denotes white-collar workers, while plant means people in blue-collar jobs. Using the word fitness implies exercise only. These perceptions can exacerbate the “us and them” division between workers that is prevalent in manufacturing and other industries. For this reason, many of us prefer using the term workplace health promotion, since it comprises all aspects of lifestyle behaviors related to health and fitness.
It is imperative that we remain inclusive of all types of occupations within a corporate setting and are able to address the needs of high-, moderate- and low-risk groups. Many people do not wish to participate in group fitness or personal fitness training at their workplaces. Innovative ways of providing information and support for lifestyle change may provide encouragement for those reticent employees. Corporate fitness has a greater chance of success (thereby creating greater job security for health educators and fitness professionals) if we learn about the various populations within companies, then strive to develop comprehensive, quantifiable programs that will continue to justify their existence through cost-saving measures, thus maintaining support by management.
University of Wisconsin–Madison
I read the letter from Ken Alan (“PFTs Can Learn From Group Exercise,” Fitness Forum, July–August 2004, p. 6) with great interest. I am an ACE-certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor who began in personal training and slowly moved into the group exercise arena. I think my shift into group exercise has made me a better PFT and really expanded my knowledge base. I teach just about every format and have incorporated bits and pieces from each into my clients’ programs. It makes for a much more interesting workout and allows me to really customize programs and meet individual client needs. Teaching group exercise has also allowed me to perfect my breakdown and communication skills. It has made me a better teacher/educator.
It was a challenge for me to go into group exercise. It took a while to get with the music—I’m still not a “choreography queen.” My classes appreciate the learning curve I had to endure and they’ve made it fun. The group dynamic is exciting, and participants are truly appreciative. I have found it to be a great balance.
Group exercise has taken me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to bring fitness to people I might never have had the opportunity to affect. If you’ve got the desire to learn and want to try something different, I would recommend group instruction to any PFT.
Jennifer J. Kline
Personal Fitness Professionals LLC
Group Exercise Coordinator, CopperWynd Resort and Club
I’ve just read Frank A. Brown’s letter in Fitness Forum in the July–August issue of IDEA Fitness Journal (“Small-Town Blues,” p. 6) and have some suggestions as to how he can make a better living as a fitness professional in a small-town market.
I am always shocked at how little some facilities pay their trainers and instructors. As an independent fitness professional for 22 years, I’ve made much more money per class than group instructors do who work in facilities. I started in this field when renting space in a church basement was about the only way to go. I rented in churches, temples and VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars] buildings, but that took advertising dollars, which cut into my profits. For the past 12 years I’ve had a great relationship with a community school and suggest that Mr. Brown look into something similar. If there is a community school (sometimes called an adult school) in his town, he can approach the administration about teaching a specific type of class (make it more defined than just “aerobics”).
My arrangement works like this: I offer a strength and flexibility class; the school lists it in its bulletin, so the advertising is free to me. The listing has my phone number but no price. That prompts anyone interested to call me. When prospective students call, I answer their questions, explain my fees and “sell” the class. I keep my fees low to stay competitive with the community school’s own fee structure. I pay an affordable rent to the school, but that is my only overhead (other than music). Between what I pay in rent and the fees participants pay me for an 8-week session (which runs practically year-round with new registrations), I make between $40 and $60 per class, depending on enrollment. I’ve been doing this for many years, and it has been very successful.
In addition, Mr. Brown can offer to run classes for the recreation department in his town; he can set his own fee as an independent contractor. In any case, he will need liability insurance. I also suggest that he incorporate his business to protect himself.
Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Regarding the “Small-Town Blues” letter, I am a fitness director at a small YMCA, in a town of 3,500 people. I cannot afford to pay what other facilities just 25 miles away are able to pay.
I pay $9–$10.50 per class, depending on qualifications. I pay for all the music, plus other supplies (microphone shield covers and the receiver pack); I pay for all CECs that are mandatory for certification (the YMCA will pay a certain percentage for nonmandatory CECs); and I pay minimum wage and instructors’ mileage. We also offer CPR training at no cost and pay the instructors for their training time. I provide all instructors with a facility membership as long as they are teaching at least four classes a month. Their family members receive memberships as well.
I constantly acknowledge our instructors with small tokens of appreciation, cards and words of thanks. I encourage feedback from instructors and give them opportunities to be creative by offering new classes they have created.
I have never had a complaint.
Fitness Director, Altavista Area YMCA
As a certified Pilates instructor trained by Romana Kryzanowska, the master teacher to whom the late Joseph Pilates entrusted his New York City studio and his method, I have watched with gratification as the core-strengthening exercises devised by Pilates more than 70 years ago have been incorporated into various fitness programs in recent years.
I was pleased to see the IDEA Health & Fitness Source article “Yoga and Pilates for Golf” ( May 2004, pp. 30–38), but dismayed to find that several exercises were mislabeled and/or incorrectly demonstrated:
On page 36: In the Single Leg Stretch, the right hand should be placed on the right ankle, the left hand on the right knee. (This positioning of the hands is important for maintaining alignment of the bent leg). Also, an exercise labeled the “Mermaid” is indicated but not depicted. Instead, a preparation for an advanced exercise called the “Twist” is pictured.
On page 37: An exercise labeled and described as the “Seal” is actually called “Rolling Like a Ball.”
Over the years there have been many modifications and additions to the traditional Pilates mat work, some beneficial and some detrimental. As the method grows in popularity, the chances that it will be diluted or misrepresented increase. Therefore, it is the responsibility of Pilates instructors to achieve the highest level of certification and the responsibility of fitness publications such as yours to carefully research the method before offering instruction in the Pilates method to the public.
Crested Butte, Colorado
The author responds:
Thank you for your feedback and for taking the time to read the article. I admire your desire to keep the purity of the original method of Pilates alive. Consistency with the traditional method continues to be a hot issue in the Pilates world. I, too, have studied with The Pilates Studio, with Sean Gallagher, and can appreciate the pure teachings. I finished my certification at the IM=X studios in New York because I felt their method better fit my needs as an instructor and a physical therapist.
In my experience with patients and a range of personal training clients, many individuals have difficulty with “traditional” exercises because of the amount of spinal flexion they are able to do without pain or because they are limited by their own inflexibility. I completely agree that there is a need for a studio that promotes and executes a very traditional method. However, I also believe there is room for studios that offer modifications of the original method that can allow others to be introduced to the wonders of Pilates through more user-friendly positions. (Just as there is not only one form of yoga, Pilates is a “mode of exercise,” per the 2000 trademark court decision.)
I am cognizant of the “mislabeling” or “diluting” in the article, as my article was not written with the purpose of demonstrating the traditional method. I did use names from other methods (e.g., Seal vs. Rolling Like a Ball) or modified hand positions, but my first priority in doing so in this particular article was safety and effectiveness in describing exercise for golfers. Golf is a sport with largely older-adult participants. While I wanted to show fitness professionals that their clients could be introduced to the benefits of Pilates to improve their enjoyment of golf, the main purpose was to encourage pros to introduce clients to the “mode” of Pilates, not to teach them a traditional series of exercises.
While I respect your desire to keep the purest method of Pilates strong and alive, I hope that you, too, will find there is a place for modified exercises to be safely introduced to those who would find traditional methods too demanding. I have a difficult time imagining that the traditional exercises would not have been modified by Joseph Pilates himself if he were alive today to see the new scientific discoveries in spinal care and the levels of (in)activity in so many Americans!
Catherine Fiscella, MSPT
Jenna A. Bell-Wilson, PhD, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and has a doctorate in exercise science from the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. She is an assistant professor in medical dietetics at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and frequently writes and speaks on nutrition and exercise.