For those of you lucky enough to attend IDEA World 2012 I ask that you question each other about the direction of the fitness industry. I know the research backing the effectiveness of metabolic/interval/HIIT/boot camp type training programs. I have read the studies promoting the effectiveness of HIIT for even deconditioned people, and yet I ask if this is the path the fitness industry should take.
We talk and talk about the obesity epidemic, but focus on hard and challenging classes. (A quick scan of the IDEA World sessions reveals three times as many hard core type classes as those designed for the less fit. I did not count yoga, pilates or cycling classes). Certainly a few sedentary people may brave (and succeed at) high intensity classes, but we are preaching to the converted. Most of those who love these high intensity workouts do not need us. They would work out on their own. We are missing the huge inactive population, and I believe, turning them off. High intensity may be effective, but it is not going to draw the sedentary into fitness. The beauty of HIIT may be that you can achieve better results in less time, but many in the industry seem to promote it as an excuse to workout harder and harder.
If you are only out to make money then you may not care whether we reach the inactive. However, most of us got into fitness because we love it and want to share it with and help others. We cannot reach the majority by training the minority. I am not saying to give up on HIIT or on training the fit. However, we do not need to spend so much of our time finding new ways to make exercises harder and more complex. The inactive make up the majority of our population. If we work together to find a way to reach them, we will have more clients, and have made a real contribution to the health of our nation.
I completely agree, Janet. My passion is helping the overweight and obese get healthy again through good nutrition and exercise habits and to keep those for a lifetime. HIIT is not a form of exercise that I would recommend to someone who has been sedentary for most of their lives, or at least who have not been active for some time. For those who are overweight, and especially those who are obese, need to start off with lighter forms of exercise in my opinion. When it comes to cardio training, I would recommend starting off with something less strenuous than HIIT such as walking or riding the recumbent bike for cardio. Our clients can build upon this with time and increase their strength and endurance. After doing this for some time, I would recommend trying 1-2 minutes of HIIT once or twice per week and then build upon this as they are more comfortable with exercise.
You are completely right, Janet. It is not the population I am working with either.
But when you think about it: this is why we are here as fitness professional. Take what’s out there and apply what fits.
Imagine how boring the conference would be if we were to attend classes on how to get somebody into a walking program. We as trainers know how to do that. I am celebrating every extra minute that some clients are able to walk.
Clubs follow the principle of supply and demand. If the classes are safe and attract many participants, there will be there to stay. At my club, there is a wide mix and something for everybody.
While I understand your frustration, the bigger picture is that this is driven by the media and our un regulated industry.
Because of the infiltration of high speed Internet, smartphones and instant answers, people are now equating this to fitness. They want fast, powerful, short workouts that promise huge results.
I don’t fault the IDEA Convention for this, they are only responding and providing. I am however dismayed that so many false claims are constantly being fed to our vulnerable society,and that there are no guidelines per se to monitor and regulate fact from fiction.
I agree with Karin.
Take bits and pieces and make them work for you
As long as you remain professional with integrity and within your scope of practice you will succeed .
I agree and disagree on certain points.
1- Agree that people should definitely start out relative to their fitness/skill level. This is the problem with crossfit or personal trainer stories of horror- someone being pushed beyond their limits. Human fitness moves on an increasing curve. The longer you have been working out, the faster you will get results. HIIT, bootcamp and other classes are just that- classes.
Pros- You get a lot of people in a short time = more $
Con- Cant individually meet with people and assess them
2- I would disagree on the people who have come to condition themselves for a high intensity workout. While I would definitely agree that there are others out there who can do this, I would argue that fitness professionals should be able to work with athletes as well. Even people at the Olympic level have coaches.
Because someone can do a HIIT workout doesn’t mean they don’t need our help. We can show them a dozen variants of it or even new forms they have never contemplated.
Most of those who love these high intensity workouts do not need us. They would work out on their own.
I think trainers should always be expanding their knowledge of programs and exercises.
I dont think we are preaching to the converted when it comes to advertising/marketing as well. I would say most trainers are the first to hit weight watchers/ dietitians/ anything to reach the overweight population- but it is the people that are motivated to work with us that usually come to us.
I dont want to lump people all into one clump, but the majority of overweight/ obese people would most likely not want to respond to our ads because training is- well- hard.
Hi Janet. Well said. As a trainer who works with both populations (the highly active – athletes, and the fairly deconditioned) I have to say what I’ve witnessed is that some trainers are so wedded to the high-intensity, complex methodology that they do not distinguish between which clients they use that methodology on. The results? Overweight or otherwise deconditioned clients who struggle with getting through their exercise “program” with the trainer, and/or clients who end-up getting injured or discouraged.
I have to say that I always tell my new clients, particularly those new to exercise and training, that “our” goal in working together is to not only train together to help them achieve their immediate goals, but also to give them the tools to make their foray into exercise a ‘life-long’ endeavor. If I only train and teach them high-exercise which for them is probably unsustainable, and something that they would not, or should not do alone because of the complexity and risk, then am I really giving them the tools they need to sustain exercise over a lifetime? I agree that high-intensity exercise IS NOT for everyone and shouldn’t be used in that way. What I do believe in, and practice, is the fine art or ‘RELATIVITY. So, for a deconditioned client I can give then a ‘relative’ high-intensity set of exercises that in reality are not true high-intensity, but for them represent high effort.
My motto: “Rather than trying to fit the client into the program, fit the program to the client.”