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.
What a great post.
HIIT isn’t the walking, talking, singing, dancing, one-size-fits-all perfect workout for everyone. There is no such thing.
I agree that there is too much emphasis on workouts with apocalyptic titles.
What I have done to help bridge the gap between beginners and advanced participants in my HIIT classes is:
1) Design my own formats. I’m not a fan of cookie cutter programs that force a set of movements onto a class with few, if any, options.
2) Provide movements that have multiple intensity / impact levels. This way, I can accommodate a wider variety of fitness levels.
3) Hold short orientations before and after class for new participants to help them understand how to monitor their own intensity levels and how to modify for their injuries.
4) Encourage participants to engage in other fitness and wellness activities, particularly dance, weight training and yoga.
I never thought anyone would notice the void you mentioned.
You are on target: most training is focused on hard, intense, make you sweat, ‘no pain no gain’ programs.
The problem is-what if you haven’t reached the level to do this yet? Maybe you are a beginner. Maybe you are at the intermediate level.
Do you really think you can jump into the XXX high intensity crew?
Would you go from 1st to 3rd gear in your car?
We do overlook a lot of people with this high intensity manta. I hope we can
focus on how to help those who aren’t superhuman to reach their goals.
WOW! (excuse my enthusiasm)
The majority of my clients are deconditioned older adults with various hip,knee, shoulder, back etc… problems. Trying to plug them into a one size fits all high intensity program simply doesn’t work. I am constantly modifying exercsies, usually on the fly, to avoid painful ROM and to correct imbalances.
What is most important is how hard the client feels the workout is. It needs to be challenging enough that they see the value in the sessions they pay for but not so difficult that they leave discouraged and feeling beat up.
I mostly work my clients within their Rate of Perceived Exertion and constantly have them rate the difficulty so I can adjust up or down. This way they can feel successful and invigorated when they leave and anxious to come again as they gain confidence in what their body can do.
Personally I feel this type of client need our services more because they need the push to propel them past their comfort zone. And I feel that in this way I am providing a real value, not just trading time for dollars.
I hear what you say Janet, I have pondered this for myself. What I have finally come to resolve for myself is that we need to keep the fit fit. So that if high intensity classes attract a certain population so be it, this is a win for them and therefore a win for our society.
As long as we keep the fit fit we stop, halt or slow the risk factors for disease. This is where as a society we want to focus our efforts. Bringing the unfit back to some level of fitness is certainly important, or lowering risk factors is invaluable to the individual and society, but preventing disease and keeping the fit risk free is just as viable, and promotes emotional, financial, and social strength.
You are spot on! The emphasis in the industry today tends to be focused on the ’30 minute, go-go-go, see how fast you can exhaust’ workout. The majority of my clients are over 40 and, the older the client, the less likely they want to do the “PX90/boot camp” style training. What trainers need to realize is that baby boomers have different goals from the 20/30 year old. They generally are not looking to bench 200# or run a ‘Warrior Dash’ or look like someone on the cover of a magazine. What the over 40 crowd usually wants is more energy at work, be able to enjoy their kids and grandkids and, for their leisure activities, be it tennis, gardening or golf, wake up the next day feeling like they could go another round…or two. With the proper training model, older adults can become very fit. They can eventually be put in the position to tackle boot camps or PX90 if that is a goal. Baby boomers are our largest growth market. Adjusting your approach will grow your business.
An underlying issue is how does the industry teach trainers (who have probably been in shape since before high school) the proper approach toward a 50 year old who is starting over after a 10-30 year layoff? I bring up that point because I started my career after the age of 50. I’m now 63.