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.