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.
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.”