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 do not mean to diss IDEA at all; I am very proud to be a charter member of the organization. I just feel World IDEA is a great place to discuss this. I do know IDEA has had several programs to target the inactive and believe they will continue to do so.
Karin, I do not feel the presentations should be on walking programs, but I do believe the focus should be more on how to reach the inactive and what to do with them. We need to know how to market and advertise to them. How can we reach them? We are certainly not doing a good job of it. Once we get them what should we do? A studio without mirrors? Dedicated classes for the sedentary? A buddy system? Boot camps light? What do we do with the diabetic client who comes to Tabata? The person with osteoporosis in yoga or pilates? The person with bad knees whose doctors says “not to squat”? I do not have the answers, but believe together as an industry we can do more. We need to ask the right questions, and work together to find the answers.