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.
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.