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.
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.