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.
What a great post.
HIIT isn’t the walking, talking, singing, dancing, one-size-fits-all perfect workout for everyone. There is no such thing.
I agree that there is too much emphasis on workouts with apocalyptic titles.
What I have done to help bridge the gap between beginners and advanced participants in my HIIT classes is:
1) Design my own formats. I’m not a fan of cookie cutter programs that force a set of movements onto a class with few, if any, options.
2) Provide movements that have multiple intensity / impact levels. This way, I can accommodate a wider variety of fitness levels.
3) Hold short orientations before and after class for new participants to help them understand how to monitor their own intensity levels and how to modify for their injuries.
4) Encourage participants to engage in other fitness and wellness activities, particularly dance, weight training and yoga.