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.
Thanks for posting your plea.
I believe the only way to address this dilemma is through education. Whether the individual is obese or not, if they are chronically inactive HIIT is not the best approach.
I feel very strongly that for the most part fitness professionals don’t know how to effectively utilize the transtheoretical stages of change model with their clients.
I am of the opinion that any exercise program designed for the chronically deconditioned individual will not be successful if the personal trainer has not determined how confident, ready and committed the client is to change their behavior.
I believe this is what has to be addressed at the convention, however, it is not what the paying fitness community really wants.
All I can do is my part, however, we are on the same page.
Thanks again for your post.
I completely agree Janet.
I see the issue from two perspectives.
The deconditioned, obese, sedentary client has seen shows like the Biggest Loser, My Weight Loss Story, etc and comes to the personal trainer expecting those types of sessions and “immediate” results. They want quick results and quick answers. They’ve often tried several different diets or programs, only to be disappointed and disalusioned with their results. They struggle with multiple issues that don’t all stem from their weight/diet and require a team approach as many of these issues are outside of the scope of practice of a personal trainer.
Then you have the personal trainer and fitness industry who is trying to continue to gain clients in a tough economy. Its much easier to get a person who’s already exercising into a program or new class than it is someone who is new to exercise and skeptical that “this will work” when so many things may have failed them in the past. Money talks! That doesn’t make it right.
I think things will change when trainers work together with other health professionals to enhance the overall health of the client. When personal trainers are viewed as professionals by others in the healthcare industry (education, certification and regulation may need to change to make this happen). When there is a focus on preventative health rather than treating the symptoms.
I try to focus on what I can control. I partner with healthcare professionals in a dialogue about the clients care. I look to them for answers and I offer programs when they see a need. I stay educated and I tailor my programs to the clients. I don’t seek to have lifelong clients. I seek to educate them to be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle for themselves.
Great post! I enjoyed reading all the answers!
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.
I hear what you say Janet, I have pondered this for myself. What I have finally come to resolve for myself is that we need to keep the fit fit. So that if high intensity classes attract a certain population so be it, this is a win for them and therefore a win for our society.
As long as we keep the fit fit we stop, halt or slow the risk factors for disease. This is where as a society we want to focus our efforts. Bringing the unfit back to some level of fitness is certainly important, or lowering risk factors is invaluable to the individual and society, but preventing disease and keeping the fit risk free is just as viable, and promotes emotional, financial, and social strength.