Recently I received an email discount from IDEA for a national supplement company. While I always appreciate the idea of a ‘discount’, I do find it repugnant the practices of many supplement companies, including this one = GNC. I question the wisdom of Fitness Professional organizations such as IDEA aligning themselves in any way with these entities.
Let me explain what I mean: Each experience I have had with supplement companies or weight loss product companies whether multi level marketing Shackley, Herbalife, Mellaluca, Avocare, It Works etc or GNC or other ‘Sports Nutrition Stores’ like Max Muscle, and the like, has included people working for these companies referencing themselves as being ‘Wellness Coaches’ or ‘Nutrition Consultants’ or even ‘Personal Trainers’ . However, none of the individuals I have met with have degrees in Nutrition, certainly not one is a Licensed Nutritionist or Registered Dietician. Seldom are any holding Nationally Recognized Personal Training or even Group Fitness Certifications (much less to say any degree work in Exercise Science, Physiology, Micro-biology etc) which might be helpful in defining ‘ scope of practice’ and attribute to truly defined evidence based knowledge. Generally there may be some ‘company supplied training’, which is simply how to sell the supplements.
And so with this lack of education, frequently I have observed the direct & outright contradiction of recommendations by Registered Dieticians, and suggestions of items banned by USADA. The highly UNTRAINED workers give ‘well meaning’ but incomplete and non evidence based supplement ill-recommendations. With no education in bio-science related to nutrition I have seen people sick on supplements that are contra-indicated to medications and health issues that they have. I truly question alignment with the supplement industry for several reasons with one of the very interesting points being that often testosterone and several other items that would violate USADA testing are commonly in several products. While these items may not be ‘illegal’ for ‘average people’ (non-athletes) many of the people coming in think they are coming for ‘health’ and are getting ‘accurate advice’. If these supplements are banned by USADA for athletes ( to protect them and their health and to keep clean sports) why would we consider them OK for the general public doing body building, or just trying to be in shape. The business is RIFE with FALSE weight loss products and does nothing to promote the trade of legitimate personal training or group fitness but instead is a multi million dollar industry promoting the quick fix. Those newer to the fitness industry may not be aware of their practices. Buyer beware when the ‘Wellness ‘ word is used.
As Fitness Professionals who may be considered ‘Allied Health Care professionals’ , we do have a responsibility to think beyond the ‘money’ and think in legitimate terms. For those that have visited Colorado recently we know that not all things labeled ‘healing’ or ‘wellness’ or ‘medical’ are actually evidence based as being truly good for people. And just because there is money in an industry, it doesnt make it right or good
American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer
Recognition by IDEA Fitness as Personal Trainer
I find IDEA’s association with GNC completely REPUGNANT. Their products are buyer beware. About the only thing Id look at getting there is gels for endurance or protein powder in a pinch.
Please consider this in your next round of member benefits
Thank you for you listening,
Gale Marchand – ACSM-CPT
You have to realize that nutritional supplements is a big business & GNC is probably the top player these days. I’m not a big supplement advocate to my clients but I do buy my multi-vitamin/mineral supplement there & an occasional protein supplement. I actually appreciate the discount that IDEA offers at GNC – it saves me a few bucks! But if you’re walking in there without a clue, I would advise one not to do that. You have a better chance at winning the lottery vs. finding a Registered Dietitian working at GNC or anyone with a college degree. It’s like anywhere – buyer beware!
Well, if it is GNC who is offering the discount to IDEA members it is somewhat different, I guess. That is not IDEA marketing with GNC, but GNC marketing to IDEA. I agree that I would personally not offer those products to my students for a variety of reasons, but if someone opens a booth at the convention it is then up to the individual attendees to decide what their stand is to be. And there are people with scope of practice that would allow them to recommend such things, and lots of people who use them themselves (and many companies feel even if they are not directly recommending things, if a trainer is using them, others will see and be motivated to try).
The more pragmatic issue is that 20% off would not be a great motivator, even if it were a product I thought worth trying. I worked in retail and I know what the markups are.
I am surprised by what you say about Zumba. The vast majority of the Zumba people I have experienced seem really competent, great teachers. But it is hard to know unless you are directly in an industry what the range of practice is.
These issues are one of the reasons the Yoga Alliance came into being. When I was younger yoga was neither mainstream, nor lucrative, but as it increased in popularity and a profit could be made there was an explosion of trainings. The Alliance provided standards that look both to the traditions of the practice, and to its current usage and set the standard for a teacher training at 200 hours. When I was younger and learning those standards were not yet even thought of, though the yoga teachers I knew all trained as often as they could, in every setting they could. It was a way of being, more than just a job. I think the 200 hours is pretty reasonable. And of course, it worries me to see people offering online only training (good as far as it goes, but the soul of yoga is about connecting and noticing, not just watching and repeating), or 3 day weekend training (good if you want to add a few ideas to your other classes, but that is like becoming a personal trainer after doing a one day workshop), …. sigh….
I guess I do not mind GNC offering the discounts, but I would prefer IDEA not help them market the discounts. As soon as they do it makes it difficult not to think they are in some way giving tacit approval. Or if they are going to do so they should make clear when they do mention the offer to mention in the same place that they take no stand on the selling of these items other than that one should have the appropriate training and credentialing before doing so.
Good discussion of rather complicated issues.
I received the same e-mail today and thought the same thing–I was a bit surprised. I pride myself on not getting into the easy sell fitness trends (supplements, quick fixes, extreme discounts, etc…) because I feel they devalue a wonderful industry. An industry that needs regulation to weed out those whose purpose is solely moneymaking–those who do not wish to help educate and change lives through pure exercise and real, whole food nutrition.
I will stand by my own personal mission (to educate and motivate others to live a healthy lifestyle) and philosophy (hard work and whole foods). That keeps me focused and gives me purpose.
I have gone through ACE personal training and health coaching certifications and have been in the fitness industry for over 20 years. It does bother me when people call themselves personal trainers or “coaches” of all kinds with no education to back it up. I have worked hard, and my experience and certifications are only the beginning for me. I hope the industry moves forward to regulate and weed out those who can call themselves whatever they want without the credit to back themselves up. We’ll see…
In clarification, Ariadne, it is a promotional email to IDEA members for the Convention that at the booth of GNC at the convention IDEA members can get 20% off. Again, not against discounts but I really think about this one.
Similarly we have people excited about fitness who go get a Zumba ‘license’ and advertise they are ‘certified’ . I love the enthusiasm but dislike that they consider themselves certified with no proctored test. Many of these individuals want to convince me ‘oh well you dont need to be certified group fitness to teach Zumba’ and while ‘Zumba corporate doesnt require it’, as a Fitness Manager, I and my colleagues do and it is industry standard.
Without any industry having certifications or other was to provide the ‘scope of practice’ then it is all up to anyone’s opinion and who looses is every consumer and citizen : buyer beware.
Sure, do I as an ACSM trainer have a degree in nutrition? no. However I did bother to take the toughest test I could find for becoming a certified personal trainer, and I know my scope of practice.
Making a living is all fine, but ends of a cash box do not justify the means. Ever.
(Thump! – – – – sound of my soap box as I have stepped off and left the rest to discussion of others.. )
I completely totally agree with you. I did not know IDEA was doing this, and am completely against it. But part of the problem is that there is money to be made offering nutritional guidance, and as there are many people in fitness, and they look for ways to expand their business many look to get into nutritional services. Not everyone wants to take a degree in nutrition, so many other programs have sprung up to give some training that can be done without that level of expertise. This can be fine, as long as those who use those programs are scrupulous with scope of practice.
I think we always have to remind ourselves that profit is not bad, but choosing profit over truth and honor is.