Hmm, Joanne, maybe I have around a very select crowd for the last years but I am already seeing this shift. Baby boomers are storming the health clubs, and while they also want to look good, most of them have aging parents and thus witness or witnessed the decline and poor health firsthand. The motivation I see in many is to age successfully so that the golden years can be filled with vitality and enjoyment.
Yes, there is the quest for the ‘body beautiful’. And why not? Who does not want to look good? I find it very easy to talk to people about health even if there initial thought may have been vanity.
Like Karin I do not get many of the body beautiful types. I suppose it is partly what and how I teach, but I think she is right that there are currents moving us in this direction already.
I actually do not think wanting to look good is a problem, and is pretty normal. It just needs to be balanced with an understanding of overall health consequences of our movement and nutritional choices. And I would go a step further and say that we need to be encouraging our clients to understand that their physical self is only part of their multidimensional being, and that health needs us to explore ourselves along many avenues.
I agree with Karin and Ariadne. This is a question that cannot be answered or analyzed in one or two paragraphs.
Most of my clients are not interested in how they look but mostly how fitness can help them survive in their daily routines. My clients are mostly military and law enforcement personnel, so this makes my job easy ;-). But, I also have clients who even though they did start training with me with the expectations of looking better, they very quickly realized of their abilities and capabilities as humans and slowly they turned focus into how far their body can go. Their goals changed over the course of their training and they shifted their attention form looking good into what they can achieve if they really try. There is nothing wrong with taking in clients who just want to look good. Everyone is different and they have their own reasons as to why they want to get involved with fitness (and/or hire a trainer).
We live in a society where false advertisement and expectations are ruling the market and unfortunately we also have to be part of that world. The only thing I can control (and that’s not always the case) is how I can connect with my clients and to stay true to my philosophy and beliefs. No matter what we say here and/or try to change the world, that won’t happen. Unfortunately most people are driven by money and we are not different. If someone comes to me and says I want to look good, I will not turn him/her down. But instead I’ll do my best to deliver what the clients wants and then use that opportunity to pass along my philosophy about fitness and how I can help them achieve goals more important than just “looking good” (if they are open to it).
Each one of us comes from a different background and experiences that transform our philosophies. These factors come into play when we put ourselves out there and the types of clients we are seeking to train (no matter what kind of advertising and marketing is out there).
Thanks everyone for your responses.
While I agree with you all. I am seeking to learn your perspective about how WE as fitness professionals think as opposed to how the CONSUMER things.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to use the principles of exercise in order to achieve what is perceived as the “body beautiful.
I am seeking to learn your perspective as to “what do you think is needed in order to CREATE A SHIFT IN THINKING AMONG FITNESS PROFESSIONALS so that the focus is less on the body beautiful and more on health?
Please excuse the caps. I am not yelling. 8))) I am simply attempting to emphasize the focus of the question.
Thank you in advance.
The problem is not with the fitness professionals. The majority of us know and understand the benefits of exercise and fitness in general. We also understand the effects of bad choices and I truly believe that the majority of us try to pass this kind of thinking and attitude to our clients. The problem is everything else around us. There is a whole industry of advertisement, sponsors, media, beauty and supplement products/industries that work “against” us and that is where we need to focus our attention if we want to change the current situation. Everything around us promote the perfect body which has created the current situation which is a quick “fix”. Humans are for the most part visual creatures. We judge and believe what we can see. The younger generations are bombarded with these type of images (beautiful body, perfect body, etc.) and they don’t bother to investigate any further. So, most of us have to work against this behavior and way of thinking. Everyone worries about their weight and they don’t know that weight is not the only factor to considerate when it comes to your fitness, healthy and functional level (and I’m sure we all agree on this).
Below is my philosophy and it’s how I live my life and also the way I approach and train my clients:
“At SophoFit, we believe in actual fitness, rather than the appearance of fitness. Actual fitness is the only outcome worthy of the intense training our clients commit to and endure, and it is the only path to better health of mind, body and spirit. Wisdom is only attainable when one puts knowledge to use. Our name reflects our commitment to gaining as much knowledge as possible on sound fitness principles and sharing it with our clients so they too can train wisely.”
There is a lot more in fitness than just looking good. But like I’ve mentioned before, I use my time with my clients to help them understand that and at the same time to show them a more healthy way of living. My goal is to help them understand that it’s a lifetime commitment and not just a brief moment of gratification. But, I agree with you that the change must come from us and it can only be done one person at a time :-).