More fitness businesses are offering benefits to part-time employees in 2004 than did in 2002, and full-time employees have maintained benefits levels, according to reports from 517 owners and managers in the 2004 IDEA Compensation Survey. Although there was a surprising drop in the number of companies offering benefits between 2000 and 2002, the numbers in 2004 show a trend toward maintaining and even increasing benefits for employees. And the fitness industry continues to excel at offering free or discounted childcare to workers.

Remember that benefits may be limited by employment status and the employee’s role in the company. Full-time employees are eligible for many benefits, but only 50% of the businesses surveyed had director-level positions, which tend to be the full-time jobs on the fitness staff. Self-employed owners (40%), while full-time, may not pay themselves for benefits such as vacation or sick time.

Insurance companies often will not provide health insurance or other coverage for those working fewer than 32 hours a week. Personal trainers, group instructors, fitness floor staff and even group exercise coordinators frequently do not work that many hours, which eliminates them from access to some benefits. (The exception is business liability insurance, which will cover part-timers.) Independent contractors are not eligible for any benefits.

Fitness Industry Benefits

Full-Time Employee Part-Time Employee

2000 2004 2000 2004

discounts 80% 68% 74% 64%

free or 55 47 53 44 discounted childcare

health insurance 84 70 22 12

liability insurance 82 70 58 45

paid sick time 83 63 17 12

paid vacation time 92 71 23 17

retirement plan 68 51 21 14

Source: IDEA Fitness Industry Salary Survey 2004.
About the Survey

The IDEA Fitness Industry Salary Survey 2004 was conducted in October 2004 and answered by 517 owners and managers of personal training businesses, health clubs and wellness programs in the United States and Canada. Results appeared in May 2005 IDEA Fitness Journal. Complete results with additional information are available through IDEA Professional Education, or (800) 999-4332, ext 7.


Fitness Compared

With Other Businesses

Benefits in fitness are closer to those reported in the U.S. 2004 National Compensation Survey, which collected data from 4,703 companies in private industry. These statistics represent both service and manufacturing companies. The comparisons shown here are for full- and part-time employees, plus smaller companies with 99 or fewer workers.

For childcare, the fitness industry excels at offering free or discounted care options. This is a distinct advantage for those working in health clubs and corporate settings, where childcare is often available.

2004 Fitness and U.S. National Benefits Comparison

Terminology: The IDEA survey asked, “Do you offer these benefits?” and the National Compensation Survey (NCS) reports, “Percent of workers with access to . . .”

Full-Time Employee Part-Time Employee 1-99 Workers


free or 47%4% 44%1% 1% discounted childcare*

health insurance** 7084 1220 58

paid sick time 6370 1224 50

paid vacation time 7190 1735 71

retirement plan 5168 1427 44

*NCS says, “Employer assistance for child care, employer-provided funds.” **NCS says, “Health care benefits, medical care.”

Foot Problems Linked to Obesity

Who hasn’t experienced foot pain at some point in life? According to a survey by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, podiatric problems can be linked to a person’s weight and body mass index (BMI).

The survey asked 6,157 people with a mean age of 34.5 years and average BMI of 27.9 about foot and ankle problems. Statistical analysis found that BMI was higher in those with current foot and ankle pain. In addition, 40.8 percent of the respondents reported weight gain prior to the onset of pain.

Problems varied from person to person, but foot and ankle pain often occurred in weight-bearing areas, tendons and ligaments. Common foot problems included pos-terior tibial tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and hind foot arthritis.

The surgeons gave the following recommendations to help prevent foot problems:

  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and fit your feet properly.
  • Place cushions in your shoes for additional comfort and support.
  • Exercise regularly to lower your BMI and strengthen the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your feet and ankles.
  • Stretch your leg and calf muscles daily.
  • See a physician if you are experiencing persistent foot and ankle problems.

    Survey: Life Expectancy Forecast Looks Dim

Are we living shorter lives? Yes, according to a forecast supported in part by the National Institute on Aging. The prediction—based on the dramatic rise in obesity, especially among young people and minorities—is from a special report in the March 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (2005; 352 [11], 1138–45).

By looking at recently published health statistics and then assuming that all those who were obese acquired the BMI of those at lowest risk of death, the research team calculated how much longer people would live if the obesity problem did not exist. They determined that obesity currently reduces life expectancy by approximately 4–9 months. They also predicted that the rapid rise in obesity among children and teenagers in the past 30 years will be serious enough to offset any improvements in longevity from probable advances in biomedical technology.

“One of the consequences of our prediction is that Social Security does not appear to be in nearly as bad a shape as we think,” said S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The obese may be inadvertently ‘saving’ Social Security, but the obese themselves and the healthcare system that cares for them will pay a very heavy price in terms of higher death rates and escalating healthcare costs.”

The 10 Best and Worst States for Raising a Fit Child

Many parents feel challenged by the prospect of raising a fit and healthy child. Is it easier or harder than average, depending on where you live? spent 5 months studying mandated school fitness and nutrition policies. They also looked at other factors related to healthy lifestyles, including accessible, safe playgrounds; rates of participation in youth sports; and the number of fast-food restaurants.

Here are the 10 best and worst states, according to the analysis:


1. Connecticut

2. New York

3. Vermont

4. Massachusetts

5. Missouri

6. Maine

7. West Virginia

8. Wisconsin

9. Arkansas

10. Illinois


1. Alaska

2. Nebraska

3. Nevada

4. Mississippi

5. Kansas

6. Alabama

7. Idaho

8. Wyoming

9. Iowa

10. Arizona

For more information visit

Which Stretch Is Best for Hamstrings?

Do you have young-adult clients with chronically tight hamstrings? A recent study may offer insight into the best stretching technique to lengthen this muscle group.

The study, which appeared in the February issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2005; 19 [1], 27–32), compared the effectiveness of three common stretching techniques: self-stretching, static stretching, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation incorporating the theory of reciprocal inhibition (PNF-R).

Nineteen young adults between the ages of 21 and 35 participated in a 4-week program. All had tight hamstrings, defined as having a knee extension angle greater than 20 degrees while supine with the hip flexed 90 degrees. Participants were divided into four groups (self-stretching, static stretching, PNF-R and control). Each set received the same stretching dose: a single 30-second stretch 3 days a week for 4 weeks. Researchers measured the subjects’ knee extension angles after 2 weeks and again at the 4-week mark. The conclusion: All three techniques increased hamstring length from baseline, but static stretching produced the best results.

Exercise Beats Metabolic Syndrome in Older Adults

Here’s some great news for older clients who have metabolic syndrome. According to a study in the January issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2005; 28 [1], 9–18), people ages 55–75 who have this condition can reap benefits from a moderate exercise program.

Metabolic syndrome is a clustering of three or more cardiovascular risk factors (high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, excess abdominal fat, abnormal cholesterol levels). Researchers wanted to find out whether the bene- ficial effects of exercise on cardiovascular and metabolic disease were determined by “exercise-induced changes in fitness or body composition.”

The study looked at 51 men and 53 women for a 6-month period between July 1999 and November 2003. The participants had no previous signs of cardiovascular disease beyond mild, untreated hypertension. Half were randomly assigned to a control group and received an instructional booklet that encouraged exercise. The other half took part in a supervised series of exercises for 60 minutes, three times per week. The exercises included working out on a treadmill, bicycle or stepper, in addition to weightlifting.

By the end of the study, participants in the exercising group had no new cases of metabolic syndrome, and the condition had resolved in nine of them, a reduction of 41%. In the control group, eight participants no longer had the syndrome, while four new cases had appeared, resulting in an overall reduction of 18%. Researchers concluded that changes in risk factors were more closely related to reductions in body fat—particularly abdominal fat—and increases in muscle tissue, rather than improvements in fitness.

For a complete look at metabolic syndrome, turn to the CEC feature on page 48 of this issue.

Young Men Who Exercise May Reduce Parkinson’s Risk

By being active in their youth, men may cut their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to a study in the February 22 issue of Neurology (2005; 64 [4], 664–69). To investigate whether greater physical activity might be associated with a lower risk of developing the disease, researchers followed 48,574 men and 77,254 women. Subjects gave information about their teenage and early-adulthood exercise levels. During the follow-up, 252 men and 135 women developed PD.

The results showed either that higher levels of physical activity lowers the risk of PD among men or that men predisposed to the disease tend to avoid exercise as young adults. The study authors said that more research was needed to find out why the same protection was not found for women.

As part of an initiative to help people achieve fit and healthy lifestyles through exercise, Nautilus Inc. will commit $10 million to research and education over the next 5 years.

“Our society embraced a new age of fitness about three decades ago through aerobics, equipment and clubs, but fewer than 1 in 5 people truly benefit from a fit and healthy lifestyle today,” said Tim Hawkins, chief marketing officer for Nautilus. “If we are going to tap into all the benefits that sustainable exercise offers our society, we need to help more people start, improve upon and maintain fitness and exercise patterns for a lifetime.”

The Nautilus Institute advisory board, which includes IDEA Group Fitness Instructors of the Year Jay Blahnik (1996) and Keli Roberts, (2003) as well as IDEA presenter Tom Purvis, will determine the research initiatives. Areas of interest include

  • health and fitness education
  • clinical research in biomechanics and strength training
  • the role of stretching in fitness
  • tips to establish the most effective home fitness center
  • cardiovascular training machines: workouts and benefits
  • strategies to overcome the obesity epidemic

Nautilus Inc. is based in Vancouver, Washington, and its brand portfolio includes Nautilus®, Bowflex®, Schwinn® Fitness, StairMaster® and Trimline®.

Nautilus Forms
Research Institute

10 BestWalking Cities

Walking is many people’s favorite way to exercise. But some places are easier to navigate than others, according to a study by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). The results show that city dwellers are stepping up their walking programs. For the third year in a row, the APMA surveyed 200 of the largest incorporated cities in the U.S., evaluating three pro-walking categories: healthy lifestyles, modes of transportation to and from work, and involvement in fitness and sport activities. Here are the top-10 walker-friendly cities for 2005:

1. Arlington, Virginia: 35% of Arlingtonians walk for exercise.

2. San Francisco: 32% of residents walk for exercise, and 35% buy some type of athletic shoes.

3. Seattle: 35% of residents walk for exercise, and 36% buy some type of athletic shoes.

4. Portland, Oregon: Close to 22% of inhabitants are dog owners (and dogs need to be walked!).

5. Boston: 45% of the population walk to work or take public transportation.

6. Washington, DC: 35% of residents take the bus or subway. When they aren’t working, 11% play sports or walk for fitness.

7. New York City: 51% of New Yorkers use public transportation, and 12% walk to work.

8. Eugene, Oregon: 22% of residents are dog owners, and 8% own baby strollers.

9. Jersey City, New Jersey: 47% of the people who work in this town take public transportation. When they aren’t working, 12% play sports or exercise once a week.

10. Denver: 11% of residents walk for fitness or exercise, and 12% play sports or exercise once a week.

Food and Fitness

According to results from the 2004 IDEA Fitness Program & Equipment Survey, weight management classes, which traditionally feature a lecture on general eating principles, are losing favor to the nutrition assessment, which typically evaluates an individual’s diet. When a person sees what she is eating, awareness and changes in eating patterns may follow. The big issue for fitness professionals: scope of practice.Offer It’s Growing10%20%30%40%50%











Curves® Introduces Certification

With more than 8,400 locations and 4 million members worldwide, Curves International has made a name for itself in the world of fitness center franchises. And things keep getting better. In fact, a recent study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise found that the Curves workout is a “good ‘moderate-intensity’ workout for those who are not very active.” Now, in an effort to educate owners and staff, Curves offers the Cooper Institute Circuit Training and Weight Management Certification.

The certification, designed specifically for Curves, focuses on kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition and weight management. Owners earn the credential by completing these four steps:

1. attending “Curves Club Camp” and securing a certificate

2. completing a college-level course in kinesiology or an equivalent subject, such as anatomy or physiology

3. completing a college-level course in general nutrition

4. applying for the certification and showing proof that steps 1–3 were completed

IDEA member Lynn Gray lives in Pescadero, California, and owns three Curves franchises. A fitness industry veteran of 20-plus years, she is a certified personal fitness trainer and has a bachelor’s degree in physical education. While she says she will not pursue the certification herself, she sees it as a positive move and encourages other franchisees to consider it. “Anything Curves can do to help the owners is beneficial,” she says. “It’s a good idea. They are really making an effort; they are trying to stay ahead of things and update the philosophy. I think the next message should be that fitness is for life.”

Charting Fitness Sessions

If you were to call in sick, would a coworker be able to read your charts and cover your sessions? Can you recall a client’s bench press weight and reps from a year and a half ago? Do you know what the client’s weight and body fat were 3 years ago? Charting is essential for accurately recording workouts.

Doctors, technicians, therapists and nurses chart patients’ office visits by keeping scrupulous notes, which other professionals can easily read and understand. This is an efficient strategy for personal trainers as well. Here is a list of standard abbreviations you may want to use for charting in your own personal training department.

Word Abbreviation

barbell BB or bb

dumbbell DB or db

cable column cc

balance disk disk

treadmill Tm

stair climber Sm

bicycle bike

Airdyne bike dyne

elliptical trainer e-train

stability ball SB

medicine ball m-ball

half cut foam roller 1/2 foam

wide grip WG

neutral grip neu grp

plyometrics plyo

jump rope j rope

speed, agility, quickness SAQ

weight x reps x sets 45x15x3

outstanding job !

fair job eh

not good NG

too easy ez

good gd

weight wt

height h

chest press CP

push-ups off knees mod push

regular push-ups push

pec deck or flye machine flye

triceps extension Tx

close-grip push-ups CG push

shoulder press SP

lateral raise LR

front raise FR

external rotation ER

internal rotation IR

reverse flye rev flye

Word Abbreviation

lunge walk LW

squat Squ

adduction adduct

abduction abd

calf raises calf r

unilateral u

contralateral contra

ipsilateral ips

bilateral bi

workout w/o

max repetition RM

denotes 10 seconds of rest10”r

front (front squat) frt

alternating alt

rotation Rot

modified mod

reverse grip rev grp

one-arm row OAR

bent-over row BO row

reverse-grip pull-down RGPD

front neck pull-down FNPD

pull-ups PU

pull-over PO

biceps curl BC

reverse curl Rev C

hammer curl HC

dead lift dead

Roman chair R ch

prone back extensions p-ext

gluteal ham raise g/h r

high chair H chair

one-legged squat u Squ

leg press machine LP

leg extension Lx

leg curl machine LC

stretching str

dynamic dyn

media morsels

Who says you can’t get anything for free? S&S Worldwide, a supplier of physical education and recreation products, offers a free incentive program to every elementary school and youth organization in the United States.

In the S&S Pledge More Active Play program, participating schools and groups give pledge slips to children and their parents. Families then decide whether the children will pledge to get more exercise. The children return the slips, and schools that send 50 or more pledges to S&S get a free package of recognition, reward and ongoing-program materials. Each package includes pedometers, posters, prizes, follow-up activities, entry in a drawing for free physical education products, a listing in an “Active Players Hall of Fame,” and the secret password to a flash video at, where further information and resources are available.

Who would know better how to write a successful grant than a room full of Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant winners? The following tips were culled from a session during the 2002 American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (AAHPERD) Convention:

  • Begin early, initiate a needs assessment in your area and start developing a proposal strategy.
  • Surround yourself with others interested in program development and positive change.
  • Seek out partnerships, such as with the medical community.
  • Ask yourself what you want to see as a result of the grant. Have a vision.
  • Involve a professional grant writer with a proven track record.

For more information visit

People Are Talking About . . .

. . . a free health club for taxi drivers started by the owner of Chicago Carriage Cab company; . . . health- and fitness-specific podcasts, Web-based audio magazine subscriptions in MP3 format that users listen to on portable music players; . . . “Suicide by Fat—Obesity Revealed,” a feature at the Body Worlds 2 exhibit at the California Science Center in Los Angeles that showed a 300-pound cadaver dissected to reveal the damage fat does to organs; . . . Geoff Weber, who ran 31 miles in 3 hours, 46 minutes and 12 seconds and then walked and jogged another 24 miles in 71⁄2 hours on a Nautilus® treadmill.

—Joy Keller is a senior editor of IDEA Fitness Journal.