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Fitness For Everyone

I am a C6 tetraplegic paralyzed from the midchest down due to a car accident in 1995. Outside of physical therapy, I had never really thought about fitness very much until I gained a lot of weight after I had my two children (in 2003 and 2005). I went to our local YMCA to see if there was anything I could do to work out, lose weight and get myself back into physi- cal shape. I tried Zumba® and fell in love with the music and the fact that I was moving my body and having fun. Before I knew it, I was losing weight and gaining confidence, endurance and strength. Some of my Zumba instructor friends encouraged me to get certified because they thought I was pretty good at it.

I found two other Zumba instructors who are wheelchair users. I connected with these two wonderful ladies and decided to become an instructor. My Zumba career is amazing! I teach people with disabilities who use wheelchairs, people with autism, people who are deaf or hard of hearing and people who have Down syndrome. I’ve seen the changes in my students. Their confidence levels are higher, and their strength, endurance, balance, range of motion and coordination have improved. For me, Zumba is the most inclusive, fun and engaging fitness program that benefits people of all abilities. I am thankful for it, as it has changed my life!

Monique Stamps Matthews,
North Carolina

Feedback: 2013 IDEA Fitness Industry Compensation Trends Report

Group Exercise Coordinator Title Is Dated

I always enjoy reading the IDEA Fitness Industry Compensation Trends Report [September], but I hope you will update the title for the position of “group exercise coordinator” to “group exercise director” in your next survey. The title “coordinator” is almost as dated as the old “aerobics coordinator” of years past.

The past 5–10 years have seen a more professional branding of this position— and for good reason. The job has gone beyond just having someone in charge of the “phone tree” to find subs. These days, directors are providing program analytics for senior management; spearheading new programming; hiring, training and evaluating staff; managing six-figure payroll budgets; providing amazing customer service to members; maintaining and operating sophisticated sound equipment; and often acting as manager-on-duty. Also, directors often play a large role in public relations and working with the media; they also are social media experts. As mentor, coach and counselor, they manage all the different personalities on their team while presenting a professional and smiling face to the public. And, of course, they are professional fitness instructors themselves. They do so much more than “coordinate.” The title of “group fitness director” more accurately depicts the level of professionalism and skill required to manage all of the moving parts of a successful group exercise program.

Teri Bothwell
Corporate Director of Group Fitness, Sport & Health
Alexandria, Virginia

Shrinking Wages: Is the Writing on the Wall for Personal Trainers?

This year marks my final certification renewal as a personal trainer. The writing is on the wall: According to the 2013 IDEA Fitness Industry Compensation Trends Report, “The number of industry jobs is projected to grow dramatically through 2020, but compensation and benefits are either stagnant or shrinking.” I’ve been a trainer for 13 years and witnessed the downward pressure on training rates, in what both clients and clubs are paying. The cause and effect are no surprise. The market is flooded with trainers, and salaries are decreasing. One bright spot, you might suppose, is that clubs are clearly profiting from the surplus of trainers by charging members more while paying trainers less (the split is in the neighborhood of 70–30).

What was once a business that allowed me to live in San Francisco, buy health insurance and contribute to my retirement, has become a race to the bottom with trainers vying for anything they can get. Entry into personal training is easy and cheap, and potential clients don’t know their NASMs, ACEs or ACSMs from their ACLUs. In 13 years, I can count on one hand the number of times a client has inquired about my certification.

In summary, let me just say that it’s difficult to have one’s livelihood and lifelong passion succumb to the profit motives of the industry. When I became a trainer, I always said that there was enough [business] to go around for everyone. But clearly “enough” is not what it’s all about any longer.

John Milovich
Personal Trainer
San Francisco

Programming for Heart Health

Editor’s Note: Our September “Question of the Month” in the Mind-Body-Spirit News section asked readers if they had successfully developed classes or workshops promoting heart health. This reader shares her ideas.

I work at a continuing-care retirement community where I coordinate fitness and wellness programming for the 300 residents. I teach yoga, tai chi, Pilates, and breathing and meditation classes. I also lead monthly lectures. In February, the lecture topic is usually “Exercising With Heart Disease.” The classes and lectures are very well received, with about 20 participants. I am lucky because I have a captive audience. The only marketing I have to do is in the weekly and monthly newsletters published by the activities and resident services departments.

Katherine McDonnell
Fitness Coordinator
Sun City West, Arizona

More About Exercise and Autism

After reading “Exercise and the Autism Population” by Eric Chessen, MS [Ex Rx, September 2013], I wanted to add a few ideas that have worked for me as a retired physical education teacher and personal trainer. The first thing I do is talk to the parents and ask what the autistic client likes and dislikes; I also find out what is the best way to communicate with the client. For many autistic children, I have found that repetition, familiarity and pictures work better than words. If the child likes animals, I draw pictures on cards of animals performing an exercise. Examples:

  1. Goat standing on a mountain peak (child stands on a BOSU® Balance Trainer).
  2. Starfish (jumping jacks).
  3. Fat cat in sumo wrestler’s garb (squats).
  4. Turtle on its back (dying bug). If a child likes a particular song, I have the song playing while the child is exercising. For many autistic clients, the noise and confusion in a gym atmosphere can be very disturbing, so finding a place with less stimulation might be more suitable.

Susan Tracey
Author of
Fun Fitness Training for Kids
Cape May, New Jersey

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