Thoughts On The State Of The Fitness Industry

by Chris on October 29, 2010

There are a lot of great things about the health and fitness industry. Obviously, I enjoy being a part of it, otherwise I wouldn’t be. I am always meeting and networking with other fitness professionals or enthusiasts who love to help other people get healthier and stronger. Like most people though, I have a bunch of issues with some of the things that take place in this industry. Since I like pretending that anyone cares about my opinion, here are a few:

Certifications – Everytime I turn around there is a new certification being offered for something. I don’t even know how many personal training certifications are out there at this point, but suffice it to say there are a lot. That’s not counting specialty certifications like kettlebells, nutrition, corrective exercise, etc.

Here’s the problem: there is often too much emphasis on certification. What is a certification really? All a certification does is verify that someone has met the minimum requirement to be certified. A certification doesn’t make you a good trainer. I have seen lots of certified trainers who don’t know shit. Now does that mean a certification means nothing? Absolutely not. Having a quality certification shows that someone cared enough to pursue proper education, makes a good impression and shows that the person has at least some basic knowledge. I am a proudly certified trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine, widely considered the gold standard in PT certification. Does that make me a good trainer? No, constantly pursuing new knowledge makes me a good trainer. So for those of you out there who are in the market for a trainer, here are some tips: ask about the trainer’s experience and what they have done to further their education since getting certified. I know too many trainers who get certified and then decide they don’t need to learn anything new, or they only learn about what’s trendy. Certification is only the beginning. I’m sick of people arguing over which is the “best”.

While I’m on the subject of certification, I’m sick of kettlebell instructors complaining about trainers who use kettlebells without being kettlebell “certified”. I can almost feel the hate mail coming my direction already, but hear me out.

I am not saying trainers shouldn’t pursue the education to use a KB properly. That goes without saying. However, a kettlebell is only a tool, and as an educated trainer, it is entirely within their purview to use kettlebells if they can use the exercises correctly. Here’s a thought: maybe more trainers would get kettlebell certified if some of the damn workshops didn’t cost 2-freakin-grand. Stop telling trainers they shouldn’t be using kettlebells unless they attend a weekend workshop on how to use them. That’s like saying you shouldn’t even think about using Olympic lifts or their progressions if you aren’t USAW certified. Or the TRX if you aren’t certified on that. Get over it. Competence is key. If a non-RKC trainer can effectively and safely use kettlebells, then they by all means should.

Whose Program Is Best? – This is another one that really gets me. I understand everyone wants to have the business edge, but let’s squash this right now: there is no perfect program. Some work better than others, some don’t, but most work fine. Enough is enough. I don’t care if you use Westside, 5/3/1, Strongman, EDT, Crossfit, Biofeedback and Gym Movement or whatever else is out there. Obviously all these programs are out there for a reason: someone, somewhere has gotten results from them. What program is best? The one that you will be able to stick to and gets you results. The infighting and trash talking by some coaches is disgusting and embarrassing. Sometimes some of you remind me of children: “Mine is better!” “No, MINE is better!” Get over yourselves and start focusing on what is going to make your clients better.

Some people respond better to different programs. Some people like to workout until they throw up (though I will never understand why). Some people like kettlebells; some like powerlifting; some want to run a marathon. It’s our job as trainers to focus on the clients’ goals, not what we think our clients’ goals should be.

Contemporary Diet Advice – This is a good one. Show me 20 trainers and I will show you a host of differing opinions on proper nutrition. Some of the stuff that’s really trendy now is paleo or primal nutrition, intermittent fasting and low carb eating. This is the same as the training program nonsense. What works best? They one you’ll stick to consistently and will work for you. And it’s the same with the trash talking, too. Some people are so critical of the way others eat, or differing diet philosophies that it’s ridiculous. This stuff almost gets cult-like sometimes. I’m not going to speculate on what works better than something else, but I will say this: someone comes out with a few books on how to eat, it’s different from the norm and all of a sudden it’s the best thing out there. Throw some basic logic and maybe a few studies and some research to back it up and people will lose their damn minds over it. Now all of a sudden everyone who doesn’t eat the way they do is unhealthy and knows nothing and that person is an “expert”. I’m not criticizing any particular group here, just saying what needs to be said. And stop trying to push organic, grass-fed, free range, all natural whatever on us. Some people can’t afford to buy that stuff. I don’t want to hear about how you can “spend now on food, or spend later on the doctor” either. Some people can barely afford their food bills now as is, stop telling them they need to be buying “better” food that costs twice as much.

People Who Are Controversial Solely To Be Controversial – Hopefully nobody spots the irony here, but either way… Too many people now want to gain the edge over their competition by coming out with “information” that is controversial to that end alone. Usually based on shaky evidence, if any at all, this is the worst kind of advice. There is nothing wrong with controversial information; a healthy dose of it is necessary to shake things up once in a while. This becomes a hazard when people say things just so they can get publicity out of it. I would lump in with this anyone who proclaims the “death” of anything. I’ve seen this a few times and I am not a fan of it. Sometimes there are modalities and methods that truly do need to meet their maker. That’s fine. The problem here is most of those things never truly die. Why? Because there will always be someone who finds them useful for something. And as long as someone can get results from it, it will stick around. Go ahead and voice your opinion on why something is ineffective. A well-formulated argument is the best form of campaigning. Just don’t proclaim that your observation will be the final nail in the coffin of something. I don’t mean to single out these people, they just fit the mold. Pushing boundaries for the sake of pushing boundaries usually yields junk. Usually. Obviously there are exceptions, but that’s neither here nor there.

What about you? I want to get some feedback here. What are some things about the fitness industry that bother you?

Comment below and share this with your friends.

{ 1 comment }

Kira October 29, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Hey dude,

Always good to hear your opinions on fitness!

The problems you raise are definitely legitimate reasons to be concerned about the industry. But I think the key problem is much deeper …

I recently heard a dude throw the following quote around … 90%+ of all people who start any form of exercise or diet program will be no better off (or maybe even worse off) after 3 years.

Now if that statement is even remotely close to the truth (and I think it is), then the industry needs to get back to basics!

‘How do we help ordinary people develop life-long fitness’.


{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: