I have been involved in the health and fitness industry since it was fashionable to wear your G-string over your leggings. When the closest thing to compression tights was legwarmers and your post exercise protein shake was a homemade egg flip! How things have changed. So the question I pose, ‘is the Fitness Industry the new Scientology”?
It has been at least 6 years since I attended a Health and Fitness Expo and when I used to attend my purpose was for education, as knowledge was power right? Well, well, well on the weekend I stepped back into the Health and Fitness Expo but this time not as a single ‘jock” but a father of three, an aging Exercise Physiologist. As I walked around the expo I couldn’t help but be distracted by the music, the bodies, the supplements the ‘cult’ like following that these new trends / brands were having on the industry. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until I stopped to watch a dozen ladies on stage with hardened, ripped, brown buffed physics in sequin bikinis flexing, smiling and not breathing when my 6 year old daughter said, ‘What’s that Dad, that’s weird”. It was after that statement that I look around and started to reflect on the industry as it continues to evolve year on year.
No longer do people have the intrinsic motivation to go to the gym alone, do a workout and stay committed. These days people are spoilt by choice, there are 24 hours gyms on every second corner, PT studios popping up like hair salons and group exercise franchises that have a cult like following. So I begin to question…is it functional training or is it fad training that the consumers are after? After all if there was a secret pill there would be no expo let alone a billion dollar industry!
The industry preaches the importance of clean eating, and the benefits of eating green but the expo was full of enough supplement companies to sink the Titanic. Throughout my four years of study (many years ago) we were taught about exercise prescription and guidelines, safety, and the science behind the human body, biomechanics, exercise physiology, sport and training. These days it is a 6 week course a anatomy colouring book and little bit of industry experience and away you go, you are qualified! Technology and social media has drastically changed the industry and created ‘celebrity trainers’ or ‘aspirational athletes’ because they have hot bodies, big boobs or buffed biceps that thrive on how many likes they get and the number of followers they have.
Unfortunately knowledge is no longer power, the consumer is brain washed by visuals not verbals. It is no longer about what you have done, what you have achieved, whom you have worked with and the qualifications behind your name. It is the number of Insta followers you have or how many reps you can do in a minute that builds street cred in this industry. I understand that I need to move with the times and I’m happy to adjust my business model after 20 years however has the expansion in the popularity of the Fitness Industry through social media had a positive impact on the obesity epidemic of our nation? Are we losing site of the science behind training and the importance of exercise prescription tailored to the specifics clients needs, demands and capabilities?
Things that come and go continually tarnish the industry and I witnessed this again on the weekend. Sure there were some quality products and advancements in equipment that benefit the consumer. However, will ‘fads’ replace traditional functional training where it should be ‘time under tension’, not ‘time on task’? Will eating real foods from the paddock to the plate ever return rather than making sure the foods we eat just looks good for the Insta photo regardless of how it tastes and it’s nutritional value #foodporn.
Albert Einstein said, ‘The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself a place no one has been before”.
So where do you fit in?
Is your fitness family a “fad” or “functional” a “cult” or a ‘religion” a “service” or a “provider”.
Are you following the crowd…