Three Reasons Why I Hate “Fitness”
By Jason Nunn MS, CSCS
In a world full of fast food and high dollar gourmet coffee houses, fitness has become somewhat of a joke, and the major players in the game are doing nothing to help matters. By major players I mean those monstrous facilities with all of their chrome machines, pencil neck trainers, and high pressure sales people. These are the three reasons I hate the term “fitness”:
More and more money is being spent on silly, useless machines. Twenty years ago, the reason people worked out was to accent their already active lifestyles. Now, working out is the only activity most people get. Most people wake up in the morning, sit in their car on the way to work, sit all day at work, and sit in front of the television all evening. The last thing these people need is to do more seated activity. These people need to get up and move! Currently, eighty percent of Americans suffer low back pain. The American Pain Association states that pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer combined. Without getting into the specifics assessment and corrective exercise, I will tell you that this pain that has become almost a way of life for most Americans is due to the type of 21st century living that was mentioned earlier.
The fact is, no matter how you look at it, you get more bang for your buck doing the traditional, feet on the floor exercises. No machine can mimic the amount of stability it takes to walk a heavy squat out of a rack. Likewise, if you’ve ever struggled to lock out a heavy push press, you know that there is no seated shoulder press machine that even comes close to that. Bottom line is, if your goal is to get stronger, build muscle, or lose fat; most machines that are currently being used are a waste of time.
Good machines, ones that most fitness places do buy but rarely get used, are ones that involve multiple planes of motion and having the feet in contact with the floor. These can be purchased by any major manufacturer.
I recently had the laughable experience of visiting one the above mentioned fitness facilities. (Notice I’m not calling them gyms. That would imply that actually training was being done.) As I looked around at the training staff, I witnessed some pretty funny things. I noticed that most of the trainers were sporting skin tight shirts and blond highlighted hair that was gelled into one of those trendy wanna be mohawks. They fit into every stereotype of a personal trainer. They seemed as though they were more concerned with how cool they looked than the validity of the training they were performing. We’ve all witnessed these guys. They are the ones that have no rhyme or reason to the training they are providing, but if you ask them, they’ll tell you it’s “functional”. Another catch phrase I hate. Most of the trainers (I use that term loosely) in these facilities have no idea what the term actually means, or they have no idea of how to implement these exercises into their programs. Generally speaking, these individuals don’t have the type of under the bar experience it takes to put together a well thought out training program. With the advent of the internet, people are being exposed to more information than ever.
The job of the fitness professional is to discern which information is true and which is rubbish. I really question the credibility of anyone who received their personal training certification through the internet. Right now, anyone can log on to the internet, take a test, and become “certified”. I would have a very hard time trusting someone who went on one of these “fitness” websites with one of my loved ones.
There needs to be some sort of accountability for these trainers. Nail technicians and cosmetologists both have to have state licenses to practice their craft. Currently, trainers do not. I am not trying to belittle anyone’s profession here but if these two make a mistake, then the customer’s hair may be a shade off or their nail polish may not match. An uneducated trainer could kill someone! The question I am asking is: Why is there no standard like this for trainers? I guess I’ll just have to take this up with the powers that be personally.
There is nothing more off-putting than a high pressure sales person. If you have a good product, you don’t have to use sleazy tactics to sell it. A person should not have buyer’s remorse for purchasing your product. During the above mentioned health club visit, I was literally cornered in the sales office for twenty minutes while the sales associate and his manager tried to figure out ways to entice me to purchase their membership. In the past ten years, I have done quite well for myself in the fitness industry by not using any of these sales tactics. Like I mentioned earlier, I believe in the product my coworkers and I offer. So, I don’t have to be a used car salesman to sell my product. I simply show them what I can do and my results speak for themselves.
Currently, only fifteen percent of Americans belong to health clubs. Of those, only about twenty percent are actually using their membership. The number one reason most of these people aren’t using their membership is that they didn’t get the results they were trying to achieve. The reason these people feel as though they didn’t get the results they wanted was they told the sales person they wanted to lose weight. But, in reality they are making the huge, intimidating decision to enter this monstrosity of a health club because their life sucks. They probably have a bad sex life. They have no fun. They’re depressed. Their job is terrible. And, their marriage sucks. They want to fix all of that with fitness. So, as soon as they tried fixing all of these problems, the club put then with sleazy sales guy and fake, mohawk trainer guy. The two of them probably gave them the same unrealistic goals the latest AB infomercial did, and sold them their membership and worthless training. No wonder they quit three weeks later because they didn’t get the results they wanted.
The obesity trend in the United States is alarming. There needs to be a serious paradigm shift in the way the fitness industry does business. Right now, those huge health clubs focus solely on volume rather than service. So they get their customer in the door, sign their contract, and forget about them after that. There is no service after the sale. Instead of focusing on volume, if the health clubs focused on providing solutions to their members, they would have a very dramatic impact on the lively hood of most Americans, as well as, the perception of the industry as a whole. I know, you’re probably saying, “But not all people can afford personal training.” My response is this: There are always options. I’m not saying that every person who works out needs a personal trainer. I’m saying that the health clubs and trainers should do a better job of helping their members. These can be things like putting on free monthly seminars on various topics and forming semiprivate training groups. The bottom line is, the Fitness Industry as a whole needs a serious face lift. It needs to reinvent itself by selling solutions, not just equipment and image.
Jason Nunn is a Performance Coach at Next Level Fitness Group in Plainfield, Indiana. He works with a clientele that ranges from high school and elite college level athletes to weekend warriors. Check out their website http://nextlevelfitnessgroup.com
. He can be reached at Jason_nunn@yahoo.com
SOURCES: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Data from the National Health Interview Survey