Every year I attend the IHRSA trade show. I am at the same time excited and yet scared for the industry I love. On one end I see manufacturers creating entertainment features for members to engage more in their exercise routines. I see vendors with creative resistance and movement tools to assist in increasing ROM for clients. On the other hand, I see programming that does not promote scientific principles or flies in the face of it, all the while promising clubs they will attract members and make money. I see vendors more interested in making a sale than selling something that actually might get club members results. I see supplements and services being sold that promise weight loss, not through proper nutrition or exercise, but instead through questionable supplementation.
So it begs the question: when will the industry grow up, find a unifying voice, and speak out against these idiotic concepts? For example, recently The Biggest Loser has drawn criticism for the amount of weight loss their winner experienced. Rachel Frederickson lost 59.62 percent of her initial weight within five months. In any health club, most trainers would get help for their client for a eating disorder, yet I have yet to hear one leading fitness certification, health club organization or personal training certification come out with a statement that condemns that type of weight loss. Also, I see no unified voice for science that comes out and calls out these infomercial weight loss and exercise programs for harmful training programs and unscientific nutritional programming.
Now believe me when I say I begrudge no one from making a living and selling their product, but when their product becomes more detrimental than beneficial, I believe that the fitness industry needs to take a stand or we all may suffer the consequences. We in the industry fail to see that when someone in our business puts out a product or service like this, it reflects on all of us. A member may look for the idiotic product in another club when they travel. A new client tells their new trainer that their old trainer insisted they did only cardio to lose weight. A new exerciser takes a CrossFit class one time and hurts themselves, because they were not ready for a class like that, yet no one stopped them from participating. I can go on and on for hours about anecdotal incidents that illustrate the point. But the fact is it makes our industry look like a group of money-hungry morons that latch onto the latest fad. When in fact I believe we are the opposite, an industry that looks to make mankind better through engaging in a fundamental human need: exercise.
Vic Spatola is the Director of Personal Training for Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Greenwood Village, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.