Often something takes me over a tipping point and years of pent up frustration spill out. The fitness industry in general often has this effect on me!
I was recently was sent a photo by a friend off another fitness facebook page in my town. The photo depicted a person doing bicep curls, standing on a BOSU ball, while wearing ankle weights.
Yes, apparently you can still buy ankle weights. Who knew?
This post apparently caused quite the moral outcry. How could I belittle this trainer? Why was I bullying the trainer? How arrogant of me to say what another fitness trainer was doing was poor training!
Seriously? Shut the fuck up.
Here is an overview of the truth. If you are going to call yourself a professional and step into the public eye as an authority then you better have your big person pants on and be ready for critique. Because that is what the professional world is like and more importantly that is what the professional world SHOULD be like.
Every blog I write, video I post, and social media comment I publish is open for scrutiny. It should be. I am a professional. Like any researcher, doctor, lawyer, nurse, physiotherapist, or banker I must be held accountable and held to a high standard. I have to backup what I preach with physiology, biomechanics, and other pertinent science. Period.
If I can’t support it then I deserve to be ripped apart on it. Period.
The fitness world truthfully, is a disaster. It is an unregulated industry predominantly populated with people who do not have a level of understanding of scientific principles requisite to be allowed to take charge of other human’s HEALTH and LIFE.
That is what it really needs to come down to. Fitness trainers, coaches, and instructors are the front line in the health industry. There is more ability in the health industry to change the population for the better than in any other aspect of health care. Yet it is the wild west of the health care world.
Anyone can call themselves a trainer and start charging people. They then give out workout advice, attempt to heal client’s injuries, and provide nutrition programs. It’s a fucking joke.
It’s a disgrace. It is one of the reasons I have such a hard time building a professional network. How is a doctor or physiotherapist supposed to refer out to a fitness trainer and know that they are releasing their client to someone who is going to be able to help? Or at the very least not do harm?
Because the truth is that the human body is intricately complex. It has been studied for centuries in microscopic detail and we still learn new things everyday! And we still don’t understand everything about how the body works and functions!
Fitness is NOT as simple as doing some exercises and going paleo. IT IS NOT. If you are going to be a fitness professional you must be held to a higher standard of accountability. You must be constantly learning and researching. You must be attending professional conferences and clinics. You must be learning from mentors. You must understand the underlying physiology of EVERYTHING you do and everything you prescribe.
And on that note I will get on the 6 things I think need to change in the fitness industry.
The 6 Biggest Problems in the Fitness Industry
#1 – Just Because You Got Fit and Workout You Can Be A Coach
I see this, ALL. THE. TIME.
Person gets interested in fitness. Joins a gym or a fitness program. Loss weight or maybe competes in a fitness event such as a marathon, triathlon, or physique show. Person then believes they can train other people to do the same thing.
No. No you can’t. Just because you train does NOT mean you are now able to train others.
Have you ever been sick and gone to the doctor? Did they give you advice, maybe a prescription, and help heal what was ailing you? That is really great and I am glad that you are now happy and healthy. Does this also mean that YOU can now heal other people with the same ailment?
Surviving cancer doesn’t qualify you to treat someone else’s cancer.
No, that analogy isn’t too far fetched. We are talking about your health. Being fit will LITERALLY save your life.
If you want to be a fitness professional you have to go to the next step. Getting in shape or training is a great starting point. But then you have to start and continue to educate and train yourself.
Certifications, mentors, books, conferences, clinics, and research are
all imperative to becoming a fitness professional. If you are not doing these things on a regular basis (should be monthly at the least) then you ARE NOT a fitness professional. You are a hobbyist and you have no right or authority to be taking other people’s health into your hands.
So to all the fitness ‘pros’ out there who put a squat rack in your garage and charge people to train with you on the weekends because you really love it – stop it. You are either in or you are out. You are either a professional or you are a hobbyist.
#2 – You Have to Have a 6 Pack To Be a Fitness Coach
Seriously. This is the most ludacris argument in the fitness industry today.
Your outward appearance is not indicative of your health or your ability to coach others. We are talking about coaching and teaching not about a person’s ability to create a chiseled set of abs on themselves.
I have never had a six-pack. I never will. I do not have the dedication to my diet or enough of a desire to have a six-pack to do what it takes to be that lean. Does this have anything to do with my ability to coach fitness?
Is an oncologist who smokes less capable of treating your cancer?
No. They know better and are making a poor choice but they are not inept.
I don’t have a 6 pack. I can deadlift 400lbs, my blood pressure and cholesterol are awesome, I can pack my camera gear anywhere in the world with ease, and I am injury free. Guess what? I am healthy.
Having a hot body does not a fitness professional make.
Should someone be morbidly obese and eat fast food every night? No, that is something different. But there is a range of healthy and more health markers to monitor your health than what your stomach looks like.
If you are choosing your fitness professional simply by their physical appearance I can promise you that you are NOT guaranteed to get a quality provider.
#3 – You Want to Be a Fitness Expert, But You Don’t Actually Coach
You have to be working in the industry you purport to be an expert in.
The Internet is rife with ‘fitness coaches’ and ‘business coaches’ who don’t actually train anyone or run a business.
Be very leery of this. If you are going to hire a fitness coach you need to make sure they actually coach people. Regularly. Not 5 years ago they used to train people and now just read about it. Do not take advice from anyone who doesn’t actually do it for a living.
The same goes for all those supposed coaches out there who want to help you grow your personal training business who doesn’t actually run a personal training business. You would think that is logical. You wouldn’t believe how many people seem to ignore this simple fact.
The fitness world is constantly evolving and if you are not working in it on a regular basis then you have no business teaching others how to be operating.
#4 – The Lack of Regulation Scares the Shit Out of Me
The fitness industry is totally unregulated. Doctors, lawyers, physiotherapists, massage therapists, mechanics, nurses, and even financial planners all have colleges, associations, and regulatory bodies that they must belong to and that set standards of education and updated skills.
The fitness industry has nothing.
Anyone can train people. Teach fitness classes. Give out nutrition advice. There is absolutely no protection whatsoever for consumers and the general public to ensure that the person they are hiring and investing their health, their LIVES, in is in anyway competent to be their coach.
People get fit and then put a squat rack in their basement and start training others. No certs. No mentors. No updated education. They just put them through all the workouts they were put through, because hey, if it worked for them it will work for everyone else.
Other people have amazing inspirational stories about how fitness changed their lives and in some cases saved their lives. I think that is fantastic! Awesome! Change the world, help and motivate others, share your experience.
But that does not qualify you to be a fitness professional. Can you be a fitness professional? Absolutely. But you have to continue to hone and further your skills. As I have already stated – education, certification, clinics, courses, conferences. You have to keep learning and make yourself a professional. An inspirational story is just the beginning of that process.
It is scary. No regulation. No regulatory body. There really needs to be one. Unfortunately, the industry itself fights against regulation. I believe it is because more than half the ‘professionals’ in the industry wouldn’t have a hope of passing evidence based regulation.
But until it happens we can never be taken as serious professionals. And those of us who are truly dedicated to advancing the industry with evidence-based practice have an uphill battle proving ourselves.
#5 – Critiquing is Not Bullying
There is a serious issue with online bullying and people using the anonymity of the internet to belittle and rip apart others. I am a strong advocate for creating ways to prevent this.
But sometimes it goes too far. Too far.
Professional critique is not bullying. It is professional critique. And if you want to be a professional you must be held accountable to critique from other professionals. THAT is how we maintain a professional standard.
Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power.
Bullying may be defined as the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally or emotionally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person. (Source: Wikipedia)
So often in the fitness world true critique is labeled as bullying. There is a strong difference. Personal attacks and slugging insults is inappropriate and uncalled for. However, critiquing exercises, blogs, videos, pictures, or other publically posted links is a necessary part of a profession.
We have to change a lot of what happens in the realm of fitness. We NEED to crituqe each other and make everyone accountable. And this critique needs to be limited to fitness and must not be personal or attacking a persons character.
#6 – Fitness Needs to Become Professional
The industry needs to change. We need to become a regulated profession.
There has to be a set of standards created. There has to be a regulatory body that oversees the entire industry. There has to be a certification process that has a clear path for people to follow in order to obtain the certification. There has to be an education credential that ensures a high standard for fitness professionals.
I preach this because I care. I care so much I have dedicated my life to setting a high standard of what a fitness professional should be. Not because I am a narcissistic asshole but because I hold myself to the same standard that I hold others to.
That is what a professional does. Maintain a high standard and make sure everyone else in their industry also meets the same standard.