Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who's In Bed with Who in the Fitness Industry?

It's funny how everything moves in cycles. Re-discovering is a beautiful thing. It gives a chance to go back and plan things out better. It gives us a chance to make corrections, modifications, and cash in on things we missed out on the first time.

In the fitness industry, it started with body weight exercises--which in the early 70's lost its luster to Nautilus and other exercise machinery. Now, using one' body-weight has returned in full force as a very effective means of exercising. Very viable and very cunning.

Bodybuilding was popular in the late 80s and 90's and suddenly took a back seat to functional training. Experts swore at bodybuilding up and down. It was blamed for producing Neanderthals that spout out clueless advice, wore baggy pants, and shot up in the gym locker-rooms.
Then, experts shined the light on functional exercise and the use of different tools to accentuate different training environments. In the early 2000s, functional training became the standard. Gyms across America added stability balls, medicine balls, foam rollers, dyna-discs, bands, and BOSU balls to their floors.

The functional craze was reinforced by many personal training organizations that emphasized using these tools (among others) to train sedentary people. Soon, many trainers were getting their overweight clients with absolutely no experience working out, balancing on a half foam roller and touching a 3 inch high cone. At the time it looked cool. At the time, it made many trainers "look" like physical therapists. For some, it made them "think" they were physical therapists.

Just a few short years ago, the functional training craze was beginning to rage out of control. There were all sorts of dangerous, meaningless exercises appearing on YouTube:

Then, many in the fitness field began to look back and examine what REALLY worked and what did not. Those few experts that worked day in and day out with people used research and application to learn more about what was the "meat" and what was the "fat" in their program. These "in the trenches" trainers and professionals began to spread the word that some of the silly apparatuses used in the fitness industry were...well...silly. They trimmed the "fat" from their programs, and again, the cycle continued...

We returned back to the basics of strength training. Again, we turned to the iron. Barbell and dumbbell exercises replaced the funny, florescent colored balls and plastic thingys. We turned our attention to supplementing body-weight loads with basic tools like ropes, kettlebells, heavy bags, and boxing.

What happened next? The basics worked! Fitness professionals began to turn their attention to not the tool they used---but the program itself. Conditioning circuits, barbell complexes, bodyweight pulls and pushes began to reap results for thousands of people. Although, the  aforementioned fitness tools had declined in popularity (balls, BOSU, balance boards), a new breed of fitness tools began to emerge. 

Many companies began to single out experts to "represent" this new breed of fitness tools. And the commercialization of these tools took off. With contracts signed, the market saturation began to pool with many experts advocating a certain tool--whether it was suspension training, odd-shaped, strongman, or bodyweight training tools--all were in charge of promoting it to an audience VERY hungry for something new. 

Remember the cycle? When we realized that the bare basics were essential--like deadlifts, squats, push-ups, chin/pulls ups, and presses--it replaced the balls, BOSUs, and balance boards. It seems that those bare essentials got boring...or just too hard..or monotonous for the industry. And fitness tools again, have entered the limelight. 

There is nothing wrong with using any type of training tool. Just know why you are using it. Many companies today place an expert (and pay the expert somehow--either with $$$ or free perks) and encourage you to buy a certain product. When you attend conferences and seminars, its like being on a cruise ship. You are "stuck" on this massive pedestal floating in the sea and tempted to buy what is there because it simply around you and "one of the biggest names in the fitness industry uses it".

Shop with the intent that you will purchase and add a tool to your arsenal because you find its use to fit in with A.) your philosophy, B.) your clientèle, or C.) style of programming. Don't buy it simply because it is the hottest thing going on over on the West Coast; or expert XYZ is promoting it. It is your responsibility that you make the purchase based on how it fits into your business and training model. It is not the responsibility of the expert (turned celebrity) to discourage you to buy it based on those reasons. Their job is to promote it; showcase it; and whore it out.

In America, we are around commercialization and capitalism daily. There is nothing wrong in the matter. But we are also left with choices. There is no one type of training model. There are numerous different ways to apply a specific training model to different types of clients or athletes. There is only ONE way to do it though...the right way or the wrong way. Experts are great to learn from---but its important that we keep it on a "learning" plane and not one that simply turns into a overly exploited info-commericial. Next time you attend a seminar or conference, and you see the latest tool being promoted by an "expert". Ask them these 3 questions:

1.) Do you presently train clients or athletes? And if so, how many and how often?
2.) Do you design exercise programs without XYZ gadget or do you design all programs AROUND this gadget?
3.) What is your philosophy?

1 comment:

  1. good piece of information. thanks for sharing. Keep up the good post.


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