Attention fitness professionals: Why is there such a focus and an assumption that everyone on the planet should or wants to look like a Navy Seal?! Over and over I see fitness professionals trying to “motivate” people by putting them through the same paces an athlete goes through. But the truth of the situation is that 1) Most athletes are bit on the nutty scale psychologically, myself included – how else could I have completely ripped my hamstring off the bone but still went out for a pint with friends?! 2) Most athletes, including ex-military pay a price for pushing their bodies so hard. Ask any paratrooper over 50 how their knees and back feel on most days. 3) The general population can benefit greatly by exercise, but are “boot camp” and “cross-fit” style workouts appropriate? I see fitness professionals trying their best to motivate but without a good sense of how they are being perceived. To a die-hard gym rat, these high energy classes seem like “fun.” But to the person who is shy, weak and uncomfortable with their body this approach can look like a coked-out 80’s aerobic instructor or a tatted up Russian UFC fighter – neither is going to be terribly successful on enticing the people who really need our help!
If we truly want to practice what we preach as fitness professionals, that our goals are to help people have better day to day health and to reach physical and mental goals previously thought to be unattainable, then we must stop trying to expect everyone to be the same or to be motivated the same way. We must stop putting the average client through workouts that we would find exhilarating and rather begin where they are.
I do believe that every person can train to their individual highest level. But the job of the trainer is to shore up the weak spots and develop that individual’s best skills. Imagine if you were putting together an elite team. Yes, you would want everyone’s base level of conditioning to be up to the level that will be demanded in the game. But you wouldn’t take your fastest guy and make him your blocker. Nor if you needed an agile, swift and light person would you send in the strongman competitor.
If we want to create better health in the nations, we have to do it via good management. Adaptable training can serve all people successfully – but the trainers’ need to shift approach to make that elite team happen!