WHY THE FITNESS INDUSTRY IS DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD!
It sounds crazy but this statement from the title above really is a possibility if you fall into the wrong hands of an inexperienced and under-qualified PT.
With the fitness industry booming now as it never has before, everybody is looking for that quick fix and quick diet to whip them into shape in minimal time. Just as the fitness industry itself realises the need for supply and demand, so to are the amount of “PT’s” being churned out by various training companies to take advantage of this boom and supply the public with more and more trainers. Not only is this reflecting the consumerist style approach of i “I want it now” but it also is adding more of a problem in that the lack of experience and syllabus content to become qualified in what is essentially a very important aspect to human well being.
A few days ago when i was about to be anaesthetised before my shoulder reconstruction, the anaesthetist (an ultra marathon runner herself) asked if I was a fitness instructor. Something I hate as it puts me in the pool with the other scampi that have thought “oh yeah, easy money i’ll get my 3 month qualification and then train people with serious problems that need more than 3 months of experience and qualifications.”
When I asked her, “did it take you 3 months to become an anaesthetist she replied sarcastically and with a laugh as if to portray the pain staking years of study that got here to here “NO!”
So i said to her : “there is my argument and point” before shortly nodding off and waking up to a world of hell in the fact that my shoulder had just had 5 pins put in amongst other gory stuff removed and added.
When i speak of this issue to my GP and consultant clients, they too feel somewhat outraged at what is taking place within the fitness industry. How there seems to be no regulation whatsoever of who and what is allowing this sea of “PT’s” take responsibility for people who are essentially vulnerable and giving them sometimes the completely wrong advice or at least, very limited and outdated information on how to get better. But then again, my clients are working professionals who can smell a rat a mile off.
I see it all the time on the gym floor. You get a guy that likes bodybuilding or reading flex magazine so he becomes a PT, err no thanks, if i was 55 with chronic back pain why would i want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger let alone have the ability to do well on my “Leg day beasting” workout! Same if i was a tri-athlete, female with post natal depression, anorexic etc etc or any other non bodybuilding interested person. How is starving myself of the right nutrients to look more “shredded” going to help me with my daily activities? So it goes unnoticed, and these people only know one thing, how to train others like they do themselves. And the unsuspecting vulnerable public go with it because all they see is that these people are “qualified”. This shouldn’t be an industry where you train people because you like to train and therefore enforce your goals which have made you happy onto them. Everyone is different and so must be treated differently. And that means knowledge in all aspects to training and rehab, not just 3 months of drawing pointless stick diagrams alongside a training plan to give to your client to follow.
And don’t get me started on crossfit. The ultimate abomination of a so called “sport” which is based entirely on olympic lifting which is actually in most part meant to aid athletic performance. Not to be judged on how many AMRAPS or whatever crap they call it you can do in ten minutes.
But again, with enough backing behind it (Reebok in this case) it gets funded and now even has it’s own qualification level. I find this hard to get my head around although i was thinking about starting my own fitness course call Super High Intensity Training Exercises or for short (as the industry loves using abbreviations) S.H.I.T.E.
Just think, you could become level one qualified and go up the ladder teaching more complex S.H.I.T.E. to every sucker wanting to pay for it. Of course you would get results as the human body will always have short term adaptations to almost any exercise, yes, even walking, just as cross fit does but i’m sure you would also accumulate a fair few injuries in the meantime too. Hack et al. (2013) demonstrated this nicely in their journal “the nature and prevalence of injury during cross fit training” with a whopping 73% of participants in a cross fit group sustaining injuries, 7% to the spine and 186 injuries in total with an injury incidence of 3.1 per 1000 hours trained! So just think about this the next time you want to do a so called “sport” which demonstrated olympic lifts as their main centrepiece, even though when i was at Loughborough uni, the GB athletes said it took roughly 10 years to master any one lift and that wasn’t to master a lift for the sake of it but to become a better sprinter, or long-jumper or hurdler. So how the hell can you be taught it in 10 minutes, be left on your own to suss it out with the odd prod in correction amongst a group of 20 others doing the same thing with just one or two instructors?! Ask Reebok and the almost cult like followers of cross-fit.
I can guarantee that if all of the above qualifications needed a 3 year minimum level of study like that of my degree, then half the PT’s and boom wouldn’t exists as it would take too long and would be too hard for some people to be committed to. Just as becoming a dentist or doctor takes 6 years and then you go further into what type of medical field you want to specialise in. Do we become police in 3 months? Architects in 3 months? Precisely. And the human body needs more credit to it than to be trained by basically novices.
The reason why i write this blog is because recently I too have questioned why I am involved in this industry with what I see going on around me on the gym floor. When i talk to my clients about how disheartening it is and how this was never what i wanted to be involved in as it has become now they say, “if you give up on this then you give up on people that really do need genuine help”. Fair point! That’s why I have chosen to study my MSc in psychology and further my knowledge so I can help others. I know i’m already messed up mentally (haha) but why not help those that need it most, especially in the clients I see, some of whom have severe depression, work/life imbalances or lack of confidence. Rather than just giving advice I want it to come from a validated and credited source like the British Psychological Society, through journals and books written by specialists and eventually from my MSc. Not something from some cheesy Facebook meme or column written in the agony aunt section that I can paraphrase to them. This way I know I am being professional and helpful to those I serve.
So next time you want to get a trainer, go for it, just make sure you check their qualifications and if it is nothing less than a degree, i wouldn’t go anywhere near it. Ask for their cv in worldwide experience, ask what they wrote their dissertation on. I would. If they can answer those questions you’ve found a keeper.
Now in closing, I have an interest in medicine, I’m setting up my own GP practice from my garage. Anyone want to become my first patient? I know lots about colds and apparently vitamin C is the best cure. See, i’m an expert!!
Here are some funny links and articles to what i have mentioned. The first is about the supplement world and the second is kind of the two types of inexperienced coaches mentioned in cross fit and the third, just hilarious: