Find out why the fitness industry has been led by consumers rather than evidence.
Late last year I had an interesting conversation with a health club manager. I noticed the club had given over a large amount of space for what I would describe as a version of Cross fit. So what’s this about I asked? You’re a Cross fit gym now? I know, I know he said. Its what the members want though. This got me thinking, here’s one of the best equipped gyms in the country, giving over a significant amount of space to a form of training that already has its own followers and community. What gives?
This is not an isolated incident either. Look around most commercial gyms and you’ll see large areas given over to so called functional training zones. In many cases they’ve removed useful pieces of equipment to make room for tyres, battle ropes and sleds. You’d guess there must be a significant amount of scientific literature to support this new direction right?
There’s little evidence to suggest that either ‘functional training’ or Olympic style weight lifting produces superior gains to machine based resistance training. Quite the reverse in fact. This is especially true for the populations that most commercial gyms serve. Should a 45 year old accountant who wants to drop a few pounds, get a bit stronger and reduce his back ache, really be learning how to clean and jerk and flip tractor tyres? It’s a nonsense of course.
If I go to my Doctor with a particular issue, I don’t tell her the course of treatment she should recommend. I listen to her advice because she’s spent over 10 years training to be a GP. Likewise the fitness industry should be doing all it can to look at the evidence and recommend a sensible course of action to the consumer. People are coming to us for advice and guidance, we shouldn’t be asking them what they want beyond their opinion on our service and choice of towels.
The primary reason any consumer wants to engage the services of a fitness professional is to help them make good decisions. The shiny new thing that’s currently popular with celebrities or in fitness magazines is not relevant. Professionals make recommendations using evidence, experience, and education. Not what’s popular.