This is an open note to anybody who actually wants to elicit change through their work in the fitness industry.
I have seen a trend and believe you’re focusing on the wrong thing. I do not believe the solution lies in education. Telling people they shouldn’t eat sugar for the 1000th time or that they should exercise or “get after it” is not working. The disturbing increase in obesity is proof enough. I cannot walk by a fast food joint at lunch without seeing a line up out the door of teenage kids knocking back pizza or a hamburger. Parents still feed their kids shit and I still get told daily by people that they wish they could eat better or exercise more or hurt less. So why aren’t they?
Do you really think pumping them with your opinion on the latest diet or bouncing back and forth on negligible details like whether eggs are good or bad for you are helping? In the great scheme of things eggs are good. There, now don’t ever talk about it again. Focus on what matters. If you don’t eat a heaping plate of veggies and exercise daily don’t worry about both the physical and metaphorical egg.
So to all fitness professionals I ask you what happens when you interact with the outside world? Can you have a conversation without somebody asking your advice on diet X or Y or workout plan Z?
Am I wrong in saying that the majority of people already know what they should do to get healthy. It’s not rocket science:
1. Eat vegetables (a lot of them)
2. Exercise (you don’t have to kill yourself, just make a couple minutes each day to keep active. I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU DO. JUST MOVE)
3.Keep starchy carbs to a minimum.
4. The more nutrient dense foods the better.
5. Whole foods before supplements. ALWAYS. Supplements are just that, a supplement.
Is there a better way to do things? Probably but who gives a shit. You are paralyzing people by over-analyzing and getting over excited at every trend. Fitness professionals are at fault here, not the other way around. Over the past 2 years I have been to 20+ conferences, seminars, and workshops. The trend is always the same. The empirical and research-based information gets pushed to the side as fitness professionals play with the new toys or debate whether paleo, intermittent fasting, carb backloading or whatever trend is in vogue at the time is better.
Whoever yells the loudest gets heard. Facts are not checked. Research is cherry-picked. And false conclusions are reached. None of these things are bad but who needs them? Get people to move and eat a decent diet first.
Who are you debating with? Who are you helping? If somebody cares enough to debate over the internet on any of these subjects they have already made up their mind. Even if you prove them wrong they won’t admit it. They have had results with whatever their debating and it’s become a part of them. The minute you try to open their minds they experience cognitive dissonance and become more pushed to protect whatever they believe in.
In actuality what you’re doing is confusing the people who really need help. So do what you do and research what you research but please recognize that most people don’t need a fraction of what you know.
So what’s the solution?
The solution is to figure out what’s stopping the majority of people from healthy choices. I believe the biggest barrier is confusion. That confusion stems from too much shouting and proverbial beating of the chest by fitness pros whose egos take over. The result is a healthy lifestyle which should be easy to follow becomes a daunting task. A task where the person is constantly second guessing themselves and doesn’t know who to believe. So they relapse and go back to their old ways. Every time that happens long-lasting change becomes harder and harder to ascertain.
So make it easy and make it comfortable.
Stop giving people complicated recommendations. Meal plans do not work for most clients. The adherence is embarrassingly low. Have them write on a piece of paper what they eat for 3 days. Then ask them one thing they want to change for the week. Smile, nod your head, and say that you agree. The next week take out the same sheet and congratulate them on their positive behavior and ask them what they want to change next.
Stop posting Photoshopped images of sweaty models on your Facebook account with motivational quotes said by somebody you’ve never met. You are widening the gap. These images make for an elitist industry. We should be approachable and invite people of any size and experience to join our programs and start their journey. Whenever I get told that people have to “work their way to the gym” I want to throw up.
Smile. Hard. Always. At every person you see. Fitness professionals should not be scary. We should be ambassadors who stand at the front line for preventative medicine.
Stop counting reps and speaking in absolutes. 8 reps might be better than 10 which might be worse than 4 depending on somebodies goals. I get it. So few exercisers are anywhere close to that stage in their training where they need to concern themselves with this. Focus on movement quality and strengthening the mind. Think of numbers as a range that will change daily based on everything from sleep quality, food, stress, and even who else is in the gym.
This will be my last post on fitness. In a couple days this webpage will be shut down and replaced with a landing page. I don’t think there’s a need for it. There’s too much noise in the fitness world already and I don’t feel the need to add any more. My focus is on giving the right people the tools to get their word out. Nothing more.
Soon I will be launching www.viralnomics.com where I’m going to be writing my next book online, for free. It’s about identifying an audience and creating messages to go viral contained within that audience. If you wish to be notified when the site launches or keep up with updates you can sign up below with your email. Those that are already on the email list for this site are welcome to unsubscribe if they were only interested in fitness related posts. Thank you for all of your continued support. Note that if you want to be kept up to date and see what’s going on with Viralnomics I’ve set up the Facebook page already. Feel free to checkwww.facebook.com/viralnomics out.
photo credit: Marshall Astor – Food Fetishist