|Originally Posted 09/29/09
Sooner or later, the pendulum has to swing back in our favor. Everything that is bad for us in this country eventually becomes viewed as nasty, a backlash forms, and we revolt against what is hurting us and move ahead.
Cigarettes peaked several decades ago and now you are morally a bad person if you smoke. The judgment zone went from socially cool and featured in the movies, then came the first levels of being unacceptable, to yucky, to socially unacceptable, to you must have a rotten soul if you smoke. The pendulum swung from glamorous all the way back to deviant in just a matter of years.
Fitness, and especially weight management, has to swing our way because we just can't get that much fatter. We are slow learners in this country but when we do get pissed we have the brain trust and the resources to declare war on any issue that really pisses us off. Right now, we are just at the point where the pendulum has swung all the way out and is hanging at that weightless point before plunging back toward what we all know and believe: fitness matters and a healthier lifestyle is relevant in this county.
We are also in the stage where we do know what has to happen and we are learning how to get people fit. What we can never agree upon, however, is how to eat. One man's healthy feast is another's source of fat gain and until we get a little more unified in our beliefs, we might be doing more harm to the clients than good. Here are a few examples of the more we learn the less we know:
• Why is every recommended diet result in one third losing weight, one third staying the same and one third gaining weight?
• Why do fitness centers, the alleged source of the fountain of youth, suck so badly at even delivering the most basic of weight management information and support?
• Dieting is nothing more than the absence of the crap food you were eating on a temporary basis. You lose a few pounds then eat the crap again and get fat again. Until we teach people how to eat healthy nothing will really change.
• Why are most nutritionists so out of touch with people that move everyday? Why can't they understand the difference between an active adult and one who has never moved?
• How come drug ads on television are now trying to make taking drugs a badge of honor? The drug makers make having a perceived illness as something that makes you unique and something you can flaunt to your friends.
• If you don't fix the children, you will never change the adults. Most adults over 30 that are really out of shape won't change and we shouldn't even bother trying to change them. The ones who seek change will find us but most will be locked in for life because the habit of being fat is too much to change if you haven't seen the importance of fitness by that time in your life. Change the kids and how they think about fitness and you will change the future.
• Any woman under 30 with low cut jeans, a short top and a roll of fat hanging over the side should do prison time. Any guy over 30 with a wife beater shirt and hat on backwards should be sent to Iraq as an Al Qaeda practice dummy. These two points have nothing to do with the blog but I feel better venting.
• Why hasn't mainstream medicine explored metabolic typing as the only form of diet? It just has to be common sense that a person is an individual and that there is no one diet that fits their age, metabolic makeup and current health condition. Read William Wolcott if you don't know what I am referring to here. Individualizing food and diet has to be the only thing we haven't tried yet.
• Most trainers are too extreme in the eating suggestions. What person is going to eat dried chicken, white rice and broccoli out of Tupperware for the rest of their life and be happy about it? Because we don't know how to eat we suggest extremes for everyone, which helps no one.
• Keeping the last two blogs in mind, how come I have only met one doctor in 30 years that starts with lifestyle as a treatment rather than just suggesting side effect inducing drugs for life? Exercise and healthy food can cure more disease than the drugs that do nothing but mask the symptoms neglecting the origin of the disease itself.
• Whole, fresh and natural are words never used by anyone who orders food for an airport.
• Most of us believe that getting in shape is about 85% of what goes in your mouth and about 15% of how you move. How come the vast majority of fitness facilities only sell the 15%?
• It is scary to see heavy women in their 30's with mobility problems. Where will it end and who will pay for her lifetime medical conditions?
• The better the running shoe, the more likely you are to get hurt. If you love running and run for the shear joy of getting away from everything read, Born to Run, by Chris McDougall. It debunks running shoes as the solution to injuries and makes you want to get out the door and move. This guy might single-handed bring back the running craze and get people moving again.
• Why can't we just admit we are wrong and simplify fitness again? Dan John is still right. Fitness is as simple as picking up something off the floor and putting it over your head. We make training too complicated for most people. Simple is good and simple gets results. If you own a club or are a trainer, read his book, Never Let Go. We have some of the few copies you can still get through the NFBA. It is a must read if you are in this business. Also look at guys like Anthony Dilugio and his Art of Strength site. There is no simpler approach to fitness than one person and a couple of kettle bells in the back yard. We should be the ones teaching simple in the clubs and by the way, anyone spending an hour walking aimlessly on a tread in your club to lose weight isn't going to get there. We can't change them all but most members would really like to understand that hours on a tread don't lead to weight loss. If you can't explain HIIT then see Alwyn Cosgrove's site.
• We have 40,000 fitness centers in this country and yet we are still getting fatter as a nation. Maybe it's us? Maybe we just aren't helping as much as we think. Maybe we need to rethink fitness and how we teach it in the clubs.
• Get results with your members and you will never have to advertise again. Do you think that the guy who invents stuff that will really grow hair will ever have to advertise it?
• Supplements are great. Supplements kill you. I am going with great because I know what's in that McDonald's crap. Your higher income members are looking for guidance in supplements and you should be offering that information.
• If you are wearing it, you ate it. Shut up, workout and stop blaming someone else. It's your fault you're fat and nothing changes until the fat in your head understands the fat on your butt. Wouldn't you like to say this to a bunch of whinny members?
• The pendulum will change when the politicians get involved but they are mostly so out of shape that we may have to wait a while for anything to happen there.
• I don't understand why movie stars are in shape but their fans aren't? The teenagers think just starving gets you there but tell that to Angelina Jolie or Beyonce: fit freaks who get it done. I wish they would share the work they do to get the bodies they have-it might change how others think about fitness and dieting.
• How can fitness be done sitting down? Everything we have done since the beginning of time has been chase stuff, catch stuff and eat stuff but we take a deconditioned (nice word for too fat to move) person and immediately sit them on a recumbent, then move them to a row of machines where they sit or lay down while exercising and then we have them sit at the juice bar. What in hell are we thinking here? The last thing a struggling overweight person needs to do is sit more. Don't be the club that has mastered the art of ass sitting. Embrace movement and all the training that goes with it.
• Why are guys like Mike Boyle, Gray Cook and Todd Durkin so right and yet so few hear and learn? There are gurus out there talking about how to do it right but mainstream owners are very late to that dance. If your business is flat, one reason might be that you are selling pagers in the age of IPhones.
This list could go on for quite awhile because the more I learn the less I know and I want answers. This is a glorious business that changes lives but we could do so much more if we can simply move ahead in our thinking and stop doing fitness by old habit. The pendulum is coming our way but I am afraid it will just smack us on the ass.