In the year 2020, there exists a smorgasbord of options for getting in shape. There is every option under the sun to get fit, from group se
ttings to personal training, from instagram influencers to judgement free gyms. Whatever you could think of, there is a business that can offer you that type of fitness. But is that how it should be? The same thing exists for nutrition. There seem to be any and every option to help you lose weight, get fit, and stay lean. However, there are fundamental flaws in all but a few of these options, and our journey today is to explore those options and come up with the best solution to living a healthy lifestyle and become the fittest we can be.
To be clear, I do not want to talk about whether doing the stair climber for 20 minutes is better than hitting chest day twice a week. The answers for that will become evident throughout the article. I want to talk about some misconceptions and misleading ideas that are being produced by not only current companies within the fitness world, but with our modern fitness culture as a whole. Let’s get real and take a hard look at the things happening within fitness.
1. Don’t follow a fad.
If you take a serious look at almost any fitness or nutrition program at its core, you begin to realize that it is simply giving you what you want to hear because we are addicted to chasing quick fixes. I’m not going to play the name calling game, but if you, as a fitness coach, are selling ‘12-week-challenges’ or 30-day diets/cleanses, you are not only doing a disservice to yourself as a fitness coach, but to every person who you have an influence over. Stop selling 12-week program after 12-week program thinking that you’re helping someone get into shape. Stop teaching people that the only times they need to eat healthy are whenever they’re doing a 30-day challenge. The truth of the matter is that fitness is the future. We live in a society where nearly 40% of adults and 20% of children are affected by obesity. Where obesity can be linked to the second highest death count of preventable deaths. Where cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. This stuff is serious. If you’re a fitness coach, take a deep look into what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If it’s purely monetarily driven, please look again. We are the front-line soldiers on a war against an epidemic that is wiping out our population.
At OPEX Morgantown, or any OPEX gym for that matter, we want to keep individuals moving for life. We are not interested in helping you lose 30 pounds in 30 days, or making you do Keto and cardio on repeat. We teach you how to be healthy forever. We meet you where you are and work from there. We will help you create and sustain healthy eating habits, learn the intention behind your workouts, and teach you how to do all these things autonomously. That has always been something that has stuck with me from learning more through OPEX. We don’t want you to still be with us in 5 years. By that time, we want to have taught you all you need to know about creating a healthy lifestyle and maintaining habits to do so. We want you to know why you’re doing what you’re doing, how to do it safely and effectively, and ultimately, how to maintain the habits for many years to come.
2. Honor the individual.
This concept may seem very simple and common, but when you look at the big picture of fitness, there is very little importance of the individual (unless you’re in a personal training situation, but that is not what I’m referring to). Let’s take a look at one of the most popular fitness categories in the industry - group fitness. Again, I’m not here to play the name-calling game, but I’m sure we all can associate some of the popular businesses and gyms to group fitness. What’s inherently wrong with group fitness is that there is no respect for the individual - no matter how many scaling options or beginner courses you offer. In the group fitness setting, there are very few ways to tell the fitness and lifestyle background of that individual. Have you truly assessed all of the basic movement patterns (squat, bend, push, pull)? What about their core or bracing strength? Have you established their baseline aerobic capacity? What are their goals? Do you know what their schedule looks like? Have they had any injuries? What kind of fitness have they done in the past? Why are they truly there in the first place?
Let’s say you are somehow able to figure all of that out - albeit taking months upon months of coming to the same classes with the same coaches to be able to procure that information.
We can start by taking a look at if the individual is making the changes they need. Physically, are they progressing? I don’t mean are they making basic adaptations from being exposed to new movements, machines, or workouts - but are they truly making progress? Has their strength or aerobic capacity improved? Have their goals showed signs of coming to fruition? Are they maintaining any kind of healthy habits that you may have helped them put into place? Is there any way for you to know?
I’m going to say no. With group fitness, it’s just that - group fitness. As an individual, you are a face among a crowd. Yes, you may know the coach. Yes, you may know the people you’re working out with. But even with all of that being true, consider these questions. How many classes does that instructor teach? How many people do you think they see in just one day? Is that what they do full time, or do their priorities lay somewhere else (work, school, family, etc.)? There is nothing wrong with any of those things, but just don’t expect that level of attention or care whenever you go into a group fitness setting.
But OPEX Morgantown, they level of care that we provide for individuals is unparalleled. In fact, in a recent survey of our current clients, we had 100% of respondents answer yes to being constantly cared for. When a new client begins their fitness journey with us at OPEX Morgantown, the previously stated questions are all things that we look at before even getting started with their individually designed program. We sit down with any and every new person for 60 to 90 minutes prior to hitting the gym floor to discuss all those things. We call this the initial consultation. Truly, what it does is allows us to get to know the individual, what makes them tick, where their priorities are, and how we can help them live their healthiest lifestyle - using fitness as the medium. This is just the start of the ongoing relationship that we build with clients to let them know at the end of the day, we care a lot about them. We hold ongoing monthly consultations for clients as they progress through their fitness journey to help solidify the ongoing relationship, adjust goals and intentions as needed, tackle new habits to form or break such as nutrition, sleep quality, stress management, time management, etc. The bottom line is that we take extreme pride in honor the individual on all levels, from a program design to nutritional habits and everything in between.
3. Seek consistency, not intensity.
Going along with the idea of following fads, another big problem within the fitness industry is that the idea of the higher the intensity, the better the results. This could not be further from the truth. While high intensity does have its place in fitness, what often gets misconstrued is the intention and the dosage of intensity. Is it necessary for an individual to be beat up after each workout, laying on the ground in a pool of their sweat, and unable to walk for days after? Surely not. If we take a look at the idea of functional fitness, our fitness should act in a manner to serve our daily functions. You can take a look at this in your own experiences. Do your workouts leave you sore for days on end? Do you feel your energy depleted after a workout?
As much fun as it is to blast your chest or arms at the gym, do a really tough spin class, or crush a long WOD, it simply does not set you up for long term success. At the end of the day, exercising is just that - exercising. It’s not your job to workout. It’s not the only thing you do and it’s probably not even one of your top priorities. Your health may be a high priority, let’s also consider this. Is your health only attained and improved in the gym? Certainly not. Your health can be more clearly attributed to your nutrition and lifestyle than your workouts. And in going back to my first point, is it sustainable?
Similarly to the ‘fad’ conversation, what happens after your 12 week online program? Or after your Whole 30 challenge? Did you learn how to piece together sets, reps, or exercises to be able to workout on your own? Did you learn how to read a nutrition label or how to make healthy choices at the grocery store? Or did you simply follow it blindly, only to be back to square one afterwards. It is the consistency, the repetitiveness of well-intended actions, time after time, that will lead you to results.
I urge you - whoever you are that is reading this - to look at the fitness program you are following or having people follow and ask yourselves these questions and many more. There are probably many other flaws in the fitness industry that we could chase down rabbit holes, but for general purposes, these are the three that prove to be the most prevalent in today’s industry and culture.
At OPEX Morgantown, we have high value on all these things and more to help create an amazing environment for individuals to train for their goals, based on where they are at, while feeling the highest level of care and safety we can provide.