State of the Union Address- The Fitness Industry

After watching one of the craziest election years of anyone’s lifetime; I decided to throw my hat in the ring with the State of the Union Address for the Fitness Industry.
I’m a chiropractor, and there is a great similarity to Chiropractic and Fitness industries; sadly, the one I’m referring to is not something to be proud of. Each industry has many great people in it who serve millions of people with great information and improve the health of their communities. Unfortunately, there is so much confusion amongst the public when it comes to understanding each of these industries; mainly because there is also a large group in each that is full of crap, and would sell anything to make a buck…even if it creates greater risk than benefit for the end user.
Weight loss mega-hits like “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Weight Loss” are a double edged sword. On a positive note, it brings nutrition and exercise to the forefront and a topic of discussion around the donut shops. It also shows that regardless of your health, you can start an exercise program and see results. My biggest issue with these shows is they are not realistic for the public as a whole, often times creates an unrealistic perception of healthy weight loss.
Another current trend in the fitness industry that bothers me is the “magic pill”. The public is searching for the fountain of youth, something that gets the results they seek with little or no effort. The truth is that this does not exist. That does not mean, however, that someone won’t try to sell you some of their magic beans. The truth is not sexy. Doing the small things, repeatedly over time, is what will yield the best results over the long haul. The same can be said about creating wealth, brushing your teeth, becoming great at a craft or improving your health.
When I first heard of the “sickness-wellness-fitness” continuum in the CrossFit Journal I knew they were on to something. Sickness, wellness and fitness are all measures of one quality; health. In regards to health; “fitness” should be considered “super wellness”. “Wellness” should be based on measurables included, but not limited to; blood pressure, body composition, bone density, triglycerides, good/bad cholesterol, flexibility, muscle mass, etc. I believe working with individual through this continuum is important, and working towards continual progress is essential. Unfortunately many in the fitness industry don’t look at the whole picture, and only consider aesthetics, weight, and weight loss as the most important measurable. Many times I’ll see this lead to recommendations of crash diets, ultra long “cardio” sessions, and fat burning supplements.
On a positive note, the reasons I believe we are continuing to see CrossFit affiliates take over some cities is because of the intangibles they provide when compared to the traditional globo-gym and group training classes, personal training studios, or jamming to P90X in your living room.  What the best CrossFit affiliates provide is education, accountability and fun. For many people, CrossFit is the first time they find going to the gym an enjoyable experience! If you can enjoy something and spend time with your friends while doing it, your chances of sticking with something when the going gets tough are much greater. The social aspect of CrossFit is something that other fitness trends struggle to compete with. The social stickiness of the group at many CrossFit affiliates cannot be compared to group classes at a traditional gym, or most bootcamp programs. The health benefits of such a group, and immersing oneself in a positive atmosphere such as an affiliate cannot be understated. As changes occur, and new fitness trends emerge I’d expect you’ll start to see more of the group dynamic brought to the forefront in effort to compete with CrossFit affiliates.
At the end of the day, it’s a “bright spot” in my book if someone is walking, and making an attempt to get moving and improve their healthy. That’s a good start! My job is to provide the tools and to help them make the best decisions possible for their situation to get healthy.
I can’t think of a smarter way to improve the health of a nation, than by improving the health of its people.