Follow by Email

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Problem with the Profession of Health & Wellness

     I have been considering writing this article for some time now but hesitated due to concerns with angering our local health and fitness professionals.  Additionally let's not forget that I've worked in the industry for 18 years now in a variety of capacities including trainer, coach, health club owner and mentor.  So when I state that there's a problem with personal training it has the potential to create debate.  Before I go any further let me start by saying that this article in no way is an attempt to bash personal trainers.  The profession is a respectable career and one filled with compassion and a desire to truly help prevent disease and create a life of vitality and wellness.  My problem is this; with so many trainers and health and fitness professionals in the world, why aren't we seeing a decline with obesity and preventative disease?  And why do some clients get results but others seem to experience only minimal to moderate results?  Lastly, why aren't more people utilizing the services of fitness professionals or health clubs?  Is there really a problem with the profession?

     Some time ago I remember meeting with a weight-loss client struggling with late night eating and self-sabotage.  Every time she'd reach a weigh-loss milestone she would find herself frantically binging on high calorie food during the wee hours of the night only to completely reverse all of the hard work she had accomplished up that point.  This cycle was a common theme for years.  Another client spent most of his days sitting behind a computer diligently working away and packing on the pounds each year until he became tired of the weight and started working out again.  His pattern was working out with a trainer for 4 months and then stopping for 8 months until he gained all of his weight back and continued training again.  Recently he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes.  Why couldn't he change before this happened?  Another client asked me to work with her young daughter who at the age of eight was clinically obese and already had elevated triglycerides and cholesterol.  That's right, seven years old.  The common thread with the above three examples are that the first two clients never managed to maintain consistency and eventually dropped off my radar.  The family of the young girl I referred to eventually ceased training and from what I understand her level of health has not improved.  In each of the above cases the clients came to me looking for the answers to improve their health, the key to success and a dose of regular motivation needed to change their lives.  Was there something wrong with me?  Did my nationally recognized certification and years of education not provide the solution necessary to help improve the above clients lives?  Actually I think there's a more complex problem at hand that we all know exists but don't openly discuss. 
      The bottom line is that our lifestyles and communities have completely morphed into a sedentary condition that's unlike anything we've ever experienced.  Our days are spent behind computers, our food largely is processed, genetically modified and regular family meals are becoming a thing of the past for many.  Physical activity is being engineered out of our very lives for adults and children alike and not much is being done to ensure that this trend reverses.  And here's the problem with personal training and fitness centers.  They target a population that is already thinking about exercise, nutrition and wellness and individuals that are already doing something about it.  These centers and professionals are perfect for those looking to take their fitness to the next level or improve their time at their next triathlon or drop the last 20 pounds.  Most however fail to properly educate our community in all the areas necessary to succeed with ones health.  True health encompasses mindfulness, a certain awareness and honestly with oneself in terms of their current lifestyle, values and actions.  It requires one to come to terms with past and current experiences and move towards a life of truth, integrity, passion and vitality.  In essence true wellness requires that one focus on mental health while concurrently improving physical health.  Running on a treadmill 30 minutes a day in addition to resistance training and a moderate diet is not enough information for any one person to effectively impact their overall wellness and that that's what many in the fitness world fail to recognize.  In order for personal trainers and health clubs in general to considerably impact the health of our communities they need to become health and wellness educators in addition to fitness professionals as well as advocate for health and programs that will impact our entire population.  If we hope to turn the tide of health in our nation and reverse the trends of obesity we need to expect more from our health and wellness professionals and also realize that there does not exist one solution to a multi-tiered problem.  True health requires a multifaceted approach and a team of health and wellness professionals that are willing to work with you on all levels until you finally recognize success. 

1 comment:

  1. "Our days are spent behind computers, our food largely is processed, genetically modified and regular family meals are becoming a thing of the past for many. Physical activity is being engineered out of our very lives for adults and children alike and not much is being done to ensure that this trend reverses." I think this is the biggest problem. There is so much misinformation and lack of education on just how bad almost all grocery store food is for you. If you try to talk about it, people tune you out as a crazy conspiracy theory lunatic. But documentaries like Supersize Me, and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead show that if we would just eat fruits & vegetables in their most natural form and move more, we would be happier and healthier. Society is going in the opposite direction, and if you're paying attention, it is absolutely appalling. It takes personal responsibility, but it also takes education, and corporations are doing everything they can to make sure that the education people need to be healthy is not readily available.