Monday, March 10, 2014

Health and Fitness = The Real 50 Shades of Grey?

I'm not sure how many people read the same things I do in the fitness industry, but if they do I suspect one of two things will happen:
  • They will be swayed by one of the "health and fitness" gurus who speak all-knowingly (and extremely charismatically) about something or other, and before they know it, they're swept away in the excitement of whatever ideological movement this happens to be, dropping deeper and deeper into the tribe and getting more and more defensive and close-minded to any sort of criticism or analysis that contradicts their new belief system.
  • They will come across another point that says the exact opposite of what their new system says, and then another.  But then they'll read something else that supports it.  Then another that tears it apart.  Then one where both sides are arguing the same thing, but getting stuck on semantics.  Back and forth, back and forth until the they're left weeping and unable to do anything in a corner (metaphorically).
So here's what we, as an industry, need to do.  
  • We need to stop trying to systemize and simplify everything to a simple flowchart.  Every person is unique, and for us to really help someone, we need multiple approaches in our "back pocket" to draw on.  
  • Continue to learn, evolve, practice, and develop higher and higher levels of critical thought.  
  • Stop dismissing everything that comes along which is contrary to what you (currently) believe, but stop jumping on every bandwagon.  
  • Learn to tell the difference between an ideology and a slickly-wrapped "product" based on an unproven theory (or worse, one that has already been disproved numerous times).  
  • Stop allowing the (healthy) development and debate enter mainstream media and social media - it just confuses the layperson.  
  • Raise our standards.  Stop letting people who failed as entertainers become "fitness gurus" (Tracy Anderson, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper... I'm talking to you.  Oh, and you too, Jenny McCarthy, though you're dangerous on a whole different level).  
  • And finally, stop being so judgmental.  Accept that your own system, as it stands now, may very well look completely different in 10 years, based on what the industry continues to learn - and in doing so, be part of that learning and developing instead of one of the people banging your fist on the table insisting the the earth is flat.
There are so many incredible things out there waiting to be discovered, and we can help so many more people, if we'd just put our own egos aside and start trying to work together.  *Sigh*  But then, is cooperation really part of human nature, or am I just hoping for an uncharacteristically optimistic outcome?

You know what?  Don't answer that.

~Guy