Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Fitness Industry is Dead 2.2

In the first installment of my reaction to rebooted Body's article, "The Health and Fitness Industry is Dead (and that includes you Paleo),"  I took a contrary opinion that while there is good information out there not being acted on by the general public, there is a lot more really bad information being acted on by most of the general public.  While getting good information out there is a key first step to making a viable health and fitness industry that actually succeeds at making people healthy and fit, it's just a bullet in a gun that's not being fired.  Someone has to pull the trigger and get it out into the world. 

The author makes one, key error in information delivery:  he assumes that the information is being properly disseminated.  I don't think it is, and I can see where he would think so.  My friend Chip Conrad's comments on this article on Facebook is what brought it to my attention.  His comment was eye-opening.  Here is a piece of it:

Roughly 15% of our culture is involved in movement to some degree. That's 85% not doing much in the way of being physically human. Why the fitness industry is 'dead' is because there is little geared towards addressing the 85% successfully. The 15% talks, posts and tweets amongst ourselves quite well, but there isn't a strong outreach program to that 85%...

I get the impression that the author thinks that the 85% who watch the Biggest Loser, work out at YouFit-Golds-Planetfitness, and think their Nikes make or break their fitness levels know much about Weston A. Price, Paleo, Crossfit, Mark Sisson, or  make a distinction between weightlifting and weight training.  Sure, some of these terms are seeping into public gym knowledge but the 85% don't know what they're really all about.  As far as I'm concerned, I agree that as part of that 15%, we don't do a great job with getting the word out to the other 85%. 

The most obvious explanation involves ego and self-interests.  Chip said it before too:  we are kind of like an underground movement and we enjoy the fact that we're underground.  There is certain amount of elitism that we all enjoy to varying degrees.  I see it when I go to the gym.  People congregate based on what they enjoy doing (general weight loss-fitness, powerlifters, pseudo-bodybuilders), not regularly interacting with one another.  I've not had much contact with Crossfitters because I don't actively seek out Crossfitters.  Crossfitters,  in return, rarely visit my blog.  The one time I can confirm that someone from RKC commented here it was to tell me that I couldn't properly snatch with an Ironmaster Kettlebell.  We have our cliques and often times, that's exactly where we stay.  Things clearly haven't changed much since high school for too much of the fitness world. 

Then, when we do reach out, I see issues about the accessibility of style of strength training that's being put forth.  Is it really something that people want to do?  Is it something that they can do?  As far as I'm concerned, no better example of this exists than bodybuilding.  Of all of the competing strength training interests out there, no other has so happily embraced the extreme of their clique quite like they have.  Author Randy Roach said it best:  bodybuilding has come full-circle.  75 years ago, they were considered freaks.  They fought their way into mainstream consciousness and acceptance only migrate back to freak show status.  Lots of kids get into sports idolizing they way that their favorite athlete does what they do.  Who really wants to look like this...
Anyone want striations on their glutes?

Then there's yet another problem with the marketing.  Simply put:  things move in trends with the fitness industry.  Crossfit may be approaching its raging peak of popularity right now.  Eventually, they'll reach a point of saturation and they'll descend out of the limelight and into the realm of parody.  It happened with aerobics, bodybuilding, etc.  The problem with that is that people need to keep moving far longer than that.  What kind of faith can the fitness industry instill in the aforementioned 85% when it keep changing it's collective mind about what the 85% needs to do to get fit? 

You don't see either of these guys much anymore.  Did Crossfit really think they were going to get people rushing to join with this kind of shit? 

While we're on the subject of trends, let's address the diet issue.  There is no other example of where the health and fitness industry has squandered goodwill and public faith with schizophrenic-like changes in advice than when it comes to diet.  Rather than admitting to the somewhat complicated nature of how the body either gains or looses fat, or gains muscle, the health and fitness industry has happily moves along with new diets that has the following narrative:
  1. Guaranteed to do what they say it will do.
  2. No other will work.
  3. That the last one was wrong. 
The problem all along is that there is always an exception to the rule.  Take Paleo Dieting for example.  I can't speak for the rest of you but I admit that it seems awfully strange to demonize bread, rice and dairy when many strong, healthy cultures have consumed all of these since farming began.  Frankly, they were all instrumental in humans making the jump from hunter-gathering tribal existence to civil societies!  Now it'll make you sick and kill you if you eat it?   I'm guessing it will be  matter of time before we laugh at this one much the way we now laugh at Weight Watchers. 

That's the issue with how the health and fitness industry has shot itself in the foot for the past half-century. With the infighting and constant reliance on trends as part of their business models, they succeed in making themselves into a joke for the remaining 10.5 months after New Years wears off and the Superbowl sabotages everyone's good intentions.  If the 85% are going to get fit and healthy, then the 15% has to come up with a way to get them eating right and moving properly for more than a couple of seasons.  That is, if that's the priority for us here, and sometimes I question if we even REALLY care.

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