The other day I learned that one of my friends sees the industry that I ‘grew up in’ as an ego-driven, body-obsessed joke full of people who can’t seem to agree on almost anything. He told me that he has “almost zero respect for fitness professionals” because, in his experience, they seem more interested in criticising other trainers (coaches, teachers), gyms and training modalities, than inspiring, empowering or leading people to physical transformation. While I don’t (totally) agree with him, I understand why he thinks the way he does and I would be an idiot to ignore such feedback from an intelligent, rational and objective fitness consumer.
His words got me to thinking…
Training fads will come and go. Traditional movements will be given new names. Fanatics will stand on soap boxes like religious zealots. People will continue to criticise those who don’t share their philosophy, ideology or beliefs. And exercise principles that have existed for centuries will be wrapped in a new ribbon and launched as a breakthrough ‘product’ on a gullible, and sometimes uneducated, population but when we look past the claims, the hype and the marketing….
Lifting is still lifting. Running is still running. Jumping is still jumping. A squat is still a squat. Elbow flexion is still elbow flexion. Hip extension is still hip extension. Eccentric loading is still eccentric loading. Progressive overload works just as it always has. Power, speed, strength, balance, co-ordination, aerobic and muscular endurance, flexibility and reaction time are still all trainable variables; as they always have been. Physiological adaptation works just like it did a thousand years ago. And bodies will still respond positively when following an appropriate program designed around a range of variables, specific to an individual.
Despite what the marketers might tell you, there is no single best training model. Just as there is no single best medicine, psychological technique or shoe size. But naturally, this truth doesn’t sit well with groups who have a system, product, brand or agenda to push. And obviously, when someone is ‘selling’ something then objectivity and impartiality go out the window. Even as someone who established the first commercial PT centre in the country and is still passionate about the industry, I’m well aware that, in many instances, PT is not the best option and may even produce a negative outcome. No, PT is not the ‘best’ option but rather, ‘an’ option. For me to think otherwise would be pure ego. I’m running a brand new program in March that I’m excited about but do I think it’s the best program in the world? No. Will some benefit from it? Yes. Should everyone do it? No. Am I okay with that? Totally.
And the ‘best’ program?
The ‘best’ exercise program for me (for example) is one that’s based on, but not limited to, numerous variables such as my (1) training background (2) current level of condition (3) injuries (4) genetics (5) training, sporting and competitive goals (6) current health status and goals (7) medication (8) thinking, attitude, beliefs, likes and dislikes (psychological profile) (9) biological age and (10) bio-feedback on a given day. To name a few.
And before you ask, no, I’m not talking about a specific group, brand or product today. I know what some of you are thinking and you’re wrong. I have explored most training modalities and find the majority of them to be very effective for producing certain positive outcomes for certain individuals, depending on their needs, goals and situation. What I am talking about is the thinking, arrogance and ugliness that seems to have permeated the industry that gave me a start. That taught me so much and provided me with so many awesome opportunities. An industry that, these days, seems to be less about people and more about money.
I am not writing this to open a door on some kind of group bitch-fest about certain people, groups or training philosophies. In fact, what I’d love to see is the exact opposite. Conversation and interaction based on respect, tolerance, humility, reason and a collective desire to do better, learn better and to slowly become an industry united (despite our different philosophies), not divided.