If you have been in the health and fitness industry over the past couple of decades its likely that you have been doing more harm than good...
It’s not your fault. The science and knowledge base that we were given was incomplete and faulty.
The good news is it is getting better and the knowledge and tools that were previously only available to those with significant resources like professional athletic programs is now becoming available to everyone. If you don’t make use of this evolving body of knowledge then indeed it will be your fault.
I know you are saying to yourself that you were still able to get results for your clients even with incomplete information but I will tell you what most people are afraid to say and admit in this industry… you could have done more harm than good.
You may have done long-term damage to your clients internal chemistry or anatomy that may not have been visible at the time or you may have achieved results that statistics show don’t stick long-term as clients go back to old habits and behaviors. Yes, research shows that virtually 95% of those you were able to make more fit and less fat probably returned to pre-training weight and conditioning or worse will experience joint degeneration and movement dysfunction as they age. Can we really claim that we are successful?
Much like nutrition in the 1980’s when we told everyone to eat carbs and not fats because fats were the culprit of all weight gain… we don’t know what we don’t know until we start implementing it. It goes without saying that excessive processed carbs appear to be the real nutritional problem and for the most part we made people heavier and sicker with poor advice and bad nutritional practices and in fact still don’t have it right. One size just doesn’t fit all.
The same applies to fitness. An intelligent instructor who cares about giving good advice and coaching to their clients needs to have an open mind that maybe they don’t know everything they need to know. In fact, much of what many fitness coaches learned over the past two decades is continuing to evolve and change and you need to keep up with it to do a quality job. Even more critical to this evolution is that you need to continue learning or you will actually more than likely destroy someone’s health, not improve it.
It happens every day… I witness both faulty programming and wrong nutritional advice based on either antiquated science or just poor understanding of the scientific principles required to practice.
If you want to be considered a professional, if you want to command an adequate wage for your services, if you don’t want to harm your clients… this all has to stop today.
It doesn’t take a 4 year college degree to apply solid science and use consistent and accurate data feedback to give a client a quality training experience. It takes enough knowledge to apply a scientific methodology with modern tools that will help perform analytics and provide recommendations in a manner not previously attainable by any other affordable means. And it takes educating your client to understand the differences between what they choose to do and allow them the ability to learn and apply good judgement as it applies to their health.
Computers are entering the medical, health and wellness fields at a rapid pace as new technology and content is collected and applied in clinical settings. If you are relying on your health practitioner or your health and wellness coach to be able to have a wide understanding of all the body of knowledge in a variety of academic specialties including nutrition, supplementation, human behaviors, movement and athletics just to name a few, then you are asking for an overwhelming amount of knowledge from an individual who can’t possibly study, categorize and apply such a vast body of potential problems and solutions.
Two years ago, IBM announced that Watson had "learned" the same amount of knowledge as the average second-year medical student. For the last year, IBM, Sloan-Kettering and Wellpoint have been working to teach Watson how to understand and accumulate complicated peer-reviewed medical knowledge relating to oncology. That's just lung, prostate and breast cancers to begin with, but with others to come in the next few years). Watson's ingestion of more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, more than two million pages from medical journals and the further ability to search through up to 1.5 million patient records for further information gives it a breadth of knowledge no human doctor can match.
In fact if you decide to study and apply the most current science and methodology, you will likely find some of the things that we as instructors are doing to be archaic and barbaric in approach based on our own ignorances about what is being discovered and applied in the health and fitness field.
For example, our desire to get everyone into a low squat position without first testing for mobility and stability issues as well as potential problems such as genetic hip structure or femoral acetabular impingement (very common among the population) may be putting clients at risk for injury and long-term joint issues such as arthritis and bursitis. A coach that hasn't kept up with this area of knowledge is not a real health and fitness coach but an athlete that drills exercises, a very different and less professional job that will pay less money in the future. In order to be able to charge more for our products and services and pay more to the practitioner we need to upgrade our skill levels.
In Six Sigma Fitness™ and in the health and fitness field in general, practitioners need to have some basic concepts of a client's goals and objectives, what physical/chemical issues they have, what they are safely capable of doing, how to chart a path to progression, which lifestyle habits may be hindering their progress, and how to tie a program together to address these issues and keep them learning and evolving to better health.
One thing we know for sure is that high intensity programs like traditional CrossFit performed 5 days a week continuously is not it. Most of the better programs know this now and are introducing more variation including mind body programs like yoga and stretching to address issues that these programs create. This is where the Six Sigma Fitness™ begins to provide a structure and process to integrate a well rounded program that gives the client what they need when they need it.
The instructor or fitness coach should think long and hard about their client and ask themselves these questions?
Do you know what type of programming would be best for the client? Do they have an issue with low testosterone requiring heavier weighted activities or are they becoming insulin resistant and need to open and create additional insulin receptors and enhance sensitivity, requiring a heavy dose of metabolic resistance training?
What type of movements can they perform safely? Does the shoulder rotate properly in its socket or is it rounded forward from too much pectoral work and possibly an old rotator cuff injury requiring a balanced approach to utilizing more thoracic mobility and scapula stabilization? Or maybe they have a hip impingement limiting squat depth or weakness in the glute muscles or poor ankle mobility causing valgus collapse? Are you making this problem worse by putting a load on it as well before addressing it properly?
If you are grouping clients together in one class of high intensity programming, how do you know at what level of intensity the 47 year old deconditioned female should be performing vs. the 23 year old fire fighter working out next to her? What would constitute an appropriate training heart rate for each of them?
Lastly are they a type “A" personality, with a highly stressful job causing increased chronic cortisol secretion and are you making the problem worse with too much high intensity programming? Should they be learning deep breathing techniques to reduce blood pressure and heart rate? Is their sympathetic system taking over there CNS causing an unhealthy "regular" heart rate variability (HRV) and demonstrating a lack of recovery? Do you know that “irregular” HRV is actually preferred and a sign of a better conditioned athlete? And if so, how do you measure it and what is causing the lack of recovery? Is your client sleeping with the TV on at night interrupting deep sleep cycles or possibly too many late nights of work or too many consecutive days of hard training?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, and or if you don’t understand their meaning or implications, you are more likely than not causing long-term harm to your client’s health. That being said you are also not alone as this is the common state of the industry. Most of the health and fitness industry is in a state of transition from believing and applying the wrong information to trying to figure out what they need to learn and applying better and more evidence based science to their programming.
The Six Sigma Fitness™ methodology is a step in the direction of solving this problem and restoring some intellectual processes to how we approach our health and those of others we may teach.