The Personal Training Paradox

November 12, 2013

As a personal fitness trainer, it sometimes feels like nobody takes trainers seriously.  And sometimes, it’s easy to see why. 

Studies today show that obesity rates among U.S. adults is continuing to level off after several decades of immense growth.  [Source: USA Today]

In 2012, about 34.9% of the people in this country were obese (meaning roughly 35 pounds over a healthy weight). That is not significantly different than the 35.7% who were obese in 2010. iStock/Thinkstock

Is this progress? Hardly. Such a small dip in numbers is barely newsworthy.  Especially since the drop is just as likely to be due to the fact that a problem can only get so big before it starts leveling off all by itself.

Recently, the Washington Post held a Childhood Obesity Summit in Washington DC to facilitate an open conversation around the topic of nutrition and the politics surrounding childhood obesity. Among the speakers at the event included a representative from the CDC, the Executive Director of the White House Let’s Move campaign, and former Olympian, Michelle Kwan, who now sits on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Unfortunately, there was not a single professional fitness trainer involved with the summit.  This to me made very little sense. But when you look a little deeper you can see why.

The fitness industry has grown tremendously in the past few years, while really only successfully reaching a small group of potential clients.  A message to all fellow trainers: What we sell has to look possible to the average person.

Too often trainers will sell a product that looks too intimidating, too scary, and next to impossible for the average person who is trying to get back in shape (or lower their risk of obesity!).

As fitness trainers we have the ability to start from the bottom up. We have an advantage over policy makers and politicians because we get to spend one on one time with the client.

So let’s keep raising the bar and challenging our clients and ourselves to gain more clients. With this mentality, we may see a fitness trainer sitting on the panel of the Childhood Obesity Summit in 2014.

Jonathan Ross — fitness expert for Discovery Fit & Health and creator of Aion Fitness — was voted Exercise TV's "Top Trainer" and named in Men's Journal magazine's list of Top 100 Trainers in America. His personal experiences with obesity — "800 pounds of parents" — directly inspired his fitness career. His ability to bring fitness to those who need it the most has made him a two-time Personal Trainer of the Year Award-Winner (ACE and IDEA). His book, Abs Revealed, is filled with cutting-edge exercises in a modern, intelligent approach to abdominal training. His leadership and fresh perspectives on fitness earn him praise as a frequent go-to source of credible fitness information.


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