Introduction to the Fitness Industry

History of the Fitness Industry

With the development of modern innovation, society has become gradually more sedentary. Populations have become less reliant on physical labour for production, and as a result physical activity levels have decreased. This has spawned a reliance on recreational physical activity in order to maintain health and fitness.

Lessons From History

The history of fitness portrays some fascinating themes that relate closely to the 21st century. One commonality is the strong association of military and political might with physical fitness throughout mankind’s advancement. The mind-body concept has had a tenuous development. At times, some cultures prescribed spirituality at the expense of the body where as others, such as Greek society, upheld the ideal that a sound mind can only be found in a healthy body. Another interesting development from history is the concept of exercise for the body and music for the soul. Present day fitness programs have evolved this concept harmoniously, with music being a distinctive component to the exercise experience

This industry has boomed over the past century, especially in 1st world populations.

The Role of Fitness in Society

A particular focus of this industry is on aesthetic improvements related to the following principles:

1. Weight loss
2. Lean muscle gains
3. Improved physical appearance

This focus on aesthetic improvements appeals to the younger age groups between 18 – 40 year olds

A secondary focus of the fitness industry is the effect of improved physical activity on general health and well-being. This has resulted in an older population accessing fitness facilities. This aspect focuses on the following:

1. Treating and controlling current health conditions and diseases.
2. Preventing health conditions and diseases.
3. Slowing the ageing process, and the deterioration in physiological systems.

Current Trends in the Fitness Industry

As stated above, there is a big focus within the fitness industry on aesthetic appearance. This has resulted in the development of the personal trainer and fitness/lifestyle consultant.
These professionals are usually only accessible to higher income populations and are often seen as a status symbol in modern society.

“Exercise is Medicine”

Research proves that exercise has a role in the treatment and prevention of more than 40 chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and hypertension. According to the World Health Organization’s most recent Global Health Risks data (2004) after high blood pressure, tobacco use and high blood glucose, physical inactivity constitutes the 4th leading cause of death globally, with about 3.3 million attributable deaths per year. More recent evidence (2009) using direct measure, rather than survey data shows physical inactivity to be the leading cause of death in the US.
More than half of adults (56%) do not meet the recommendations for sufficient physical activity in the 2008. In a study of older adolescents and adults in the US, participants spent almost eight hours a day in sedentary behaviors, while as much as 36% of adults engaged in no leisure-time physical activity at all. A study in 2008 shows that physical inactivity costs the US Health Care System $330 per person each year, which equals more than $102 billion dollars annually.
40% of US primary care doctors and 36% of US medical students do not meet 2008 federal physical activity guidelines. Physically inactive doctors are less likely to provide exercise counseling to patients and provide less credible role models for the adoption of healthy behaviors. Not surprisingly, only 34% of US adults report having received exercise counseling at their last medical visit.

The Health Benefits of Physical Activity

Research shows that a low level of physical activity exposes a patient to a greater risk of dying than does smoking, obesity, hypertension, or high cholesterol, and for older men, regular physical activity can decrease the risk of death by 40%.
Active individuals in their 80s have a lower risk of death than inactive individuals in their 60s.
Regular physical activity can:

• Reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50%.
• Lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%.
• Reduce the risk of developing of Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40%.
• Reduce the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40%.
• Lower the risk of stroke by 27%.
• Lower the risk of developing type II diabetes by 58%
• Be twice as effective in treating type II diabetes than the standard insulin prescription and can save $2250 per person per year when compared to the cost of standard drug treatment.
• Can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.

Adults with better muscle strength have a 20% lower risk of mortality (33% lower risk of cancer specific mortality) than adults with low muscle strength. A low level of fitness is a bigger risk factor for mortality than mild-moderate obesity. It is better to be fit and overweight than unfit with a lower percentage of body fat. In an elementary school setting, regular physical activity can decrease discipline incidents involving violence by 59% and decrease out of school suspensions by 67%.

The Role of the Personal Trainer

By definition, a personal fitness trainer is a fitness professional possessing the knowledge, skills and abilities for safe and effective exercise and fitness program design, instruction and assistance for the purpose of reaching personal health and fitness goals. A good personal trainer is more recognized as being a real and active part of individual goal setting and achieving. The role that trainers play in the success of their clients is increasingly in the spotlight.
At the baseline, the scope of practice as a personal trainer should look like this:

1. Knowledge of human anatomy and the concepts of functional exercise, basic nutrition and basic exercise science
2. An ability to design individual and group exercise programs tailored to the needs and attainable goals of specific clients
3. An ability to conduct and understand the need and importance of screening and client assessment, initially and progressively
4. An ability to execute individual fitness program design in a safe and effective way
5. A desire to help clients reach their health and fitness goals through appropriate cardiovascular, flexibility and resistance exercise
6. An ability to motivate others to improve their overall fitness and health
7. A dedication to maintaining personal integrity and your own health and fitness

Careers in Exercise and Fitness

1. Health or Wellness Coach

While personal trainers focus mostly on exercise, Wellness Coaching goes beyond personal training. Wellness Coaches look at the big picture, working with clients to develop health and fitness programmes by looking at the obstacles that stand in the way of success. This is often more of a collaborative experience, with the coach encouraging the client to come up with their own goals and ideas.

A Wellness Coach offers advice and guidance about:

• Fitness
• Nutrition
• Weight management
• Stress reduction
• Health risk management
• Barriers to reaching fitness goal

2. Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant

Focuses on developing weight management programmes for clients that cover nutrition, exercise and lifestyle change. You work with clients to overcome barriers to health and fitness, so you’re not just taking clients through workouts and sending them on their way.

3. Group Fitness Instructor

Group fitness is a popular career choice because you can do it part-time and teach whatever kind of class interests you the most. Income will vary depending on where you work and how many classes you teach. Some of the options include:

• Hi/Low Aerobics
• Step Aerobics
• Kickboxing
• Strength Training
• Yoga
• Pilates
• Water aerobics