The fitness industry is failing. Or should I say it should at least be doing better. There is one big reason…
Our recruiting program stinks.
Dave Hall will drop this bomb on ya: only about 15% of our culture is participating in movement and fitness. Kevin Geary says only about 1% succeed at making it a lifetime of good choices. Although that second number seems hard to prove, it still behooves us to ask what the heck is going on here?
A mountainous chunk of the info bouncing around right now – the youface videos, the articles on superbadass.org and bloodWOD.gov- is the 15% talking to each other. Heck, it’s happening right here, right now. And that’s groovy, since our tribe needs to share, educate and support each other (remember the three needs of a tribe: communication, equality and sustainability).
But trainers impressing trainers sure isn’t attracting that 85%. And the campaign that is in place to entice this population is more flawed than the Arizona legislature’s idea of “tolerance.”
Here are some ideas…
What if we actually listened to the body?
It begins with replacing judgment with compassion, maybe even an understanding that would empower the 15% as well as the 85%. It is quite tempting to call non-movers lazy or scared. But I’m going to posit a theory…
Bodies understand movement better than brains. Yet brains are what created the fitness industry. Brains are what believe what the industry has taught them movement is supposed to look like (and how much it should cost). But if bodies thought for themselves, so to speak, how do you think they’d perceive what we call ‘fitness?’ Under the assumption that your body would even want to go to a gym, what would that gym look like? The shiny spectacle of the common chain gyms would have NO appeal to your body. Cardio theaters and color coded ‘strength’ equipment are brain candy, but bodies would reject them. Even dingy warehouses with nothing but some bars, bumpers and a pullup station would seem sort of dull.
Our bodies want what we used to call recess. Intensity in fun, challenging forms, and the brain and body would have differing opinions of what this looks like. So my theory is that at least some of that 85% might simply be hearing the muffled cries of their bodies screaming “that’s not what I want!” Don’t write them off as lazy… maybe just perceptive, but lacking real resources.
In my videos and workshops, I ramble on about the child’s mind, this archetypical consciousness where movement is understood, if not completely consciously, to be integral to all processes of the self. Therefore approaching movement as a perpetual student creates greater potential for growth. The child-like approach to movement is curious, creative, explorational and judgment-free. Although the fitness industry does a fine job of treating us like children, nothing about the industry’s presentation actually appeals to the child-like approach our bodies desire.
Even as adults. Heck, ESPECIALLY as adults. Adults in a culture that tries to squelch play somewhere around high school, turning movement into a series of categories, formulas and routines geared towards a superficial product. Maybe some of that 85% can simply sense bullshit.
Yes, laziness does exist. But not physically. Laziness is a brain game, a disconnect from the body. Many friends of mine claim they suffer from laziness. These are artists, parents, writers, professors, musicians… quite productive in many aspects of their lives. They’re not lazy. They’re scared. They suffer a disconnect from their bodies and have yet to been shown the value of movement, or a venue or outlet for which his body finds it appealing to begin the journey.
This is a bummer. Because all that productivity will cease as soon as their bodies give out. Their tribes – families, peers groups, jobs, communities – will lose an important member. The body doesn’t want this. It isn’t lazy. Possibly poorly fueled and tired, but not without the essential desire to participate in life.
But there is a deep psychology in movement, or lack thereof. Which brings us to a huge point…
What the hell has our culture done to create such fear of movement? And why does the fitness industry do far more to perpetuate avoiding movement rather than enjoying it?
Because the industry is brains selling to other brains, not bodies being heard. Therefore it is getting it all wrong. Movement is being sold as categories, sections and trends. From ‘cardio’ to mobility, Zumba to CrossFit, movement has been turned into pieces, parts and genres. But the body doesn’t think that way, so to speak. Although some structure helps us reach goals, dogma can get in the way. Chosen places, correct times and approved movements are doing more to turn movement into a stressFUL experience, the exact opposite of what movement is supposed to do.
Some of that might be the built in politics of an industry.
If ya have an industry, ya have leaders. And leaders have followers. And none of this will truly breed a fun-filled stomping ground for the body. My Facetube feed is filled with industry posts geared towards trainers about being an ‘industry leader.’ Here’s the problem…
A tribe can usually only handle a few leaders, but can have many, many teachers. A leader has followers, a teacher has students. How many followers can become leaders? Very few. How many students can become teachers? All of them.
The 15% better get off our self-centered asses and recognize our potential teacher status. And since every true teacher is perpetually a student, we’ve got to shoulder that empowering responsibility as well. Ya game?
As trainers, we need to be mentors for goal setting. Not our goals. Theirs. Our job is to show them what is possible. We’re allowed to jump and play and laugh and love and dance and sing and rage and climb and fall and swoon and crave and fly. Allowed? We’re supposed to. It is what the body is made for. Consider not denying it.
One of the biggest lessons? Better choices now for more choices later.
I wanna tell everyone they’re beautiful and strong, and I want to start with you. Plans and programs and charts and levels and structure might be clinically proven but what about a simple hello and an open door policy to shine? That might be what the 85% need to get their party started.