How the Fitness Industry Fails and What We Can Do About It

 In thoughts about stuff

crossing on log

I admit to having a bias in believing that everyone had access to proper movement education. But my travels and wanderings, which find me teaching (and learning!) all over this country, have made blatant a strong truth. With just a quick glance, it is easy to see how the fitness industrial complex is actually failing in it’s recruitment program, if there could be a case that such a program exists. All I needed for proof at this failure was to spend time with my family.

My brilliant, wonderful kin are part of the 85% of our society that is not involved in movement culture to any degree. So the usual online offerings of, oh, just about any website or video channel (including my own) isn’t going to do much to help them begin their journey. The fitness industry as a whole has no proper welcome wagon, instead believing that shiny new toys or flashy programs are the answer to recruiting the non-movers. Nope. Not quite.

This isn’t news, if you’ve paid any attention to these blog posts (and I don’t blame you if you haven’t). I’ve rambled in length about it. 

A recent play workshop, working on freedom and embodiment through movement. It's no ore silly than picking up heavy stuff, only to put it back down again.

A recent play workshop, working on freedom and embodiment through movement. It’s no more silly than picking up heavy stuff, only to put it back down again.

First, we screw things up by thinking that movement and exercise are synonymous. Exercise is simply movement as a task towards a reward. And therein lies the problem. Our society, which thrives on being as busy as possible (which is not synonymous with productive, but sure looks the part), sinks a lot of faith into this system of sacrifice. Life becomes a simple, yet busy, system of sacrifice and reward, and movement should be no different. Hence we believe that the rewards from movement must only come through struggle and suffering, just like everything else. Fun just isn’t part of the equation.

No wonder, as a culture, we abhor exercise.

Matt db 1

Yeah, yeah, ya still get to lift heavy stuff. Strength is the crucial foundation for movement culture. It just has more faces than we are currently teaching.

So in a small attempt to begin the process of change, I’ve embarked on another video series. This one was inspired by my family and answering their questions about how to approach movement again after substantial periods of time not embracing it. But since trainers and coaches are so busy teaching exercise that they skip teaching movement, this ‘movement introduction’ is not just for beginners to enjoy freedom of movement again. This is also a blueprint for the 15% who are busy exercising already. Ironic, but lovin’ it.

Yup, the fitness industry is actually pretty poor at teaching movement, period. Not just to beginners.

richmond 3 group

My friends at CrossFit Bezel in Virginia are delving into more ways to embrace movement. It was an honor teaching there on a recent workshop tour.

This new video series is about sharing thoughts and ideas for that important part of the 85% who share blood or marriage ties with me. And, of course, it is an open invitation to anyone who finds the fitness industry not quite offering what they’re looking for.

Below is the intro video to this series, meaning it’s a bit long. They get shorter and more specific from here, promise. But I’ve got things to say… you know me.

We really do need to trash this entire industry and start over. This is my small attempt so far. Some basic guidelines of foundation skills that can grow into a thriving movement practice. So here’s a call out to trainers and coaches: please stop feeding the machine, that broken process of just teaching exercise. Find the joy in being a guide through someone’s movement discovery.

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