Dear Fitness Professionals,
I am making a plea. Are you tired of not being taken seriously? Are you frustrated with memberships in your gym fluctuating? Does childhood obesity and body image issues drive your desire to make your community healthier? Are you a PROFESSIONAL?
The most important question honestly is the last one. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional please act like one. You don’t see doctors posting blogs or instagram videos about why other forms of medicine are dumb and come to their practice. Why? Because that is about as professional as saying, “I know you are, but what am I?”.
When did the number of your instagram followers become more important than number of people in your own community you could help right now with your talents? Everyone wants to make a living. I get it. But why are we compromising our integrity to win a few extra members in our gym? These are the same members who end up leaving because, “you are not what ‘I’m’ looking for anymore.” Guess what, they aren’t leaving because something is better, they are leaving because you spent more time taking selfies last month than understanding their goals.
Oh, you don’t think you do it? I am an endurance athlete by trade. But I also love CrossFit, yoga, swim, cycling, rowing, hiking and pretty much anything active I can do in the environment around me. But when I walk into gyms as a new person I could retire on the amount of owners and coaches I have heard say, “Don’t run long distance, it just makes you slow, flabby and weak.”
Strange to me because just the other day I ran 12 miles on the trails in Acadia National Park and kept a solid 8 min mile pace, but then headed to the gym the next day and hit a 175# power clean. Weird, that doesn’t sound like someone who is weak to me. That runner that just walked into your gym looking to finally add some strength training and alternative conditioning to their programming, they just found out in under 10 minutes that you are, “not for them.”
Why would you do that? Honestly, if people spent half as much time learning running mechanics as they do olympic lifting you too would get better. But running doesn’t come “easy” to you so you quit. Isn’t that exactly what you are supposed to challenge your members to do every single day. Get outside your comfort zone. Still in various types of gyms you label other forms of fitness as inferior or even down right stupid. This just pushes people away. It reveals your insecurities and exposes your lack of professionalism.
But enough on the running. Let’s get back to why we as fitness coaches need to rise up and set a higher standard. There are as many different types of fitness as there are personalities in this world and I for one as a coach want to embrace that diversity exists. I want my athletes to feel confident that I will do what is in their best interest and steer them the right direction because it is what’s best for them.
You know what else a doctor doesn’t do-- they don’t try to solve all of their patients problems, if there is a specialist that can help. If a patient needs heart surgery, a family medicine practitioner isn’t going to say, “well I did a surgical rotation in residency so I am going to perform your heart surgery.” A patient would look at that doctor and know they are crazy. That is because there is a level of understanding with the process it took to become a medical doctor. But in fitness with so many different certifications and avenues to become a coach it’s much harder for people to really grasp what kind of training we have. So they come to our gyms, studios and facilities looking for answers. So if you don’t have them, refer them on, don’t lie to them or put their interests down.
I will be completely honest and say that I have referred athletes to other gyms, coaches or programs that I felt were a better fit. But that’s crazy, you won’t make any money that way. Correction, I have built trust and community within my circle of fitness professionals and shocker they return this courtesy when they come across a member that might be a better fit with me.
See we can come together and build one another up and truly create a network of fitness that is committed to changing the health and well being of people across the globe so that the 80% of 10 years old who are worried about being fat can start focusing on being healthy and having higher self-esteem and self worth. We can stop posting videos about why you should stop running and just lift weights. You can stop chuckling at the mom who is killing it in Zumba class while you troll social media and pin your favorite Paleo dessert.
Stop putting fitness down coaches, this country more than ever needs leaders and professionals who can make a real change, not just post about their best gym selfie.