The Fitness Industry is Dead

Any argument that the fitness industry is dead or even ailing would immediately get shot down in any informed public debate. In my opinion, it’s dead as a doornail.

The financial statistics say otherwise, however. The fitness business is a billion dollar industry. The number of commercial products bought and sold has grown exponentially over the years. Despite an all time low in physical fitness, American spend more money on fitness than ever by a long shot. 

Heck, the era of Prefontaine showed us a fitness that required a stopwatch and a pair of sneakers. Today we’ve got 12 options of DVD sets that will show you how to put on those sneakers and enough watches to circle the globe many times, not to mention Shake Weights & electric shock therapy ab products.

Maybe the numbers say fitness is a booming industry, but I think performance and perception say otherwise. It’s my opinion that the fitness industry is failing more than ever.

What’s the origin of this problem? At the heart of the problems in the fitness world is a deviation from performance. This problem at its core is one of perception. Somewhere along the line, “fitness” became about a certain look. Today, fitness is a certain bodyweight. The understanding is that fitness can be purchased in a product, or two, or three, or four.

What if every gym ad looked like this?

It’s this perception that has been a leech of quality, safety, and performance almost across the board. A perception that deems un-fatness as fitness opens the door for looters in the industry. The most over used title in all of Los Angeles, for example, is that of “celebrity trainer.” Where “trainers” strike gold in a celebrity client, which opens the door for a wealthy career in fitness. Ironically, their role has little, if anything, to do with fitness. Their job? Keep them skinny.  And, trust me.. anyone can keep Gweneth Paltrow skinny.

With this perception of fitness, trainers find themselves having success based on their ability to hold a client roster. Quite often keeping clients happy today means mastering their comfort zone. In other words, trainers get creative in making an hour look and feel like exercise, without ruffling too many feathers. The result? $150 per hour rates to see little or no fitness gains yet remain extremely comfortable.

Berm. Is. Back.

Fitness related products are just as guilty. The perception society has created around fitness rewards an industry of products that use novelty, ease, and comfort as proven selling points. “Just 3 easy payments of $19.99, and just 10 minutes a day for ripped abs.” Statements like this are concrete bits of evidence that the fitness industry has crashed and burned. The fact that those concepts sell (and sell a lot) is proof that fitness is dead.

Fitness does have a saving grace, however. There is hope. And, that hope is performance. The moment public perception moves away from the cheap, fast, aesthetic monster it has created and moves towards fitness as a measure of what people are able to do is when fitness lives again. Performance need not answer to hangers on. Performance has a built in filter for ineffective coaches, modalities, and products.

In my opinion, if we answered to performance instead of making this current nebulous, invalid definition of fitness that is our current master, the fitness industry would have a natural filter for safe, educated, and fit thought leaders.. and followers.  Heck, consumers might even get fit. Until then, the Ab Lounge will make millions and 15 year veteran trainers who lack fitness or the ability to coach it will make a living coaching folks to mediocrity.

Thank goodness that Functional Fitness on the Bluffs is rooted in performance. Training here just makes you look good on accident. Happy training, everyone.

Logan Gelbrich


Thursday’s Workout:

Accumulate a 400m lunge with a partner:
Partner A: 10 Deadlifts (185/135)
Partner B: Lunge for distance

Once, Partner A completes his/her deadlifts he/she will run to relieve Partner B. Upon arrival Partner A, continues his/her team’s lunge, while Partner B runs to complete 10 deadlifts.

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