by Steve Feinberg
My humble beginnings in this industry were in Kung Fu (Chinese martial arts). Trust me, there is no more stringent movement critic than a SiFu (other than a Russian Ballet master). Every nuance of movement mechanics is CRITICAL (the difference between deflecting a strike and being hit hangs in the balance). A fraction of an inch in either static body positioning or movement pattern summation matters much. Couple that with immersion in strength and conditioning (first ACE PT certification in my early 20's, followed by AFAA GFI and many other specialties to follow over the years), and a conscious movement professional emerges. It's a love affair that I'll never give up, whether it be Kettlebells, boxing, conditioning, massive lifestyle changes, it's all amazing every day. Most important is to affect those on the front lines, which is why I mentor fitness professionals and the driving force behind creating Speedball Fitness--to affect as many apparently healthy bodies as I can in a positive way!
Now let's discuss where the industry is going.
What we see currently is a surge in fitness technology, wearable and visual helping participants (SCW state of the industry and past keynotes ((Fabio Comana, Lawrence Biscontini)) have it’s finger on the pulse of what is out there today) helping consumers to learn more about their effort and expenditure and I expect this to increase for several reasons:
1. Accountability is important, and visibility of overall accomplishment feeds the results-driven consumer. This means that our efforts are quantifiable which is a positive for those methods of delivery that are science based. The instant gratification of information at all times will engage even the most distracted of the general exercise population and it appeals to both people’s basic sense of logic and their “need-to-know.” Combine that with entertainment, especially for the generation raised on digital interactive everything, and it’s a huge win. The “experience” of the Pursuit by Equinox, for example, is an interactive gamified cycling software that projects stunning space age visuals, graphic symbolic representations of the riders participating, and the values of their effort s they work. Then there is the augmented reality side of tech in exercise on the rise.
There is now a partnership with IMAX and a cycling format in development that will show incredible real life visuals and sound that is unparalleled to immerse the student entirely in a virtual environment. You can even dance along with Beto and an entire 360 degree VR Zumba class with the Samsung VR goggles! This is only the beginning.
How does this affect us on the professional side? Wearable & Visual technology provides us with new ways to motivate our participants, new work opportunities, and new ways to bond with our clients and students, or even meet new ones! Wouldn’t you speak with people that you just shared something amazing with in the locker room or in the class itself during one of these cutting edge experiences? A nutritionist in a space age, galaxy themed indoor cycling ride can make new potential business relationships in these cutting edge experiences. How about a massage therapist spending time in a desert themed hot yoga class with current or potential clients? The possibilities of tapping into open minds through the sharing of new complimentary experiences are limitless.
2. Consumer facing fitness tech will also aide in dispelling myths and belief systems about exercise, like “I want to do cardio because I want to burn lots of calories to change my body” vs. the changes in body composition one will see with anaerobic training and moderately heavy resistance work, to pick the easiest example. The hard data will be hard to dispute. For instance, most people will watch themselves transform from well-rounded programming without “getting big,” unless that is their goal. There are SO many examples of these interactions we wish we didn’t have to have with our students, clients, and mentees, in all facets of wellness service provision including
The group fitness industry is catching up to the original research on HIIT and is waking up to the fact that "hard for the sake of hard" or “movement for the sake of movement” is causing more damage than good. Emergency room visits are up 300% in the last decade due to fitness injuries, and this is in direct relation to the trends that have hijacked the general population, largely due to marketing and misapplication of proper research components (Tabata filtering into multiple days a week of training without proper mitigation of stress on participant, impropriety on part of the delivery agents that don't include a well-rounded plan on exercise longevity, etc.), which confuse the public. The idea that these shorter, more intense bouts of the average deliverable HIIT format in the group don’t stack up, in most cases, to the caloric expenditure of its’ steady state cousin or the deficit the average sedentary day worker faces from a metabolic standpoint (Comana).
We are attempting to rectify this as an industry. What we've seen published is a return to LSIS/LSD with spikes of intensity (Fartlek) which is both inclusive and injury-preventative for both PT and group fitness. Methodologies that allow for a wide variety to improve QOM and rhythmic sustained activity (Speedball Fitness, etc.) will be the return to the past and future of long term fitness for all apparently healthy bodies that are medically cleared for general exercise and allow for both movement improvement and provide the atmosphere of success without breaking down the body, with neurogenesis (brain health, growing back grey) as the cherry on top that the non-flowing bouts don’t inspire. What does this mean to us, the wellness professionals in their life?
3. Another reason why this trend will meet the endorsement of wellness professionals is that tech provides shareable data and insures retention and referrals! The information is easy to share, and makes it easy for us to show how effective our influence is!
For fitness professionals, I certainly don’t have to explain to you teachers and trainers how easily this reflects our work toward their daily/immediate and long-term goals. The proof is on their arm, in their smart phone, and sitting in their email daily/weekly/monthly, with beautifully collated summaries and graphs that simplify the process of identifying what is working and how well.
Our goal should be to provide the atmosphere of success for ALL of those who come to us for guidance, and I'm proud to be a part of the future of fitness, which reflects the common sense of the past. Some things work because they work, and will never change because science tells us that they do.