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The fitness industry is often criticized for the lack of competency displayed by many of its professionals. Unlike the allied health fields, there are no regulations defining the different roles of the fitness professionals, nor a required education or practicum common of clinical jobs. Therefore it is ultimately the employer’s responsibility to dictate the competency requirements, as they are the ones who are placing these individuals in the position to serve the public. If an individual works independently then the responsibility falls upon them to become properly qualified for the services they offer. Whether an individual goes through formal schooling and earns a degree, goes the vocational route to become educated enough to pass a valid credentialing exam, or simply goes online and takes any illegitimate certification they are all technically potential hires for fitness facilities. This is where the hiring business needs to decide on the qualifications they will require for job entry and the protocols they will use to develop the new hire into an effective employee.
The Importance of Screening
Think screening and evaluations prior to exercise are simply an annoyance? Consider this: according to a recent CDC report, nearly half of U.S. adults have not been receiving key preventive health services. When someone over age 45 hires a personal trainer to lose weight and “get in shape” the likelihood that they have pre-existing health risks or special considerations is surprisingly high. More concerning is that this risk increases significantly with each passing decade. In fact, most people over 65 have one or more diseases. And while many Americans are not seeking medical assistance in the prevention and treatment of common diseases, even those who are may not be in compliance with the recommended behavior modifications and therapies.
A little Planning Goes a Long Way
We’ve all had days when we’re hungry and tired, short on time, and just want something quick and healthy to eat. Most fitness enthusiasts know to avoid fried foods, oversize portions of bagged carbohydrates, and drive-thru meal deals - so what to eat? The shelves of almost all convenience stores provide the quick answer via an assortment or protein-stuffed energy bars, as has the walk-thru smoothie bars that sometimes dominate the diets of those with busy lifestyles. While by themselves, and at the right time, these foods may serve as decent options; living on protein bars and smoothies is not a good idea. Not only can smoothies and bars get expensive, they’re not often representative of a healthy dietary goal. These foods can be relatively high in saturated fat and simple sugars; two categories of nutrients that most Americans should be avoiding. The label of Powerbar Triple Threat, for example, verifies that the product contains 230 calories while providing 10 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 16 grams of sugar. Many Proteinplus bars contains 20 g of sugar and 20g protein.
Choosing the Right Training Modalities
The proliferation of functional equipment and related devices provide personal trainers with greater opportunities to challenge their clients through engaging activities. These products offer added diversity in movements and oftentimes allow for training in environments that previously presented limitations and obstacles. Fitness entrepreneurs now commonly have a trunk full of equipment that can turn any park or playground into a viable training zone. Suspension devices, battle ropes, kettlebells, and the like all add to the exercise selection both in and outside the traditional gym setting. This is particularly helpful for trainers or clients that do not have access to facilities, or for trainers that schedule clients on Monday at 6 pm.
Popularity of Crunches
While the quest for the highly visible “six-pack abs” is in the minds of most exercisers the likelihood of the achievement is similar to a high school athlete earning a Division I scholarship in collegiate sports. Some elite athletes with the right genetics and work ethic will reach it, but most will not even come close. Part of the mystique behind the attractiveness is the idea that anyone can get lean enough to see the definition of the rectus abdominis. This is evident by the inundation of infomercials touting spot reduction from the latest fitness fantasy gimmick. According to the television experts if you flex your trunk enough times the abs will come right out as inches of fat disappear. While it seems laughable to anyone who is educated, preying on the ignorant is unfair and demonstrates the level of consumer protection afforded to Americans.
Your Friends Made You Fat
According to the reports, it was likely your friends that made you fat, and now your social networking habits may be wreaking havoc on your body image. Researchers at the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore found that 51 percent of Facebook users said that seeing photos of themselves and others on the popular social networking site made them more conscious of their overall appearance. Only 25 percent of survey respondents indicated they are happy with their bodies, and 12 percent indicated they have or have had an eating disorder. The national survey of 600 Facebook users ages 16 to 40 also revealed there are additional issues associated with the popular media outlet.
Slow the Aging Cycle on Strength, Power, and Cardiovascular Fitness
Children and young adults between the ages of five and 20 often participate in sports or physical activity without incorporating training regimens into their routine. Clearly, the body is naturally capable of performing strength- and power-based activities, so why is it so unusual to see a 60- or 70-year-old surfing, water skiing, or mountain climbing. Why don’t we see more older adults playing kickball, basketball, soccer or other activities commonly associated with the youth? Unfortunately, we tend to experience declines in strength and power, but this can be slowed with the introduction of resistance training for older individuals. Activities that promote muscular strength and power can help maintain these important components of fitness and performance, while engaging in frequent physical activity allows older people to maintain their cardiovascular fitness (CRF). And while they may not appreciate it now, optimizing cardiovascular fitness during the early stages of maturation will also benefit the young as they age.
Policing the Training Environment
Travel the country and enter any fitness facility; there are likely two guarantees: the first is the facility will employ professional trainers whose role and responsibility is to provide expert advice and assistance to members, and the second is that a large number of members can be observed exercising with poor form and incorrect technique. Why the disconnect? Professionals trained to teach exercise properly, standing among those who are exercising improperly. Why is it that only a limited number of members take advantage of the certified personal trainers for advice and education? And on the flipside, are there steps fitness facilities need to take to ensure their patrons exercise properly? It certainly is not due to the lack of recognition of the professionals. In addition to the pictures hanging on the wall, most trainers are very noticeable by the distinct badge across the back or front right pocket of their attire. The shirt easily identifies their role and should signal their ability and willingness to assist.
Daylight Savings and Your Circadian Rhythms
Like it or not, most residents of the United States find themselves having to “spring forward” an hour come March. While clocks on the wall are easily changed, the biological clocks that control our circadian rhythms do not adjust as easily. Research suggests these rhythms, which generally take about 24 hours to reset, may take even more time than usual when we lose that hour versus the “fall back” of autumn.
Menu Calorie Counts Legally Compliant but Not as Helpful as They Should Be
In March 2010, the federal government placed a mandate on restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to provide nutritional information to consumers. The federal health reform law requires the restaurants and fast food chains to list calorie data and additional nutritional information for menu items and self-service foods. The obvious idea was that consumers would be able to make educated decisions on the food choices and in effect reduce their risk for western culture disease. A new Columbia University School of Nursing (CUSON) study in the Journal of Urban Health (2012) analyzed the calorie counts for 200 food items on menu boards in fast food chain restaurants in a New York inner-city neighborhood. New York was one of the first cities to initiate a nutrition awareness program in restaurants dating back to 2006. According to researchers, "Although most postings were legally compliant, they did not demonstrate utility." In many cases, the listed individual components require math skills to determine the totals.