By Kelvin Everitt, Vice President of Fitness at Millennium Partners Sports Club Management LLC
In an age when any information you could possibly want is at your fingertips, we face the challenge of navigating through all that’s out there. My beginnings as a fitness professional back in the 90s was a simpler time – Facebook was a Winklevoss lawsuit waiting to happen, and indoor cycling was the latest thing in fitness. Can you imagine that “back in the day” many clubs did not even have a designated cycle studio – the bikes were stored in the corner of the main group exercise studio and pulled out for class.
Jump ahead a year or 15 and it’s a new world. From in-home, carpet-shredding programs like P90X and Insanity, to the industrial-style, callous-inducing, gut-wrenching WOD of Crossfit, anyone interested in fitness faces an ever-increasing buffet of programs and systems. Unfortunately, with great variety and complexity comes the problem of figuring out what’s right for you. Interestingly, the key question or requirement of anything fitness has NOT changed since spandex blazed the way for lululemon – “What should I do to get the results I want?”
Depending on who or where you ask this question, the answer can vary significantly. For example, if you ask someone entrenched in a method of Pilates, they may say longer and leaner is the way. If you happen to speak to someone passionate about CrossFit, there’s a chance they’ll be dragging you down to their “box” before you finish your sentence. From indoor cycling evangelists to Barre enthusiasts, you could be told a whole variety of programs and systems are right for you – and you would be told this with a big slice of love.
The love piece is a fascinating addition to the fitness buffet. So much of the fitness industry is driven by passion, and so many consumers of fitness are equally passionate about what they do. This is what drives people to accomplish amazing things – and why you can usually find a passionate debate on the merits of a program at all times.
Passion is vital when engaging in something that’s life-changing, but it can cloud the water when assessing if something is right for you. Passion can quickly lead people down a road where they focus on protecting or defending their opinion. When this happens, it distracts from some of the basic yet incredibly important questions that need to be answered when assessing a program or system:
- Can this or any exercise system be made "right for everyone" or at least for me?
- How do I assess the risk/reward of this system?
- What do people drink from those big, plastic water bottles?
As a consumer of fitness, it’s vital for you to understand there’s no movement or exercise in any program/protocol/system that has not been used before – everything is borrowed. The program is defined solely by the movements/exercises selected and by how they’re implemented.
Each person is unique – a bubbling mixing pot of ability, emotion, life demands, hopes and dreams – which all play a part in how effective a program or system will be for you. While I can’t answer the million-dollar question of what’s the best system for you, I can offer you this nugget of wisdom: Unless someone has met you in person and has built you a program based on YOU, you could still be leaving something on the table.
At the end of the day, whenever Crossfit comes up, you can literally count the seconds before people adopt a defensive stance, regardless of whether they’re pro or anti. Same thing goes for other popular exercise and fitness programs. This distracts from the question of whether any exercise system can be made "right for everyone" and the importance of assessing the risk/reward to the individual participating. If you understand movement, you build programs that are individualized to maximize results – to basically build champions.