Have an Opinion and Back it Up with Facts

 In Managing Your Business, professional development, Uncategorized

Thomas Plummer is an ikon in the fitness industry for those who have indulged in the business components of fitness business as a craft. He recently authored an article in Club Insider where he declared seven “sacred cows” in the fitness industry that need to die.

What he did was stir up controversy and get the attention of the owners, managers and investors who read the rag. They likely are the culprits of still using some of those cows he referred to decades after their inception. And yet, Plummer also blindly and in sweeping blanket statements generalized himself just as he was pointing out the fitness clubs are still generalizing about the best ways to service individuals.

Circuit training he points out is a sacred cow. He’s most likely referring to the era where that meant a machine weight room set up where one individual moved from machine to machine according to a light or sound signal and possibly did a lap around a small track in between. Circuit training in the new millennium still exists, however, and with strong reason. When exercises within a circuit are selected based on individual need and used in a manner to keep heart rate elevated slightly even recent research shows that appropriate selection of weight results in lower blood pressure, decreased percent body fat, adherence, and cardiovascular fitness.

Long slow cardio is another target of Plummer’s sacred cows. There again he’s wrong. It needs to be a solid part of any complete exercise program, simply not the only part. As much as there are those who believe going long and slow is the key there are those who read interval training at higher intensities is the key and are doing only that each and every time they exercise. Also a sacred cow. We need to prescribe exercise like any coach would for an athlete. You need to use all speeds and vary the systems you challenge over the course of a week.

Packages and sessions are a sacred cow in Plummer’s opinion as is the one-on-one training formula. I disagree strongly on that point. One-on-one should always be the prerequisite to admittance to a group training program. Short term it will be successful done in the masses. Reality is that this is not PERSONAL training. We become a different type of ‘big box’ and try to cater to too many different body types, conditions, and needs within one session. Injury will happen. You can either cause it or prevent it. Get the money up front and put a large group of people into a group setting and you’ll be a part of the problem not the answer. Teach them first how to use correct technique, how to modify for their needs and you’ll create loyal exercisers. The other way you create job security for physical therapists and we’re hearing that more and more every day.

Mr. Plummer has good points and they should get us all thinking. But if you aren’t applying them in your own business and observing first hand how they affect your customer and what the truth is about the needs of the people not of statistics, you’ll go wrong every time.

Plummer’s article claims that clubs are too dumb to get it. Clubs don’t figure things out, that’s true, Mr. Plummer. People figure things out for the people they serve. You can have a strong opinion and lead people because they’re dying to follow someone with a strong voice. But you’d better be doing the thing you’re advising other people do rather than consulting with the experts about statistics.