My Protein Shake Brings All the Boys to the Yard: The Future Model of Success in Fitness and Beyond

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I just polished off my second mass phase shake of the day to go along with Dan John’s Mass Made Simple program. In said shake went two scoops of high calorie protein, some almonds, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and some frozen strawberries. Both the nutrients and the flavors were planned to work in synergy. I thought I would muse over a few items while digesting.

We in the fitness industry have taken lately to proclaiming that we “still have little idea about how the body works” and/or “know enough to know that we don’t know anything,” both of which are part true and part humble brag. I argue that we do know a lot. Those of us who know, anyway. We know that squatting, pushing, pulling, locomotion, and rotation (with a bounty of variations, planes of motion, and angles) are the DNA of good programming and general physical health. We know enough that some of us have changed lives for the better, restoring quality of existence and self-esteem while preventing significant medical complications for clients.

So we know stuff. Good stuff.

People in other industries know some good stuff as well. And they too may claim that their field is at the very forefront of knowing enough to know that they know absolutely nothing. But the something they DO know can help you and it can help me, but we just don’t know it because we are too busy knowing our stuff.

We live in an era of specialization, which is absolutely necessary due to the complexities of all these things we “don’t” know about yet. The only way to capitalize on the advances is to embrace an interdiciplinary model. TED Talks does it, and it is cool to watch, but the concept can and should be used in everyday life.

I recently remarked at an autism conference that we have very good information about the best approaches for education, vocation, behavior intervention/therapy, nutrition, and even physical fitness (no idea who covers that but I’m sure SOMEBODY does) for the autism population. The problem is the rift between access to an utilization of the best information and the people who would benefit most (parents, educators, other professionals). The puzzle piece logo used for autism awareness has dual significance; referring to the puzzle that is the disorder itself and the pieces that must be put together for the best possible outcome. Ironically, in a time when communication is constant, we need to be doing more of it.

Back to fitness, the future success (i.e. respect, understanding, profit, and sustainability) of the industry requires somehow taking all of this good information that we have and figuring out how to convince the general public that the Ab Rocker is the equivalent of Goodstall’s Magic Cure-All Tonic from the traveling gypsy carnival in 1890. Granted a certain degree of critical thinking is necessary, but you don’t see too many door-to-door cure-all salesmen around. Most of them now sell glorified paper towels on TV until they get their tongues partially bitten off by prostitutes.

The slow death of the big box gyms is a good start, but that is a systems issue more than it is an information one. An informational improvement has health insurance companies covering gym memberships and personal trainers because they would rather pay your coach than your cardiologist. The external respect for our industry requires not only acceptance, the “Oh, you’re a trainer, yeah, I should work out more…” conversations that make us secretly want to embrace pyromania, but the local schools agreeing that PE needs to be part of the curriculum because it is inconceivable to cut it. Because you can’t cut math and you can’t cut science and you can’t cut physical education. The fact that they are all completely related is true, but beyond the scope of this manifesto.

And it is not just medical professionals and schools where we must parade our information, but they are two good areas to begin. Yes, I know that there are even fitness sales programs based on recruiting doctors to refer patients to trainers. What we need though is a shift of consciousness and consensus, not marketing tactics. I have this research study abstract in front of me describing how aerobic activities were used to find out whether “exercise” would improve academic engagement in young children with autism. If the researches knew any better they would have used ropes, medicine balls, and sandbags, but they don’t so they didn’t and it sucks.

I don’t even know why NASA had to make one, but from their absolute necessity we have microwaves. And tin foil. And possibly duct tape, though I did not look that one up. From one area of science and progress we benefit on a more global scale. Because the information went beyond the people who rely on it and take it for granted that either everyone already knows it, can’t be bothered, or wouldn’t know what to do with it.

The term “open source” may evoke the term “free,” but this is short-sighted. How many videos and articles have led us to buying new equipment and informational products because we wanted to learn more on top of what we’d been given. I’m not selling the idea that this is THE new way to build your fitness business. It counters the argument that your super secret single-leg training method won’t fall prey to evil copycats if a few people know about it. It is an argument on behalf of sharing more. Even when you think the audience doesn’t want to hear it.

In the age of information there is still much to learn, often from people who are ready to teach. TMI? LOL. WTF. BRB.

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