5 Reasons to Be Excited About the Future of the Fitness Industry

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Growing up, my mother always told me that I had a remarkable ability to spot the good (and bad) in people; I generally could get pretty quick reads on what kind of folks I was encountering, and then choose my friends/colleague accordingly.  As a result, as I think back on it, this is probably why I never had "bad" friends: people who got into trouble or rolled with the wrong crowd.

More recently, my wife has commented on how I always seem to find the good in people. I shrug off not-so-positive nuances in their behaviors and can become friends with just about anyone.  I think this has helped me a lot as a coach, employer, and presenter.

So, I guess you could say that I'm an optimist.  In my eyes, this glass is half full.

This applies to not only my interaction with other people, but also to the way that I view the fitness industry in which I make my living.

Every day, I hear people pissing and moaning about how many things are wrong with the fitness industry:

1. The barrier to entry is too low and most personal trainers suck.

2. Heart disease is still on the rise.

3. People use too many machines and not enough free weights.

4. The functional training revolution has turned many personal training sessions into a circus act.

5. Crossfit butchers exercise technique and ignores periodization.

Cry me a river.  If you're so down on our industry, do something to change it – or just pick a new one.  I've met thousands of trainers over the years, and there is no bigger turn-off to me than when someone goes on and on about how terrible the industry is and how awful the trainers they're around are.  I've also heard people bring it up in internship and job interviews, and it's a huge turnoff that puts them in the "rejected" pile instantly.

As I've said in the past, "small hinges swing big doors," so if you're frustrated with where the industry is headed, start with yourself and what you can change to make things better.  For me, that starts with optimism.  I look at the quotes above and think:

1. That low barrier to entry has also opened doors to some ridiculously outstanding personal trainers who are changing lives every single day.  And, having more terrible personal trainers has afforded more opportunities for others to show just how good they are, comparatively speaking.

2. That means more cardiac rehabilitation jobs are opening up.  Plus, all the research on cardiovascular disease has taught us a ton on how to modify training, nutrition, and supplementation approaches for our otherwise healthy clients.  There's no way that we know as much about low carb diets nowadays if cardiovascular disease and diabetes research hadn't received so much attention and funding over the past 20 years.

3. If other facilities are relying heavily on machines, but I'm not, it's an opportunity for me to show one more stark contrast that makes Cressey Performance training a better fit.  It's one more way for me to educate someone and win them over.


Additionally, the heavy reliance on expensive machines in the 1980s and 1990s likely gave rise to an entire industry of portable training devices like the TRX in the 21st century (remember the old business advice: if you want to be successful, do the opposite of what everyone else is doing).  Were it not for the TRX and other devices that provide similar portability and versatility, we might not be able to pull off semi-private training and bootcamp set-ups on the level that they take place in the fitness industry today.

4. The functional training revolution has also produced some outstanding coaches who effectively bridge the gap between corrective exercise and high performance training.  It's brought about more collaboration among fitness professionals and rehabilitation specialists.  And, on an industry-wide level, it's helped us to inform clients that exercise should enhance quality of life and improve the way you move, not just make you stronger, more muscular, and less fat while you suffer through pain.

5. Crossfit has also created a tremendous camaraderie among thousands of athletes, and motivated loads of people to exercise when they might have otherwise become sedentary.  They've created a competitive outlet for a lot of former high school, college, and professional athletes.  And, there are some Crossfit franchisees who actually do an outstanding job with coaching technique and catering programming to each individual's needs.  You can't just judge them all based on the garbage you see on Youtube.

I could go on and on all day, but the truth is, the folks doing the criticizing often ought to take a look in the mirror, as they're usually in need of a lot of improvements in their own right.  I'm not perfect, and neither is anybody else – and that's a great thing, as we can always find ways to get better.  To that end, in the spirit of optimism, here are five current fitness industry trends that bode well for those of us looking forward to where the next few decades will take us.

1. New fitness research every single day – For the longest time, all researchers seemed to care about was aerobic exercise, but then, in the 1990s, there was a big boom of resistance training research that continues to this day.

It's exciting to be in such a dynamic field, as it keeps you on your toes and guarantees that you'll be constantly improve if you simply attempt to stay up-to-date with new research.

2. Increased communication across disciplines – There are more opportunities than ever for professionals in the health and human performance fields to network and learn from each other, and collaborate on treatments/training for patients/clients/athletes.  Look at professional sports teams; they've gone from just having an athletic trainer in the old days, to now also having strength and conditioning coaches, physical therapists, massage therapists, nutritionists, chiropractors, sports psychologists, acupuncturists, you name it.  This same "team-oriented" approach has extended to the private sector, whether it's under one roof or simply in collaborative efforts in similar geographic areas.

3. Improved business resources – In years past, personal trainers were supposed to work long "floor hours" at big box gyms in the hopes that they could bully gym goers into personal training with them.  It pissed most people off, made the trainer look like a super sketchy used car salesman, and didn't exactly give this fitness professional an opportunity to demonstrate his expertise.  Plus, in the past, people would open gyms simply because they liked to exercise and thought it'd be cool – and most of those operations went belly up pretty quickly.  Nowadays, there are much more solid resources available to fitness professionals if they're looking to do a better job of not only building a business, but managing it.  So, without having the actual numbers in front of me, the success rates are probably higher – especially if you have #4…

4. Sustainability within a niche – As you probably know, I train a ton of baseball players; it's about 85% of our clientele at Cressey Performance.  I'm not sure that this would have been possible ten years ago.  While early youth sports specialization has been a terrible idea in the context of injuries, it has given rise to increased specialization in training to prevent injuries, and management of the injuries that are already in place.  The end result is that it is more feasible for a fitness professional to make a career out of his/her true passion.  In my case, it's been baseball.

5. Accessibility to training information – Let's face it: you probably would have not have heard of Eric Cressey (much less EricCressey.com) if it wasn't for the internet.  I'd likely still be training loads of baseball players in Hudson, MA – but I don't know that I would have as many guys coming from across the country to train with me if it wasn't for the internet.  It's made our expertise easier to perceive, and working with those players has made me a better coach faster.

That same ease of information gathering is available in a wide variety of formats.  In the old days, you had to hit up a library, buy a book out of a catalog, or visit a coach locally to observe.  Nowadays, you can order books, DVDs, webinars, podcasts, and video presentations completely online.  You can easily apply for an internship across the country, email a coach or facility you'd like to visit to observe, or pick out a seminar of interest – and then instantly book a flight, rental car, and hotel to make it happen.  You can hop on pubmed.com and search thousands of journals for specific information you want.  You can read free blogs, newsletters, and articles in areas of interest to you.  In short, you can get better faster than ever before.  A while back, I jokingly tweeted "Using the phrase 'I'm bored' is synonymous with saying 'I'm too lazy to read to educate myself in my free time.'"  The truth is that I wasn't joking, though; you can always be doing something to improve yourself professionally if you're willing to put the time and effort in.

This is one reason why I'm so psyched to be a part of Elite Training Mentorship, the online resource we introduced almost two years ago.

You get frequent updates from several contributors – Mike Robertson, Dave Schmitz, Tyler English, Vaughn Bethell, Steve Long, Jared Woolever, and me – all industry professionals who are running successful facilities.  The information covers several facets of the industry, too. You get everything from videoed staff in-services, to webinars, to sample programs, to coaching demonstrations, to articles from the contributors.  And, you get it conveniently, as you can access it from any computer, iPad, or phone.  There's no need to book a plane ticket, hotel, or rental car like you would with a regular seminar. To learn more, check out Elite Training Mentorship.

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