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The death of fitness

After 25 years in the fitness industry and having dedicated more than half my life to making people happier, healthier and fitter, I see the ruins of greatness around me, says Donatello Pisani.

The fitness industry is dead! Fitness has failed us all. Unfortunately, what could have been and what really is are planets apart. How can I make such a statement about what I truly consider to be the best job in the world? And what do I expect the PT and coaching community to do about it?

Let’s start off with the why. The sad truth is that, while I am extremely blessed in my career to be involved in changing thousands of lives in amazing ways, I am not the industry. The great coaches we have out there are not enough to make the industry. They are the minority. The horrible reality is that the number of crap trainers outnumbers the great trainers 100 to one – easily.

I see an industry that started out with huge promise – guaranteeing all and sundry an immeasurably better life, adorned with six-packs, amazing butts and better sex – turn into a farce. In an industry of high fivin’ bros, pouting gym babes, flavoured protein shakes, magazine pics Photoshopped into impossibility, studiously chosen selfies, deceitful role models, trainers who couldn’t find their gluteus maximus with a GPS and flashlight, and those damn fitness gadgets that aren’t worth a protein fart, we have sadly lost our way so badly that the chances of finding the way out of the forest are slim (pun not intended) to none.

You’re offended? Deal with it. You beg to differ? Here’s the tuna in your salad …

 

A group of scientists have gone through 10 years’ worth of the UK’s Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) records from 2004 to 2014, looking at over 175,000 cases of obese to morbidly obese folks to see how many managed to return to normal weight, and keep it, over 10 years, checking for irrefutable signs of obesity being dealt with in no uncertain terms. As the CPRD is the largest primary care database in the world, if there’s anywhere that will give us a true look at the health status of the planet, this is it. In the golden age of fitness, this study should guarantee we see some amazing results … right?

So, what were the results of this study? What was the record number of people that regained normal weight in 10 years? Virtually no one did. Just one out of every 1,290 men and one out of every 677 women managed to regain normal weight. In 10 years.

The implications of these results are staggering. You can twist it around any which way you like and give me all the excuses in the world but this means just one thing to me: the fitness industry is of no consequence. It has failed to have any effect on the segment of the population that needs it the most.

If, in 10 years, the industry has helped virtually no one out of 175,000 people regain normal weight and health, then it’s just about as useful as a fork at a protein drink festival. And that’s exactly why we’re in the middle of the most crippling obesity epidemic in human history – and one that’s getting frighteningly worse year after year, with all the associated implications of medical issues plaguing ‘modern’ society in the 21st century.

This cannot be fixed without a deep look at the entire industry, starting from the very top and going right down to the roots: from how trainers are educated by the industry to how they relate to the most important people in their professional lives – their clients. Because we, as trainers and coaches, need to step up to the plate if we’re to bring the industry back to life. And we need to do it right now, otherwise we’ll always be viewed as snake oil salesmen – and people will keep on mistrusting us and just keep on getting fatter and sicker, in a never ending cycle.

Who wants that? I sure as hell don’t. That’s not why I got into the game all those years ago. I love making people the best they can be – and I’ve been blessed to be really successful at what I do. Now, all we need to do is make sure most (all is a bit too optimistic) trainers and coaches bring exactly that to the table.

So, what do YOU think? Are you going to stand up and be counted?

How can we illuminate the darkness?

  • Walk with your client: Everyone needs a helping hand, not a pointing finger.
  • Give them results, not workouts: Stop ‘beasting’ clients – it’s not a personal ego trip.
  • Gym boxes need to go: It’s time to stop leasing out equipment – give me someone who cares any day.
  • Down with the snake oil salesmen: These are trainers who love the mirror more than their clients.
  • No more toys: The gimmicks in the industry need to go too – they give love a bad name.

About the author

 

 

Donatello Pisani is CEO at The BodyForge in Gozo, Malta. As well as being a master trainer and fat-loss consultant, he is an international bodybuilding competitor, nutritional adviser and pharmacist. bfgozo.com