So many things that were readily accepted decades ago have been proven wrong today. It is not unthinkable that everything we think we know right now might be proven wrong in 10 years (or even a year from now).
Outdated individuals who remain adamant in preaching a faulty message in spite of proof are guilty of disinformation. This is a hard but necessary stance we must take in order for the industry to gain a recognition of professionalism.
We must be open to the idea that we might be wrong and have the maturity of attitude to accept the new discoveries that are being made. That is how we preserve our efficiency even as we grow. General culture must be educated to accept that change can happen at any given moment.
Most of the time however, this is not the case amongst fitness professionals.
We have too many overzealous proponents of too many differing methods. So much so that a discussion of differing theories can invoke the same tension as would a discussion of religious matters. What is worse is that methods which are not rooted in science and don’t really work are marketed so aggressively that the public actually falls for it. For sham beliefs and claims - not facts.
Because of this, we are still, metaphorically, stuck in the stone age compared to other professional fields such as medicine. Our progress is that of a snail.
40 years ago, if you were to ask anyone the secret to staying lean, their answer would be 'eat less, do more'.
Today, after all the revolution of dieting, exercising, and the advancement of the supplement industry, the general consensus to staying lean still remains 'eat less, do more'.
After 40 years of advancement, one would think it would be so much easier to get fit compared to the days of Arnold Schwarzenegger. That is hardly true however. To look like him, you still have to do the same things he did.
The route to getting fit has never changed! We have merely rediscovered things which already existed in the first place.
Save for several parties who are progressively looking for better ways, we as an industry have actually been going around in circles. But as is the case with innovation, there will always be more failure than success, and there aren’t enough brains devoted to making this business of self-preservation any easier.
So on the front of innovation, we lose out.
Neither can we lay claim on the front of education. Despite our technological advances and living in the age of the Internet, the priority of fitness still remains pretty low in the list for the majority of people. Why is this happening?
Because we have too many people who are focusing on the wrong things. We have so many teachers, each trying to contribute to the world. The problem is that everyone is too segmented for a unified front against the true enemy: ignorance.
People are asking, “Who is right?”, “What is the best method?”. But these questions will not solve the problem. Trying to answer these questions is akin to managing the symptoms of a disease instead of curing it.
For many people, 'research' means Googling a question and sorting out the good articles from bad. Smarter individuals would type out 'scholarly articles for...' and dive deep into reading mode to draw their conclusions.
But the truth is that none of this is enough. More research has to be done. More questions asked. More ideas theorized. More tests. More everything. Which necessitates a whole lot more of money.
And then there are those people whose lives are practically devoted to fighting myths. Their entire career revolves around calling out other people they believe to be wrong. This is sad too. If they are not careful, they may turn into one of those who hold the industry back.
There really is no need to waste effort on disproving ideas and theories that don't conform to our existing beliefs. No need at all to make fun of other people. Instead, what we should do is to focus our collective energies on promoting what we believe is right, while still possessing an open mind to foreign ideas so that we can become agents of change instead of stagnation. Time, and ultimately, results, will allow the best solutions to prevail.
Being humble, open and mature on an industry-wide scale is the first thing that needs to be done in order for us to grow.
And what about all the differing zealots who promote their brand of fitness with cult-like intensity?
Therein lies the second problem that needs to be solved: the utter lack of leadership.
Where we are right now can be compared to the warring times of the Mongolian tribes. We have different tribes doing different different things - using different ways and different cultures. But they all want the same thing: domination.
Perhaps what we need is a Genghis Khan to set things right. An authority for fitness that decides how things should be done. A powerful and respected authority that people go to for the settling of disagreements.
After all, who has time to spend two decades researching papers all alone?
We are supposed to be out there helping people. Therefore, a 'central intelligence' comprised of an elite board of directors (each with their own respective multi-PhDs and whatnot) might be the key.
Except we don't have an authority like this in today’s world.
ACE, ACSM, NASM, Crossfit. These are just some of the names of organisations which are perhaps trying to take on this very important role.
Except there’s one problem: They all have a vested interest in creating a monopoly of the fitness education market.
Their defiant need to spread their own brand of philosophy, and their lack of overwhelming power to completely crush the others into submission have resulted in all of these organisations tied in a deadlock. ACE and ACSM have recently tried their hand in a political move to make coaching illegal unless a trainer possesses an ACE or ACSM certification. They were defeated however when Crossfit successfully rallied the people to go against the act.
This just doesn’t work.
What we need is an organisation completely free from the shackles of the individuals who hold a financial interest in monopolizing the market.
Who knows what form it will take? One thing for sure: it has to happen.
Remember, our goals are ultimately to help people.
The Primer continues.