November 27, 2013 Damon Hayhow

What the Fitness Industry is Really About

For the longest time I despised the fitness industry. I hated it for the way it certified people who had never trained with weights or achieved any sort of athletic accomplishment. I hated that out-of-shape people were given the same formal recognition as World Champion athletes. I hated that the Fitness training course is irrelevant, obsolete and almost cannot be failed. I hated that the Fitness industry shunned intense weight training while promoting rehabilitation exercise to able-bodied people. In short, I hated the institutionalised mediocrity of the Fitness Industry.

But then one day it dawned on me that the problem was actually my misunderstanding of what ‘fitness’ is. Like most people, I thought fitness was all about being in the best physical condition you could be. I thought it was about having an exceptional body and athletic ability.

But fitness is none of those things. Being ‘fit’ is to be ‘adequate’ or ‘suitable’ to perform the most basic functions a human should be able to fulfil. Being ‘fit’ is being able to walk, sit up, throw a ball, crawl etc. ‘Fitness’ is the LEAST a human can be before being ‘unfit’ and requiring rehabilitation. It isn’t about being physically great or even good. ‘Fitness’ is to specifically have no athletic ability whatsoever. Fitness is not something to aspire to. It is something difficult to lose without forceful self abuse and neglect!

Realising what fitness is was hugely liberating. Suddenly the fitness industry made sense to me. Suddenly it made sense why all those personal trainers were prescribing therabands, swiss balls, walking on treadmills, core-stability and other low intensity rehabilitation exercise. Suddenly I understood why Personal Trainers worked in parks doing primary school PE exercise with their clients. Suddenly I understood yoga, Pilates, bosu balls, ab rollers, the endless Les Mills franchises and fitness fads. It is all completely ineffective and inappropriate for creating better bodies because it was never meant to! It was all for UNFIT people to return to the lofty lows of physical mediocrity; the average-ness of being ‘fit’ to function as a human should.

I have realised that there never was a problem with the techniques the fitness industry teaches and promotes for ‘fitness’. In fact, given the disastrous physical state of the majority of Australians, the fitness industry has never been more relevant! The problem is that ‘fitness’ is misrepresented as meaning a great body with solid athletic capability.

I am not the only one who has mistakenly thought that ‘fitness’ was synonymous with ‘body recomposition’. In fact, almost every single person I have ever spoken to – inside and outside of the fitness industry – wrongly considers ‘fitness’ to mean ‘body recomposition’ and athletic capability. Worse still, the vast majority of people I have spoken to have never even considered what the definition of ‘fitness’ might be otherwise!? I cannot think of another aspiration that is so passionately sought yet nobody can even define what it is!?

Unfortunately the fitness industry needs to misrepresent itself to have any commercial relevance. Nobody would pay for fitness if they knew what it really was. Its like paying for air. Its readily available for free. You should be upset if you DON’T have it; not pleased with yourself if you do.

Fitness services also occupy a tiny, commercially-unviable space. Truly sick and disabled people need doctors and skilled therapists. Fit people need Strength-and-Conditioning Coaches to develop greater athleticism and body composition. Fitness professionals are only relevant to the narrow band of people who are unfit, yet well enough not to need rehabilitation. Those people can achieve ‘fitness’ mediocrity in a matter of weeks with need to pay for skilled intervention.

So the greatest fault of the fitness industry is not that its education program is full of content that is obsolete and irrelevant to all of its customers. It is not that the so-called ‘profession’ of Personal Training is one of the most unaccountable vocations in existence with a staggering 95% failure rate at achieving what its customers paid for. It is not that the fitness industry aggressively directs people away from the type of weight training and dietary practices its customers need. No, the greatest problem with the fitness industry is its mendacious misrepresentation that fitness means a lean, muscular, desirable body!

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Damon Hayhow

Damon Hayhow has been in the body recomposition (Recomp) and bodybuilding industry for 30 years as a coach, competitor, gym owner, teacher, sponsor, show promoter, judge and MC. He has won National competitions in both powerlifting and bodybuilding, set world records, and coached others to the same success in strength sport and physique competition.

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Body recomposition diet and training concepts based on logic and reason; not scientism