This news was posted on Saturday, January 11th, 2014
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The Face of Fitness must change; Into the Future

I hate it when people shine a light on what is wrong without also sharing a possible solution. My last blog mentioned the history of how we, as a society, have gotten so out of shape when fitness was just a way of life 1-2 generations ago. Now it is time to give you my ideas for a more healthful future.
We are at cross-roads in the fitness industry. We can either keep to business-as-usual which evolved from the 1950’s military model of obstacle courses and running on a track, to treadmills, Ellipticals and stationery bikes which took up much less space. They are all boring, leading the exerciser to think only of how much work he/she was doing and how much pain they’re in and only works for the most dedicated fitness enthusiast. But they are a practical and safe alternative to outdoor activities.
Enter the group classes and Wii Fit machines. Much more entertaining and interactive choices to weight and aerobic machines, and are a healthful alternative to watching TV or playing a video games, but they still do not translate to a lifestyle of fitness. Group classes tend to be the fitness choice for women and non-competitive men. The majority of the men in our society seem to need the competition and comparison to others. They need to know how they “stack up”. Therefore, we need to build in such comparisons for this group. Currently, there are very few options for adult competitions. Runners have community “fun runs” or distance competitions organized by various groups, but where are the Basketball competitions, the community swimming contests, or the indoor obstacle course contests for community and fitness members? Not everyone has a runners body and we are missing opportunities as fitness professionals.
I am blessed to live in a state of mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, coastline, and desert all within a 3 hour drive. Therefore, I do my part by organizing hikes around mountain peaks where the vitas are so beautiful that my group doesn’t know how much work they are doing to get there. We go canoing/kayaking and dock on a sandbar for lunch while watching the fish frolic nearby. I know of one trail that takes even novice hikers past 8 waterfalls on a 10 mile loop.
Perhaps you are not lucky enough to live in such an area. Perhaps your options will take more creativity and looking. But I guarantee that everyone who reads this blog will be able to find a place of activity within 50 miles of your home where you can take friends or family to get them active.
Speed walk around a zoo, organize a hike with friends and co-workers in the national park in your state, or at your local national monument site.
Most city parks have climbing walls, skateboard parks, or pools where you can organize a contest. Have participants bring white-elephant gifts (something from their house they have put away for a garage sale they can bring to give-away) as prizes. The winner of the first contest gets first choice of gifts and everyone goes home with one.
Country roads are perfect for bikers. A one-day lunch-in-a-backpacking trip is great in the late spring or early summer. Start planning now. Organize an event around the time of your birthday. That way, people more likely to show up if they believe they are doing their part to honor you. Get your friends to take turns planning their own activities so you don’t have to do all the work throughout the year.
Hosting a Superbowl party? Build in some activity for your guests. Every time-out, everyone gathers to stretch up, then touch their toes, then lunge side to side, then squat up and down from their chair (no chairs on rollers, please – think of safety first), then . . . well, you get the idea. Maybe take turns doing pushups against the wall and see who can do the most.
If you want to get active but are stuck inside for the winter months, organize an indoor game of “Twister”, or Wii Fit, or a race against the clock down a hallway picking up a ball and running back to place it in a cup several times.
Remember, if you make the activity too strenuous you may alienate some of your friends. It should be fun for everyone (or as many as possible) and incorporate one thing they enjoy doing anyway.
An older crowd might want to combine a bridge game with a reward for the winners of reaching up high (even climbing a step ladder if safe enough) to get a basket of treats and a punishment for the losers of doing 5-10 squats from his/her chair (great to build knees and hips).
Younger people might decide to watch a basketball or football game together and everyone (even the women are called out from the kitchen) performs one push-up for each point scored. A three point basketball shot = 3 pushups. A football touchdown = 7 pushups. No matter which team scores, everyone participates.
Fitness centers cannot keep to the 1950 – 1970’s model of fitness if they expect to have an impact on our society. They MUST be the front-runners of change showing people the benefits of an active lifestyle. They must organize activities and contests to show what is possible.
Individuals, too, must also do their part to change our society. If you are already organizing a party, change the focus slightly to include more action. Instead of drinking shots, do pushups. If people want to bring a desert to a potluck dinner, they must also have to organize an activity. If they bring a fruit or veggie plate instead, no activity necessary.
We cannot become a healthier nation by doing the same things we have been doing. The most meaningful gift we can give to our loved-ones is the gift of health. That means we ALL must change.

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