I have a dream…ok, I’ll take it down a notch. I do have a vision for the future of the fitness industry and I want to lay it all out before my readers (all 4 of you).
PART I: The history of the local gym and Functional Fitness – where we are now
Historically gyms were created for specific athletes. Boxers had gyms, bodybuilders had some gyms, and other athletes had gyms. Eventually gym and fitness centers hit the mainstream. Some folks trace this back to the late 1940’s early 1950’s in Santa Monica, California. In either case, the 1950’s and 1960’s brought in the mainstreaming of the gym. And now there seems to be some type of fitness facility on every corner, especially if you include the YMCAs that became popular with the Village People song.
You know you just sang the song in your head!
When it comes to what we have available to us, there are very diverse programs throughout the country in the local fitness centers. However, we are still far from where I believe with all my core (pun intended) we need to be. For example, when a person, who knows nothing of fitness, walks into their local gym, they have essentially two options. They can learn how to use the machines and weights or they can learn about the various cardio-based programs. You think weight lifting and cardio work is the best fitness for the masses? Read Functional Fitness Defined and then see if you still feel that way.
Since you either quickly read the free ebook from the link above or you are already understand the benefits of Functional Fitness, we are now going to move forward. I will assume you agree Functional Fitness is the way to go for the majority of people who want to live long, healthy lives and who want the agility, strength, timing, balance, coordination, stamina, power, and endurance to play with their grandchildren and do projects around their home.
The first truly popular Functional Fitness gyms around the United States was Crossfit. Ex Navy Seals (among others) created the program, which helped bring Functional Fitness to the forefront. I was quite excited to see this, however, many Crossfit gyms are still tailoring to the “elite” and many view Crossfit as a sport in and of itself (watch the Crossfit games sometime). Further, Crossfit can be intimidating for many and so the options left are to join a yoga class, Pilates, or go to the local gym for your….yep you guessed it….either cardio program or weight lifting training.
Don’t believe me? Take a survey of the fitness places in your neighborhood. You have a boat load of cardio-based programs such as Zoomba or Spinning or the latest craze. Or you go into other places and it is full of benches, weights, and machines.
I think having options such as Spinning classes available are great. Crossfit gyms are also awesome for elite athletes or those aspiring to be one. On a side note, there are great programs to do at your home such as P90X, or of course, Kemme Fitness. However, this discussion is about the local gyms where folks who don’t have 10 hours a week to exercise want to go. The options are simply not vast and all-reaching. We still are either “pumping iron” or “doing cardio.”
Since we all agree (right?), we know cardio is a great part of a program, but should not be your only goal. We also know that isolating muscles to make them bigger and stronger is for athletes called bodybuilders and should not be the focus for the masses who simply want to “get into shape.” Either you are a bodybuilder, want to be a bodybuilder, or you should not be on the machines and benches!
Since I clearly am not happy with the current state of affairs, what do I have for a vision of the future? Stay tuned for PART II. In the meantime, feel free to leave comments and join the discussion.