Just like most everything else in the world, workout trends change with the times. CrossFit has basically become a household name, but who talks about Richard Simmons or Tae Bo anymore? A few decades ago, they were all the rage. Keeping up with these wild and ever-changing fads is something fitness professionals must learn to roll with.
One minute every client wants to be the thinnest they can be, and the next everyone wants a Kardashian butt. As trainers we have to walk the line of what is “in” and what is healthy (giving them what they want versus giving them what they need). Although at times it is frustrating trying to stay on top of the next big trend, I have the pleasurable challenge of a job that is ever evolving.
In the mid ’80s when I first opened my personal training business, we were in the midst of a time dubbed “the aerobic craze.” This was a spinoff of the 1970s jazzercise craze as was made famous by actress Jane Fonda.
In a sense, this was the beginning of modern group fitness. These were classes held in the gym and taught by a single instructor. I’m not sure if it was the comradery of working out together or the gossip time before and after the sessions that kept the clients coming back, but they did. When I first started my business, one-on-one training—even home training—wasn’t yet popular. Instead, it was something that bodybuilders seemed to have a monopoly on... not something Jessica wanted to do after dropping her kids off at soccer practice.
If we flash forward a few decades, we see fitness start to morph into something more personal. People wanted more one-on-one time and they even started wanting to compete with each other. We eventually reached the era of Fitbit and smart watches that track our movements and calories burned.
Soon, companies like Peloton turned home gyms into something attainable for everyone. There are plenty of smart treadmills and bikes out there that can help people from the comfort of their home. This poses an interesting challenge for me, and all coaches and trainers, as we still want to help clients in our own practice. I have found that even as the times change, one thing does not: people need other people. CrossFit gyms have a cult following, spin classes and Zumba have once again taken hold as clients find they want someone to help hold them accountable.
Something that I have discovered in my decades of experience that helps retain clients is offering things a machine cannot. Along with fitness and nutrition programs, it’s important to offer a smile, a nod, a gentle push, a kick in the butt, a pat on the back, a simple, "Let me show you," and a shared “well done!” That is the power to propel and that power is held by each and every one of us. These things are inviting and help motivate people to live a healthy, happy lifestyle and keep them coming back for many years.
Although times are ever changing, I am sure that the personal training field is here to stay for a long time. We have the ability to be a real human being helping other real human beings achieve their goals, do things they never thought possible, and keep each other moving. There are many predictions on what trends are to come. So, whether it is Ninja Warrior gyms, streaming cardio, the resurrection of Zumba, or whatever it may be, I’ll be ready for it.