Changing Perceptions About The “Fitness Professional”
Marco Sanchez recently posted a video on his Instagram asking:
“What can we do to change the negative perception that the public has about Fitness Professionals?”
He was drawing attention to the fact that many people do not look at personal training or strength and conditioning as a “real profession” and that they look at it
My answer to this is two-fold.
1). Stop caring about what other people think about what you do for a living. Are you providing the best service possible? Are you generally happy with your work? Can you support your basic needs?
2). The negative perception of the fitness profession is our own fault. (Warning: Rant to follow)
The industry as a whole is responsible for the negative stereotypes surrounding fitness professionals. Fitness is a funny profession because it lies
Why are doctors highly compensated and well respected for what they do?
1). Their job is high risk.
2). Their job requires high levels of training and precision.
I would argue that the fitness profession carries a moderate risk and those that take their profession seriously have undergone high levels of education and provide a high-quality service. It is the professionals that don’t do those things that are dragging us down.
If we hope to change how people perceive our profession and coincidently how we are compensated for our work we have to carry ourselves in a way that demands that.
It’s the burpees, the silly fitness challenges and the use of sex to sell fitness products and services that make a mockery of
Imagine if your doctor had a pill challenge?
“How many Statins can you take in one day?” Post your pill count and tag us on IG for a chance to win a free prescription!!” #StatinFAM #StatinChallenge
What if your doctor just provided you random treatments that they just thought up or saw on Instagram right before your appointment with no real long term plan for your health?
Would you be more persuaded to take medical advice from an “Online IG Doc” without formal training because they’re hot and have 1.5 million followers as opposed to someone with formal training that was fully dressed and posted thoughtful educational pieces on how to manage your health?
All of this sounds ridiculous but this is the reality in the fitness world.
As preventative health professionals hold much more leverage to impact our client’s long term health outcomes than do traditional doctors. However, as long as we are posting videos of us doing box jumps on to plates that are stacked onto other peoples laps (this is a real thing) and doing moronic burpee challenges then people will continue to see us more as a sideshow circus act than they do a real health resource. If we instead carry ourselves as a part of the medical community, which I truly believe we are the first line of defense, then society will view us differently and compensate us as such.
Don’t pick exercises based on likes and entertainment. Pick them based on effectiveness and safety.
Don’t post videos because
Change how YOU practice and how people perceive YOUR business. Go out of your way to educate others in the fitness industry and help them to become better professionals. It’s our responsibility to hold everyone in our industry to a higher standard.
Listen, I know that to some people I probably sound like a killjoy but it is possible to be a safe, responsible and medical minded fitness professional while also providing a fun and entertaining training experience. The trick is not sacrificing the former for the latter.