The fitness industry is at a crossroads and the decisions we collectively make today will impact our careers in decades to come. The industry as we currently know it draws its business model from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Back then, gyms were largely the domain of men, although there were plenty of exercise studios that catered to women, and exercise goals were commonly cosmetic in nature. The idea of exercise as foundational to health and appropriate for humans of all ages did not come into focus until the late ‘90s, when then Surgeon General C. Everett Koup declared, “Exercise is medicine.”
Despite the fact that we have demonstrated the important role fitness plays in human health, we have failed to establish ourselves as a legitimate arm of the health care community. The problem is a complex one, with many moving parts, some couched in the business model itself. Yet if we are to survive and grow, we must reinvent ourselves in ways that legitimize our practice in the eyes of medical practitioners and insurers. We must agree on industry-wide standards of practice and competency, with mechanisms in place to oversee adherence.
As we strive to obtain our place at the health care table, we face many hurdles, including opposition from physical therapists and the powerful pharmaceutical industry who see fitness practitioners as a threat. Even within our own industry, there are voices of dissent from fitness business leaders who oppose standardization of credentials for fitness practitioners. They argue that our current system of certification is all that is needed for effective practice. Yet there is a gaping difference among certifying bodies and in the quality of certification programs.
Despite opposition, the fitness community deserves to have access to sustainable professional careers. Our practice is the solution to lifestyle-related disorders that the medical industry only treats. As universities churn out more and more degreed fitness professionals, it is up to us to absorb them into our fold in ways that are sustainable, lucrative and rewarding. This can only happen when we as an industry steer our ship toward standardization, licensure and universal competence.
We at W.I.T.S. are proud of our professionals, and we are here to support your growth and professional development with state of the art Certifications and Continuing Education courses. If you don’t yet have your Digital Badge, what are you waiting for? Visit our Digital Badge page and get the ball rolling! If you need more credentials, add a new Certification, or expand your professionalism by visiting our Fitness Business Institute. We highly recommend the courses, Establishing Your Brand and Image; Developing Relationships; Finding Customers; or any of our other great business success courses! To enhance your presence on Social Media, check out our numerous courses about Social Media Marketing.