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Bringing ‘whole-life’ training to the gym

June 27, 2013

Gyms and health clubs aren’t just about helping members achieve proper physical fitness anymore, they’re about changing lives. According to the American Council on Exercise, one of the biggest fitness trends over the last year has been the public’s need for life coaching in addition to overall improved health, particularly as obesity in America reaches epidemic proportions. “While there is still much more work to be done, we are encouraged by the positive attitude change among consumers, which will hopefully foster important fitness-related behavioral and lifestyle modifications,” Cedric Bryant, ACE chief science officer, said in a statement. “In the year ahead, personal trainers and other fitness professionals will be called upon to provide more coaching focused on overall health and well-being.” In other words, whole-life training. ACE describes this phenomenon as a holistic approach to health and fitness. With whole-life training, fitness facilities provide their clients with personal trainers that will help them improve their lifestyles and educate them about being healthy in all aspects of their lives, not just when they’re at the gym. This will not only mean giving gym members access to commercial workout equipment that will help them achieve their goals, but also staffing a team of wellness coaches, nutritionists, and perhaps even physical therapists and psychologists. In this way, going to the gym is sort of one-stop shopping. Clients can not only get in their workouts, but also make sure they are eating well and maintaining a positive outlook on life. This multidisciplinary approach reinforces the fact that health isn’t just about exercising regularly or having a healthy diet, it’s about conflating the two. The key to whole-life training is to show clients that while what they do in the gym matters a great deal, so do the actions they take in their everyday lives. While they by no means need to pressure themselves into constantly being on high-alert for options that will lead to a healthier lifestyle, there are small changes they can make to improve their well being. For example, fitness facility owners should encourage clients to not only come to the gym regularly and use the commercial fitness equipment, but also to walk or bike to work a few times a week. Or maybe they’ve been darting back and forth between diets, but haven’t managed to hold onto eating habits that are right for them. Encourage them to meet with the on-site nutritionist to develop a plan that will work for them. This holistic approach to health and fitness transforms the gym from simply being a place to workout into a place where clients can feel better about themselves and improve their lives.