Fitness Fads a Trainer Wishes You’d Stop Believing

Like most people in the health-wellness-fitness realm, Long Island City, NY, trainer and owner of Beyond Movement Fitness, J. Betancourt, is a big fan of anything that “encourages people to get moving and thinking more deeply about their health.” But Betancourt is also the first to flag that, in an industry that’s seen explosive growth, there are a whole bunch of fitness “trends” out there that are downright wrong—some of which teeter on being dangerous. Here’s which ones he thinks you should ditch.

Don’t: Believe that everyone is a suitable “trainer”
One trend that has helped the growth of the industry, but is actually dangerous, in Betancourt’s opinion, is the explosive growth of virtual fitness instructors and social media stars as fitness instructors. “A lot of new trainers don’t have the experience to modify workouts for beginners or people with limitations and the workouts they post/stream/list could be dangerous if done improperly,” he says. “They don’t accept any responsibility if people get injured so there’s no second thought placed in asking people to do things they may not be able to handle. Also, there’s a growing number of people becoming fitness professionals. The other side of that growth is that the pool of ‘professionals’ to choose from becomes more and more saturated with people that aren’t qualified to give instruction and don’t understand mechanics/injury. Their lack of experience, understanding and proper training is very dangerous when you consider the position of trust they are placed in by their clients.”

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Do: Get a wearable device
“I love the all the fitness trackers and other wearable devices that encourage movement and mindfulness to our daily habits. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible in this industry and I’m really excited to see where it will lead. There’s testing in ‘smart fabrics’ that can detect the wearer’s heart rate, skin temp, and caloric expenditure just like a watch. The future for this industry looks really cool and I'm anxious to see what's next.”

Don’t: Think you need to leave your house to get in shape
Although “bodyweight training” has been around for thousands of years, its popularity has been peaking as of late thanks to the many bodyweight/sports-conditioning boot camps that are opening up everywhere. “I’m a huge fan of this style of training since its not always easy for us to get away from our responsibilities and make time for the gym. All you need is 6’x6’ of usable space and you can get a great workout, train any muscle group and with any do it at any level of intensity you want.”

Do: Check if your insurance will cover your workouts
Betancourt say that many of his members are getting insurance reimbursement for their gym dues thanks to the shift toward “exercise as medicine” being promoted by insurance companies and other major healthcare organizations. “The fact that they see such a benefit in fitness as to give you back money for working out, only means that more and more people will try to take advantage by joining gyms or private studios.”

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Don’t: Be scared to take a group class for the first time
While Betancourt says the classic large-scale gym will always be around, he sees the “class trend” continuing to enjoy some serious popularity and growth. “People want to work out, they just don’t always know what to do. Group classes are an easy way to get a great workout without having to learn about exercise physiology, nor having to become obsessed with planning a routine. It’s basically a cost-effective way of getting a personal trainer without having to pay for private training. Not to mention that you can make friends and other personal connections with other like minded people in a positive environment.”

Do: Ask your trainer where they were certified
As of right now, Betancourt says the minimum standard of trainer education is set by each certifying agency. “Agencies like NASM and ACSM do a good job of staying up to date with research and offering continuing education, but I'd love to see a little more standardization across the industry. There are some VERY popular franchises and small studios that offer their own certifications, and some of the things they want people to do are just downright dangerous. That’s just a lack of care and research on their parts. If there were someone holding them accountable, I'm sure that the small studio growth we've seen over the past few years will continue for years to come.”

Don’t: Grab that pre-packed green juice without checking the label
This is more food-related, less fitness, but it’s still a big misconception in the wellness world. “Although there’s legitimate science that supports adding natural juices to your diets for proven health benefits, one thing that people need to be conscious of is the amount of sugar in some of the pre-packaged juices. I saw one the other day in the health food aisle of the market that had more than 50 grams of sugar! That’s an insane amount of sugar, natural or not. If you’re making the juice at home and aren’t adding any extra sugar, you should be fine. Just be careful for ‘healthy’ pre-made juices that will just add a ton of unwanted sugars and carbs to your diet.”

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