Just imagine if every person who ever walked into a health club, since the history of health clubs, actually achieved their goals, and improved their wellness.
Isn’t this the very purpose of the health and wellness industry – to provide a vehicle by which people can reach their destinations – to teach people how to achieve their goals in a healthful way – to promote healthy lifestyles?
If this – or rather, if these – are our goals as an industry, why is it program attendance, adherence and drop out rates trump retention; fitness and wellness myths still exist; the word ‘obesity’ has such a common place in our language?
There exists no simple answer to why this common goal hasn’t been achieved, as is the case with most problems. One can point to countless facets both within and outside the industry that have contributed to individuals’ current health states. As a burgeoning wellness entrepreneur – with an un-jaded perception, a passion to learn, and a keen eye for human relations – I believe the difference between fitness and wellness boils down to two things:
Education. Fitness is hopping into the driver’s seat with no license and heading out onto the highway during rush hour for a joy ride. Wellness. Well, let’s be honest, wellness is doing the same thing, with a license. But not quite – let’s take the analogy one step further.
You have your license, and you’re a great driver. One day, your beautiful car decides to stop working, and it’s not because you didn’t fill the gas tank. Which one of the car-parts stopped functioning correctly?
If you haven’t figured out the analogy yet – the car you are driving is your body, and that gas you put in it is the food. And that car piece that isn’t working, that’s your sprain, strain, high cholesterol, low HDL, insulin resistance, frozen shoulder, arthritis…just to name a few. I don’t know about you, but I typically go to the mechanic to get my car fixed. And the mechanic, well he usually visits me at the gym shortly thereafter – our conversation about his health (while the car received it’s hours-long tune-up) provoked him to pay us a visit.
Everyone has their expertise, and no one is an expert about everything.
As we all know, everyone drives differently. This brings me to the second difference between fitness and wellness...
Individualization. Remember that magazine cover, the one where you couldn’t stop staring? You just have to look like THAT. You bought the magazine. You tried the workout inside of the magazine, and bought the supplements your neighbor told you to buy. You’ve been at it for months. The magazine cover hasn’t changed, and you haven’t changed too much either. News flash one – you will never look like that magazine cover. The person on the magazine cover doesn’t even look like the person on the magazine cover. News flash two – if you choose to embark on a healthy path of living, your path needs to be yours! – tailored to your needs, limitations, desires, and schedule. Moreover, the tangible actions you take must be educated!
Certainly the saying that one can only move forward is not true. You can move in a plethora of directions – saggital, coronal, transverse, and everywhere in between. However, I believe this montra to be true: the only time you should look back is to see how far you have come. It is time for science and coaching – biomechanical knowledge and encouragement - wellness, education, and program individualization – to conjoin. So that wellness can be offered to everyone who wants and needs it, not only those who can afford it.
It is time to take what the founding gym class heroes have created, and keep going.
Author: Julia Anthony
B.S. Exercise Specialist, CSCS, NASM CPT