Want Fitness To Be Seen As Essential?
The fitness industry has a reputation problem. We realized that governments and health authorities don’t value our profession in relation to preventative health. It’s heartbreaking and incredibly disappointing.
We have a lot of public relations and lobbying work to do to build our reputation, and we can start here:
In many provinces, states, and countries gyms were amongst the first business to close during the pandemic and the last to reopen. Through my work as VP of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada I spent countless hours trying to contact government officials, lobby for our industry to stay open and get the financial support it desperately needs and try to understand the reasons behind their decision making. I’ll be honest and say that I stopped trying to make sense of the inconsistencies, it wasn’t a worthwhile exercise. Instead, it became noticeably clear that they aren’t focused on preventative health, nor do they understand the key role we play in keeping our communities healthy.
I am a purpose-driven person, and part of that is owning what takes place in my industry. While I’ll continue to lobby with FIC to help government officials understand our value as well as engage in PR for the public to do the same, I’m owning the part WE played in building our reputation.
Since its inception, the fitness industry has been tremendously focused on physical health, and even physique-driven goals. The spaces we create, the staff we hire, the programming we offer, the marketing and images we disseminate, etc., have all led us to this point. We’ve been the “get your body beach ready” people, and we still use it to sell memberships. Our trainers and instructors still coach clients to “earn their carbs or chocolate or glass of Pinot Grigio”. We’ve body-shamed people into joining our gyms and programs, and thereby built a reputation on sculpting bodies. Too many of us are focused on making the fit even fitter.
Our communities need us and we are perfectly positioned to strengthen not only physical but also mental, social, and immune health through fitness. Let’s make it about the lives we save.