Identifying the Intimidation Factor

In 1993 when I opened Body Elite Executive Training Club in Tampa, Fla., my primary goal was to reduce the intimidation felt by new exercisers and those who had been away for a while-maybe a long while. (Let's be honest, I had just opened, and wanted-no, needed-everyone with a pulse to feel comfortable about coming to my facility.)

By intimidation, I mean feeling overwhelmed by all the new and unfamiliar equipment; entering an atmosphere where newcomers think that everyone except them knows exactly what they're doing; having an image in their mind of "The Body" that they've seen in a magazine or on television and no clue about how to achieve it. The majority of fitness shows (such as those on ESPN) and fitness-club commercial spokesbodies reflect the avid exerciser who commits to a very regimented training program and understands the commitment it takes mentally and physically to achieve such phenomenal results as "The Body."

Most Americans would rather sit back and watch these incredible bodies on television, than work out themselves to try to achieve their own individual success. Unfortunately, the truth-as many personal trainers already know-is that many of these "hot bods" have altered themselves with performance-enhancing drugs and/or cosmetic surgery to create those "perfect" bodies that are so aesthetically pleasing to the viewer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that weight training and aerobic fitness programs can't give your clients a perfect "hot bod," but only a very low percentage of the most genetically blessed can look that good all the time. What professional fitness trainers are up against today is the "real fitness" of a healthy lifestyle vs. the "illusion of fitness" gained through performance-enhancement drugs and cosmetic surgery. We have to reassure clients who are new to training that starting a safe and effective fitness program specifically tailored to achieve their goals will be very rewarding and easy to accomplish, without the intimidation.

As bad as the intimidation factor is for beginners, it can be even worse in corporate America. Workaholics are terrified of breaking their routine of working 12 hours a day, and are even more terrified of an environment where they're not in complete control. Corporate wellness programs for employees have improved productivity for companies and lessened sick days. They have also decreased incidences of strokes, heart attacks, weight gain, hypertension, ulcers and other gastrointestinal diseases related to stress. Still, these programs are the exception, not the rule. That's why trainers should evaluate and educate corporations about the benefit of wellness programs.

In that respect we, as trainers, should vow to evaluate and educate all individuals and help them live a healthier lifestyle-without fear of intimidation.

ChristineDeNovellis is owner of the Body Elite Executive Training Club in Tampa, Fla., and winner of Club Industry's 1999 Entrepreneur of the Year award. She has more than 15 years of experience in designing health and fitness programs, and counts the New York Yankees and other professional athletes among her clients. She can be contacted at (813) 289-2582 or bodyelite@earthlink.net.


Web-Based Personal Training Program

First Fitness Inc. offers Fit-Advisor.com, a Web-based personal-training program for consumers who purchase home fitness equipment from participating manufacturers and retailers.

"The goal of FitAdvisor.com is to improve the chances that customers will use and benefit from the equipment vs. having it end up as a coat rack," says Gregory Florez, First Fitness president and CEO. "Manufac-turers and retailers like it because it improves customer loyalty and helps keep returns to a minimum."

With the introduction of FitAdvisor.com, customers can now receive a complimentary eight-week training program that helps them make exercise a habit.


IDEA Poll Reveals Trends

General fitness is still the main reason why most people seek out a personal trainer, according to a new survey released by IDEA, The Health & Fitness Source. This survey, however, reveals that general fitness has gone beyond isolating specific muscle groups and now focuses on improving clients' lives by incorporating balance, posture and functional exercises into their fitness programs.

One-to-one training for general fitness remains the bedrock of this industry. In addition, IDEA's Personal Training Trendwatch 2000 identified these other trends in the personal-training industry:

* Weight management and request for nutrition information

* Integrating one-to-one with partner training or small-group training

* Specialized services to meet special client needs

* Expanding services and increased revenues

* The IDEA Personal Training Trendwatch 2000 was conducted in November '99 with 13 of the top personal-training businesses in the United States and the United Kingdom.