Fitness is becoming ever more polarized. Will movement fitness methods bridge the gap?

by Ryan Wagner

I find fitness fascinating. I can’t think of any other activity where so many people are tinkering away with their bodies trying to find new ways to lose weight or gain muscle, enhance athleticism, etc. The way some guys will tinker with their Mustang on the weekend, others will be in the gym of their choice trying to devise new combinations to help them meet their goals.

The more successful of these innovators, or sometimes the more adept they be at marketing, soon attract a following. A small group at first, but sometimes swelling to the size of a small army of barbell-crushing-barefoot-paleo enthusiasts.

All of this is great. Pure magic.

Simply because we are at a time where humans have enough free time to allow them the ability to discover new ways to enhance their health – consequently, their quality of life as they grow older.

As great as this is, the fitness adept crowd has unknowingly distanced themselves farther from the overall populace. As we all know, in the United States the so-called obesity epidemic is in full swing. Processed foods are cheap, readily available and therefore, in demand. Coupled with office jobs, desks, chairs, TV, yadda, yadda, yadda, it’s no wonder so many folks are deconditioned to physical activity.

On the other hand, we have Tough Mudder, Ironman, Ultra-marathons, Crossfit, Orange Theory fitness, kick boxing and so many more ways for you to express what you consider fitness. And so what we see today is a disparity in fitness that one could argue mirrors the often lamented income gap in the USA. There are those that are really into fitness and those that are not at all. Where’s the middle class of fitness?

The former is probably you. If you found this blog then you care about your fitness and find it interesting. You crave new knowledge and techniques and genuinely like fitness. It’s a priority for you. Even on vacation.

And on the other hand, is unfortunately a large slice of the United States – those that look upon fitness purely as an obligation or avoid it altogether.

In my own opinion, I think that unless trends change, then this polarization is only going to grow.

However, I am still hopeful. It’s important to be an optimist with this sort of thing. And the one trend I see that has a chance to change people’s mindset on fitness is the movement trend. Movnat and Ido Portal are only two of the major players in this realm. When you begin to search around on the Internet and follow the dirt roads from one blog to another to another, you’ll discover a whole new interesting world of fitness guys and gals doing fun things with movement. Each author and coach has their own flavor (me included), but fundamentally, we are all the same.

The movement crowd is more concerned about how you squat versus how many plates are on the bar.

The movement crowd is more concerned about building strong ankles such that when we accidentally roll them on a hike we are able to walk back out versus waiting for search and rescue to arrive.

The movement crowd is more concerned about knowing how to climb something. Anything. Whether it’s a palm tree for fun or a burning building in an emergency situation.

I could go on and on. And the better movement minds out there can (and are!) writing books on the subject.

But the biggest roadblock facing the movement minded crowd is communication. How to get their idea across. On the surface it seems simple. Movement videos on YouTube are proof that hundreds of thousands of people across the globe are interested in viewing fitness in a more holistic manner.

But here’s the tough part: Many people, not just Americans, like to have their fitness program organized nice and neat. A trainer’s guidance in a box gym works for every day of the week and in all weather. You’re not going to get dirty – a little sweaty, yes – but, not dirty with grass stains or mud. In a word, it’s familiar.

Like all disruptions, whether politics, sports or fitness, change takes a little getting used to. And when people get into movement based fitness, it’s not just new exercises, but a new way to be. You need to be able to look at a grassy park as a playground. Or your neighborhood gym as a tool box.

But if the movement trend continues, I see gyms changing. With luck, gyms will begin to mirror those of late. Gyms where the majority of the floor was open space. True gymnasiums.

What the fitness industry needs is a growing coalition of thinkers, tinkerers, innovators and pioneers that are relentless in their pursuit of serving their clients. Erwan Le Corre and Ido Portal come to mind. As does Gray Cook and Kelly Starrett. But there are many more. In the eyes of trainers stuck in the 90’s, these innovative strength coaches, physical therapists, trainers and bloggers comprise a misfit island of movement gurus.

But the real genius of movement based fitness is that it is playful. And this could prove to be the missing piece that so many deconditioned people need to see.

That being said, I think that there will always be the big box gyms. The resort style gyms with (3) pools and cafes. With spas and salons under the same roof as the elliptical machines and yoga studios.

What next?

So, where do we go from here?

I think we should all keep an eye on the movement trend. There are some great things about it and its success in the long term depends purely on how the gurus and innovative leaders of today can communicate their craft.

What are your thoughts? Will the so-called movement movement be here for the long run? Or is it just a fad?

By Ryan Wagner

Fitness is becoming ever more polarized. Will movement fitness methods bridge the gap? by