More Than Just a Grind

The fitness industry is exploding and, correspondingly, so are the number of people considering to make it their professional home, as more young adults (and even grown ones with established jobs) realize that a fancy title and a corner office do not determine your worth.

I know this because I was once the professional of another industry, and while I had not yet obtained a corner office, I was climbing the corporate ladder with gusto, enjoying an attractive salary and everything it brings. But despite my ample paid time off, summer Fridays and a growing retirement account, there was a nagging sense that something was missing. And hence began the proverbial search for something “more.”

For me, the foray into fitness was, in many ways, a logical one. A classically trained ballet dancer, movement has been and always will be my language of choice. But my natural inclination for the physical aside, the research I conducted with established fitness professionals (a girl has to do her homework) left me with a very appealing list of reasons to join their forces. It included, but was not limited to, the allure of flexible hours, a very substantial hourly wage, and – of course – the ability to make a difference in someone’s life

It didn’t take me long working in the gym trenches, however, to realize that my experience was going to reflect a different translation of those so-called perks. Like the fact that “flexible hours” means that you work when everyone else isn’t, mainly before dawn, long past happy hour, and on the weekend (something I vaguely remember involving having two actual days off – in a row). And that hourly wage? Well there’s a very good reason it’s so inflated. It’s because you need to subtract health care, taxes and any needed time off from its delusional self.

Lesson learned: Fitness income is far from predictable. It’s as healthy as your clients are, dependent on their vacation schedules and completely a victim to that phenomenon that falls from the sky called snow.

Yet despite the fact that I currently consider it a good day when I actually get to eat lunch – let alone having an actual lunch hour to do so – I am deeper than I’ve ever been in this fitness pursuit. Because I’ve learned that while there’s something intrinsically wrong with our evolving relationship with food and exercise, the very industry I’m a part of and that was put into place to address these issues is also systematically flawed.

It’s not okay that some grown adults find themselves intimidated going into gym settings. Or, that when they work up the courage to do so, that there is not proper support or education provided to guide them through their work. Nor is it okay that price of entry often serves as a hurdle for the individuals who need to workout the most. There are also far few options – despite the presence of endless gimmicks – that effectively provide for those who are pressed for time.

No, it’s not okay that certain segments of the fitness world are less concerned with providing solutions than they are with the bottom line.

So I stay because I feel there are problems to be solved. Because until we address the real issues that are preventing people from getting their sweat on, we are not “making a difference” in enough lives. And, you can call me crazy, but I personally feel that zoning in on needs that aren’t being met constitutes good business sense. Because this is about so much more than providing an experience. It’s about producing results.

Yes, the alarm will go off at a god awful hour tomorrow. But when it does, it will be the idea of fitness not as a luxury but as a resource that will get me to swing my feet to the floor. And if that notion inspires you or even makes you giddy, there’s a job for you in fitness. One that I can promise you will serve as your proverbial “more.”


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