Friday, July 17, 2009
Image by Natalie Maynor.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post comparing the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Certified Exercise Physiologist (CEP) designations with the Can-Fit-Pro Personal Trainer Specialist. The crux of my argument was this - the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology designations certify that your personal trainer has post-secondary education in Sport Science, specific core competencies, and a designated scope of practice, while the Can-Fit-Pro certification can be had by anyone who passes a 2-day course.
Can-Fit-Pro has a monthly newsletter, to which I recently subscribed. The Can-Fit-Pro certification is still quite common (I even briefly considered it myself), so I thought it would be interesting to read the information that they are sharing with their members. I received their latest newsletter last week which contained two articles, both of which left me speechless.
The first article was titled Grab a Healthy Bite (I summarize below, but do yourself a favour and click the link to get the full effect). It begins thusly:
Do you have weight loss goals? Are you achieving them? Do you find yourself cruising down the grocery store aisles, wondering what you should place in your cart and what you should leave out? Here are some of the most ideal must-haves every shopping cart should have!
The rest of the article consists of nothing but a list of foods. I'm not kidding. Here is a brief taste:
Top five carbs and whole grains
Multi grain cereal
Multi grain cereal
The "article" also includes the top 5 veggies, fruits and proteins, before concluding with the following statement (followed by a pitch for their upcoming convention):
Shop wisely and eat healthy to achieve and sustain a balanced diet. You’ll notice improvements in your skin, teeth, hair, mood, and overall well-being.
Are they actually saying that if I eat more beans and other "top foods" (in apparently any amount, and independent of other lifestyle factors), I will notice improvements in my mood, skin, teeth, hair, and overall well-being? Because that's what it sounds like to me. What type of bean? String beans? Fava beans? Funky purple beans? And how does weight loss, which is featured prominently in their introduction, fit into the equation? The entire article consisted of nothing but a list of 20 random foods, with no information on why they are the "top 5" in their category, no information on how much to consume of each, no information on who this information applies to (athletes? obese individuals? healthy vs diseased populations?) or links to any further information to try to piece together what they are trying to say. A less useful list would be difficult to imagine. And this is from the group that "certifies" most of the personal trainers in mainstream Canadian fitness clubs.
While the first article was mildly amusing, the second (Bootcamp Your Butt into Shape) was more frustrating than anything else. In it, author Bev Isla discusses the benefits of fitness "Bootcamps", and interviews bootcamp expert Deanie Blaine. Bootcamps involve strenuous exercises which are typically performed outdoors (you often see these taking place in parks during the summer), and in general I have no problem with them. But Ms Blaine makes some rather lofty claims that I'm not sure bootcamps can live up to:
According to Deanie, “[if you attend bootcamps] two times a week you are going to see a little bit of a change in your body whether it’s weight loss or more strength.
Exercise is critical for long-term weight loss. But two sessions a week are not going to do it. Especially when those sessions involve strenuous strength exercises, which may build muscle just as much as they burn fat. But here is what really frustrates me - exercise is amazingly good for the body whether or not you lose weight. And by telling people they might lose weight when they almost certainly won't (unless they make other long-term lifestyle changes), many will get discouraged and even quit because they have failed to reach their weight loss goal despite the fact that they were experiencing tremendous health benefits. Overselling the benefits of minimal exercise with respect to weight loss is a bait-and-switch that leaves many people disillusioned with physical activity, and that has certainly contributed to the extremely low levels of physical activity in our society. It's an easy trap to fall into, and we have probably even done it here (hopefully not since our early days). Exercise is critical for long-term weight loss, but it needs to be consistent, performed several times a week, and in concert with other lifestyle changes - merely going to a bootcamp twice a week is not going to cut it.
Quite a newsletter, no? It is frightening that some personal trainers may actually read this information, and pass it along to their clients. There are enough obstacles for people trying to live healthy lifestyles as it is, uneducated (or mis-educated) personal trainers shouldn't be one of them.
Enjoyed this story? Share it with your friends by clicking the buttons below!
To get future posts delivered directly to your email inbox or to your RSS reader, be sure to subscribe to Obesity Panacea.