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Can-Fit-Pro Says Eating More Beans May Improve Your Mood and Hair

Friday, July 17, 2009 Posted by Travis Saunders
 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
Sweet potatoes
Multi grain cereal
Brown rice

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.


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5 Response to "Can-Fit-Pro Says Eating More Beans May Improve Your Mood and Hair"

  1. Lauri Said,

    The lists of random foods reminds me of the free magazines available at Whole Foods. Titled simply 'Natural' or 'Healthy Eating', they feature pictures of smiling slender models usually in yoga garb holding smoothies under headlines like "Drink your way to thinness and better health!" And I wonder how many people look up from these articles, spy the Jamba Juice bar inside the shop and think the Orange Dream Smoothie(540 cal) is what they mean. And do they realize a vanilla milkshake from McD's has 566 cal?

    I assume the lists make no mention of portion control? One can still eat vast amounts of wholegrains, fruits and vegetables and gain weight.

    Posted on July 17, 2009 at 5:20 PM

  2. sciencebasedpharmacy Said,

    Excellent post and excellent blog.

    Thanks for the link to the Can-Fit-Pro advice. It reminds me back when I was preparing for an Ironman triathlon and I joined a local gym for place to shower and change near my work. The gym offered me a free consultation with one of their personal trainers. (I didn't say I was training 20+ hours per week, and in the midst of triathlon season). He wanted to calculate my % fat so I agreed to caliper testing. Surprisingly, for being 5' 11" and 164 pounds, he said I was slightly obese and needed personal training (3x/ week for 12 weeks, of course).

    He also recommended that I consider drinking unpasteurized milk (huh?) because our bodies "cannot absorb the stuff in the stores". His qualification to be a personal trainer, other than being muscle-bound, was Can-Fit-Pro.

    Ever since then, I've been a skeptic.

    Posted on August 6, 2009 at 9:37 AM

  3. nicolelwt Said,

    Yep, Can Fit Pro certs are a crock. I should know, I have one!

    I took the course so that I could be a run of the mill trainer in my rec center in my spare time. As a researcher for my real job (unrelated to health/fitness), I tend to do a lot of research into nutrition & training anyways, out of interest.

    I'm not really sure many others CFP PTS's do the same -- case in point would be your "muscle bound" trainer, sciencebasedpharmacy. Most of the people in my 2-day course were there because they were either Flex Magazine-toting bodybuilders or women inspired by their trainer &/or personal progress made at the local Curves. No one had formal training in this matter, that's for sure.

    I got the cert for a similar reason: I am an aspiring figure competitor (a notch down from women's bodybuilding) and I love training & nutrition. Sadly I can say I am a "personal trainer," so people tend to listen to me now when I cite John Berardi or Alan Aragon's nutritional advice. I think that is a bit different from touting the latest trends though, like raw dairy or supplementing with mounds of glutamine.

    I specifically limit my clients to beginners, who can benefit from the knowledge that I do have. I would never take on an athlete, simply because I have no idea how to train them!! Not sure how many other CFP PTSs do the same -- especially not the ones who are trying to make a living off of it.

    Just found your blog by the way, via Yoni Freedhoff. Fantastic stuff; I am completely fan-girling for you both right now.

    Posted on October 5, 2009 at 9:25 AM

  4. MsBlaine Said,

    Hey Travis, don't critique an article if you are not willing to read the rest of what's said. I mention in the article that with 2 days a week of bootcamp you will see a little results, I didn't say anything about great results. I also quote that "Going five times a week will surely give you more of a boost than going once a week" so that people understand that there is a range of benefits you are going to recieve by the amount of days you spend working out. Notice I also say "try and incorporate a variety like weight training, boot camps, running, etc, but also include walking, yoga, meditation, a couple days a week as well. This keeps our bodies balanced.” This sounds like a blanced lifestyle to me. To give your clients an 'all or nothing' attitude is going to discourage many people from incorperating fitness into their lifestyles. What about people who work 60 hrs a week, or single mothers, or people recovering from injuries? If they can work out only 2 days a week because of these obsticles then good for them for trying! One day they will increase it when possible. We gotta remember not to judge where people are at in life as we are all at different levels of fitness and lifestyles as well.
    As for CanFit trainers there are alot of us who continue with our education to constantly learn and keep updated. All I can say is that alot of times you will learn more from peronal experiences with clients than you will from school: and what works for one client will not work for another, no matter what is written in the books. Keep an open mind next time.

    Posted on February 8, 2010 at 7:41 PM

  5. Travis Saunders Said,

    Hi Deanie,

    Thanks for commenting.

    I assure you that I read the articles in their entirety :) I only referenced one of your quotes because my issue was with the articles in general, rather than you personally.

    I agree with many of your comments, but I still have an issue with the quote that 2 days of exercise per week could produce a reduction in body weight. I don't think that's a realistic or healthy expectation. If people only have time to exercise twice a weeek they are likely to experience health benefits, but weight loss is not one of them.


    Posted on February 8, 2010 at 10:27 PM


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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


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