Fitness and performance sports: a mismatch?

Sometimes one has to step back from his her work and environment in order to see things more clear. One of the things I have been thinking about is the growing influence of the fitness-industry on elite sports and the other way around. In my opinion this is a mistake.

The main expertise of the fitness industry is making untrained people move, change their life-styles, or losing weight (mainly fat) and gaining some muscle, not winning Olympic medals or break world records! The expertise of elite sports coaches is to make their athletes break records and make their athletes or teams win medals, not to make the average person fitter or faster. The exercises that Usain Bolt or other competitors of that level in any sports use are not suitable for the average person in the gym, the average bootcamper, or crossfitter.

These exercises are not even designed to make us lose weight, or get into a healthy lifestyle, the goal is different. Running a speed ladder or pulling a sledge along the track once a week will not make you or me any faster, it just has a great entertainment value, or (in German: Beschaeftigungstherapie, in Dutch: bezigheidstherapie).

Your fitness instructor or personal trainer is not elite performance coach, even if he/she pretends to be one

Just like a Turkish get-up will mainly create envious glances in the gym, but does not contribute at all to winning an Olympic medal in any sport (unless of course Turkish get up becomes an Olympic sport).

But the fitness industry is growing, they have to come up with a new fitness gimmick every year, Jane Fonda, Jazzercise, steps, Zumba, Body-pump, Tai-bo, Crossfit, kettle-bells, HIT, you name it.

And they have to sell their equipment, vibration platforms, steps, Ab-trainers, Swiss balls, kettle bells, TRX, foam-rollers, kinesio-tapes, and many more that you will find in the closet, garage or under a bed there months later, only to be replaced by a later (and of course better) gadget.

Absolutely great for the fitness-fan, but if you want to win medals, stay away from these. And if you are not an elite athlete, don’t try Lance Armstrong’s training program, nor Usain Bolt’s exercises, or Mo Farah’s workouts. Go do fitness, (it works for me, I have been doing Buns of Steel since 1987)


  1. Robert Heiduk

    The fitness industry offers exercising as a user experience.
    In elite sports only timed results in major competitions matter.
    Or in German:
    Fitnessindustrie = Erlebnis
    Spitzensport = Ergebnis

  2. David Maris

    I have said to many how blurred the line is between the two industries in Dubai. Every PT is a ‘strength and conditioning’ or ‘performance’ coach. I worry I fall into this category, but I have my British athletics coaching qualification and have been exposed to Olympic athletes in training, which I hope makes me a little of an exception. I agree whole-heartedly with this blog though!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.