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Global Obesity - Are Fitness & Wellness Leaders Mindsets Part Of The Problem ?

I was watching the video below of Sir Ken Robinson's talk on changing education paradigms. It led me to draw some parallels between his views on needed changes in thinking around a broken approach to education and a similar situation regarding wellness and fitness. If you read my posts before, you know I like to write about the future and its promise. I believe the fitness and wellness industries must play an important role in that future. You see we increasingly hear of crises we face every day as nations and as humans. There is the  recent economic crisis and the growing climate crises. We also know we face a global health crisis and it isn't getting better; despite all of the growth of the fitness and wellness business our world is getting less well. The World Health Organization predicts there will be 2.3 billion overweight adults in the world by 2015 and more than 700 million of them will be obese. Something, therefore, isn't working and this is what Robinson's video alludes to in general about education. The problem is fundamental: but why ?

The cost of providing health care now and increasingly in the future is bankrupting our economies; this is irrefutable and the rise of the global poor is only exacerbating the situation as obesity rears its head across the world. I won't even touch upon the diminished quality of life factors and impact on productivity.

This is a dilemma. We all want progress but we must acknowledge the consequences this progress creates. Interestingly the origins of all of these significant crises are the same. These challenges go unsolved because of their source. To change requires doing things differently; to innovate fundamentally; to change how we educate, manufacture, govern, and in the case of the fitness and wellness industry, help people be well. You see the way its being done now does not work - the evidence is undeniable.

Innovation is hard because it means doing something that people don't find very easy. It requires challenging what we take for granted, things that we think are obvious. The great problem for any reform is the tyranny of common sense. Things that people think, "Well, it can't be done another way because that's the way it's done." One of my favorite quotes is that of Daniel Boorstin who observed, "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. And therefore the fundamental barriers to progress in this regard are mostly the leaders of the very institutions created to forward their initial cause. Therefore I'd ask, is our industry, fitness and wellness, part of the globesity problem ? Is our thinking getting in the way of the solutions ?

What do you think ? Is the Fitness Industry , the Wellness Industry, contributing to the global obesity problem ? Why or why not ? Contact me, Bryan O'Rourke and share your views on this please and watch the video below for perspectives on how irrelevant mind sets are THE problem for education. The parallels are obvious to me - are they to you ?

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Reader Comments (2)

Hi Bryan,

Great post and parallel. Here's my thinking as someone who has the opportunity to work in health and wellness in the US and Internationally. In the US, we're using an outdated health/fitness business model, similar to education. We've not kept up with the changing landscape on either so now we're behind the eight ball. Outside the US, in many cases they have less education and health fitness resources but make more effective use of those resources, studying trends to see where 'things' are heading to make appropriate changes.

In Education, we're way behind many countries outside of the US. People outside of the US speak multiple languages (children and adults) & for the most part and know more about current events in the US then I would venture to bet many that are actually living in the US. Our curriculum delivery model is outdated and the kids are tuning it out. We're reducing school days and school hours, serving substandard food (though we've seen research on it's impact on learning, attention, etc) and eliminating physical activity as health in children declines at record levels. I sit on the Education Cmte for the Metro Atlanta Chamber as I know that it's very easy to point out problems, it's harder to be part of the solution - involvement is how you begin to shift systems.

Health and Wellness. We've been missing the boat sticking with this fitness model vs health model - business as usual right? As we've been operating under this premise, the population health needs have changed and we've not changed with them. From one of my favorite movies, Back to School, 'there are 2 types of people in business, the quick and the dead'. The idea that we get a big box, brick and mortar, fill it with the latest treadmills, ST equipment, hire some newbies to fill shifts and open the doors for them to come spilling in are gone. Ages, health status, time constraints, needs of members have changed. Technology has changed. I just ordered a Garmin 405cx Forerunner and CAN'T wait for it to get here, many clubs aren't figuring out how to incorporate this technology into programming and their operations. Technology has to be included, health has to be focus vs. fitness, collaborations within the medical community is important. Outside of the US, Singapore Health Promotion Board is amazing. They've got active Twitter, FB, very interactive website, apps, strong community initiatives and they're a tiny country, they get it. In (not so) short, just because something was effective in the past, doesn't mean it will be effective for the future. The question is who will be the quick and who will be the dead in the fitness industry.

November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly Iftner

Holly, well put and your observations on Singapore's Health Promotion Board given us a blue print for how things can be. Excellent and thanks !

December 7, 2010 | Registered CommenterBryan K. O'Rourke

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