The Increase of Entry Level Fitness Knowledge

This week, I’m excited to talk about a topic that should be embraced by all.

The average fitness knowledge among humans is increasing!

Note: We still have plenty of interesting pathways in fitness and plenty of a need for fitness professionals to help people navigate the abundance of knowledge that they can access. There are also plenty of, “What the?” moments that occur in the fitness industry.

Working at an Ivy League institution, I understand that my lens includes students who are thought to be some of the best and brightest in the world. However, this trend is not just contained within a University setting. I believe this trend is viewable across all ages of life.

At the University setting, non-exercise science students are taking a greater interest in training. When I walk around our recreation facilities, I get absolutely stoked to hear people talk about Smolov, Westide, 5x5, California Strength, and other programs that are available. It is a beautiful thing to witness students critiquing each other’s form in Olympic lifts, challenging each other’s beliefs, and pushing each other to be better.  I witness a lot of mediocrity around me on a daily basis, but it is beautifully comforting to see the training environments that are developing at the University level.

A few weeks ago, I sat in awe as I witnessed a general gym goer deadlift  bodyweight+ and then initiate some occlusion training. I had to ask her why she was participating in occlusion training. Her response did not include, “It looked cool.” She talked about how she has read research on how it can help with left to right asymmetry issues, help her recover from injuries, and increase mass without wearing her skeleton down with more load. The fact that she took the time to think about her training to that depth was a breath of fresh air.

Occlusion Training:

 KAATSU/Occlusion Training 

KAATSU/Occlusion Training 


This style of training involves restricting blood flow by 70%+ to a specific area and using 20-40% of a 1-RM load. The reduction of blood flow followed by an increased level of blood flow has been shown to elicit helpful results in muscle growth and injury recovery.

This finding does not just stop at the University setting. People across all age ranges have taken a more vested interest in training. Training has become a much more visible part of society due to social media and other outlets. Also, look at the number of apps and wearables that give real time data. Managed properly, this data unlocks a world that was once only available for the athletic elite. This doesn’t mean everything posted is pure gold; however, we are developing a stimulating environment that is challenge the general exerciser to strive for better. If you ask me, I think life in general needs more of this.

Look around the next time you’re at a gym or out at the local exercise hot spot (shout out to the Rocky Steps). Although you may not agree with each training philosophy taking place, take in what is happening. Communities are becoming deeply rooted with exercise, friends are finding new challenges together, and people carving out their own path in the vast landscape of fitness. I have very strong opinions when it comes to training; yet, I am fully willing to embrace the beauty of this environment.

Shoot, even people at later stages of life are curious on how they can make things better. One of my closest influences is a 75-year-old seasoned warrior. The other day, I received an email from her asking how hip power can help better her day-to-day life. This is epic!

There’s even a crossover effect that is occurring. Yogis ask me about powerlifting. Powerlifters ask me about Pilates. Runners ask me about maximal strength. The playground that is forming is unreal! The thirst for knowledge is blossoming into quite a powerful environment.

What does this mean for fitness professionals?

We must adapt. We must be willing to embrace the development of knowledge. Often trainers, strength coaches, and performance advisers fear questions. The level of information available and the developing curiosity of this field will not accept this. Embrace the tough questions and conversations that tap into more than 10% of your knowledge. Be willing to accept that you don’t know an answer, but then do your homework! People want to know why something is programmed into their training session. Do not run from this! Cultivate an environment of constant learning and growth. This will help everyone sift through the abundance of information in the fitness world.

Fitness professionals will be called upon to develop and implement a higher level of knowledge at all levels. We must also accept the role of being the switchboard for the general population. People will seek guidance. Use your resources wisely to make the best informed recommendations you can. Always be willing to adapt.

What does this mean for recreation facilities?

Recreation facilities must be willing to embrace a much wider range of activity. The definition of recreation is changing, either hop on board or get left in the dust! People are craving more. Attempting to extinguish this flame will cause large scale facilities to crumble. Failing to embrace a style of training doesn’t just cost a facility a member or two. It will cost a facility a whole community that has developed within its walls.

My challenge for you:

Initiate meaningful conversations with fellow exercisers. Look past their methods if you disagree and just hear the thought that they put into their path. You might just get led on a blissful journey involving Smolov, Occlusion Training, and philosophies you never expected.

We still have many problems to fix in the world of fitness, wellness, nutrition, and general health. Take a moment to enjoy the change that is occurring now. Find a way to get involved. Let’s keep the momentum going. 

Posted on March 15, 2016 .