Getting Personal: Results, Technology & the Future of Fitness
PHA COO Kyle Riley recently spent some time with the team at ExPro in Singapore to discuss the role of personalisation in the fitness industry.
Check out some of the conversation below:
Q: WHY IS PERSONALISATION SO IMPORTANT WITHIN THE FITNESS INDUSTRY?
A: We’ve all had that client that no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to help them get a result. You feel like you have tried everything and nothing seems to work.
For most of our time in the last 50 years, we have been trying to discover the ‘best diet for health’, or the ‘best training protocol for weight loss’. We have been focusing on trying to find the magic ‘one thing’ and neglecting the person doing the ‘thing’ and consequently, we now find ourselves in a position where there is more confusion and conflicting information on health and fitness than ever before.
For example, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is touted as the ‘go to’ protocol to achieve all manner of results. Yet, in a recent review it was found that around 33% of people will have a great response to this style of training, with the remainder having an uncertain response right through to no response or an adverse response. A recent study looking at morning HIIT performed by people with diabetes indicated that it can lead to a worsening of their blood sugar levels, while there were benefits if they performed it in the afternoon….so is HIIT really ‘the best’ training protocol?
The Answer: It depends on the person!
Everyone is unique and everyone has different requirements to achieve results and live in best health. Personalisation shifts the focus away from trying to find the ‘best thing’, away from arguing whether ‘Paleo is better than Keto’, to understanding more about the individual to whom it is being implemented, clearing the confusion and providing consistency in results.
Q: I ALREADY PERSONALISE MY PROGRAMS BASED ON MY CLIENTS GOALS, WHAT AM I MISSING?
A: Whilst the fitness industry has done a fantastic job over the years of personalising programs based on goals, age, gender, exercise history, injuries and even postural analysis, there is more to the story when it comes to what is now possible in the personalised health space.
Personalisation must take into consideration the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to an individual’s unique picture in order to provide the most effective protocol and results.
For example, one study found that you could improve the response rate and results an individual would achieve from an exercise program by matching the training protocol (reps, sets, & 1RM) to their genetic makeup (whether they had a power-based or endurance-based physiology).
Personalisation however, is not just a matter of understanding a person’s genetics. You also need to understand their genetic expression, which will depend on their age, their activity levels, their stress levels, environmental conditions (pollution, climate, seasons). Every part of the environment influences the person, and so the recommendations for health need to account for this in order to be truly personalised and have a better chance of being effective every time!
Q: THAT SOUNDS A LITTLE COMPLEX, HOW COULD I POSSIBLY DO THAT AS A FITNESS PROFESSIONAL?
A: Yes, this is far too much information for any one brain to handle, let alone trying to achieve this with 30 unique clients per week and deliver it in a practical and easy to understand way!
Interestingly, whether you realise it or not you are already attempting this through a trial and error approach. Each time you try something new with those clients who do not seem to be getting as good a result as other clients is an attempt at personalisation, and whilst it might not be the most effective way, at least it is a start.
The good news is, health and fitness technology is now making it possible to provide personalised health assessments, simply and quickly, to help understand a person’s individual needs. From here you can provide specific information on what to eat, how to train, best ways to reduce stress, optimal sleep times and more to achieve optimal results. All based on genetic and environmental information gathered from the client, without the need for invasive testing.
In the future, the utilisation of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and Machine learning, combined with wearable technology will allow such technology to change the program in real time to meet the current needs of the person, based on biometrics, such as HRV, blood glucose scores and more, allowing trainers to make a more informed decision with their non- responding clients, or even prevent it from occurring in the first place.
If you are enjoying this conversation and would like to hear Kyle’s thoughts on the following questions:
- If technology is that advanced, does that mean I am out of a job?
- What should I focus on to future-proof my fitness business?
His ‘Number 1 Tip’ for Fitness Professionals.
Head on over the Expro’s ‘Industry Insider’ for full access here.