Training the “Untrainables”

By Guus van der Meer, Power Plate Founder

Only about 10% of people work out in a fitness center more or less regularly, while approximately 40% of people are simply not interested in sport or exercise. I have christened this group of people, who will not or cannot exercise, the “untrainables.”

What makes someone an untrainable? We’re still not completely sure, but it could be genetics. Recent studies have shown that large groups of people do not have a large amount of the “Sporty Genes” that are found in the 2% of people who are extremely disciplined and determined to stay in shape.*

Fitness makes untrainables heavier. On average, members visit their gym 0.9 times a week. As fitness professionals, we know that this is not often enough to get training results. Yet, untrainables eat more because working out makes them hungry and/or they think they are entitled to a treat because they burned so many calories.

The growth of the fitness industry is inhibited by its instructors. Before you take offense, hear me out. For the most part, fitness instructors are the 2% I was talking about—the fitness fanatics. With plenty of “Sporty Genes,” they have no notion of how untrainables think and feel.

How do we motivate the untrainables? Less focus on training; more focus on treatment. Untrainables will probably get the motivation to train from their doctor, yet club owners and fitness instructors have not used this knowledge in trying to make more people more active more often. Focusing on treatment for untrainables will require health clubs to develop a different strategy, a different concept and a different marketing approach.

*The genetics of exercise behaviour and psychological well-being, J. Stubbe 2006
*Genetic architecture of voluntary exercise, S.A. Kelly et al. 2010

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