I vividly remember sitting in a class at the University of Minnesota during the spring semester of my senior year of undergrad and telling myself, in fact, committing to myself that I would spend my entire career focused on one thing: Bridging the gap between the scientific research/academic community and the practitioner. Stated otherwise, I wanted to close the chasm between what takes place in the world of exercise science and what actually happens with the health and fitness practitioner or facility. Well perhaps I haven’t been very successful.
As I write this, I’m in Vienna at the European Congress of Sports Science, arguably the largest exercise science conference in the world. The conference attracts scientists from across the globe to present research on virtually every topic of sport and exercise science. For the last 12 years, I have also attended every annual IHRSA (International Health Racquet Sports Club Association) convention. This convention attracts thousands of health club owners, managers, personal trainers, and the like; it is undeniably the biggest event in the health club industry.
During my week in Vienna, Brandon Jonker (Discover Strength’s Director of Operations) and I had a great conversation around our realization that he and I might be the only two people on the planet that attend both of these conferences and truly understand the massive and growing chasm between the scientific wing of our field and the commercial side of our field. And what is potentially more alarming is that no one seems to care. The health club industry appears to be completely disinterested in the scientific research on how to make someone more fit, perform better, or become healthier. Concomitantly, the academic exercise science community seems to have little concern for the fact that the vast majority of their breakthroughs end up dying in the labs or corridors of our academic institutions and rarely are applied by fitness professionals or exercisers. There is virtually no synergy between our exercise science community and the health and fitness club industry.
So I haven’t exactly been effective in achieving my career mission. As I write this at 1:30amin Vieanna, at least I can feel good about the fact that our team at Discover Strength has stayed true and in fact we have remained obsessed for 10 years with our Core Value of “Science Based.” We will continue to read the research (in many cases, conduct the research) and most importantly, apply this research to workouts so that we can provide the safest and most effective training experiences for our clients. I can’t imagine it doing it any other way.