Special Populations: Helping the Unhealthy Become Healthy

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  • Special Populations: Helping the Unhealthy Become Healthy

There are really two kinds of people in America. Of course I’m speaking in terms of cliches here. But if you are going to reduce it to the lowest common denominator it can seem as though there are two types, one that is fit and healthy and one that is in bad shape. Americans are very lean and healthy, athletic and fitness conscious or they’re not. The former is stereotyped as the "gym-rat" and the latter group as the couch potato.

Now, these are very broad generalizations, but the line between healthy and unhealthy has been marked out in the sand. The largest fitness club marketing opportunities today, in America, are in special populations. These are the set of classifications for people who are unhealthy and not necessarily by choice. The opportunity is in helping them become healthier. It is a market that, as yet is wide open, with few health clubs targeting the special populations group and providing comprehensive services to their specific needs.

If you have a passion for fitness, sports and health you may wonder at the stream of news about these issues that we hear and read on a daily basis. The population of the United States continues to age and we continue to suffer from an epidemic of obesity and its associated ailments.

Clock displaying Time To Health

This presents an opportunity to health clubs and trainers who want to make a contribution to the health of the nation by helping the unfit to become fit and the unhealthy to become healthy. You aren’t going to make the aging young again but you can do a lot to improve the quality of life of seniors and those suffering from chronic ailments by working with them for better health and greater activity.

Seniors and the chronically ill or in pain are not the only groups that can be considered a special population. But their needs are similar to the unfit that need to start at a gentle level of activity before undertaking more ambitious fitness regimes. There is a huge opportunity to expand your health and fitness enterprise to meet this need, if you approach the market with the right resources and training.

What risk might there be? First, you would be working with people who are fragile and limited in their abilities. There has to be supervision by certified staff and trainers. The liability presented by possible actions by well-intended unqualified staff is just too much of a risk to the clients safety and therefore to the club.

The keys to entering the special population fitness market are experience and expertise. This means having professional trainers with special population certification. There is likely to be standardization of the various certificate programs as regulations catch up with the market. In the meantime, it is best to hire trainers who have completed reputable training certification courses.

Some examples of organizations with programs for fitness special populations are American Fitness Professionals and Associates, The American College of Sports Medicine and The National Strength and Conditioning Association, which all have certification specifically for training special populations.

There’s a really big opportunity to expand into this market place. As yet, it’s a market that is woefully under-served. This will, of course, change as awareness grows within the fitness industry community. It’s the type of market that can be very rewarding. After all, isn’t helping the unhealthy become healthy what the business is all about? To work with special populations and helping clients develop strength and confidence is justification in itself. Having trainers in your fitness club who can assess, motivate and train their clients to overcome the ailments of aging, injury and obesity puts you ahead of the curve in helping special populations.

Start thinking today on how your health club could take one step closer to serving the under-served. Soon you will discover what you place into action today, regarding this special population group, will not only greatly serve others but your own business interests too.