Helping Australians to choose health

| July 30, 2015

What needs to happen to make Australians healthier? Edwina Griffin wants to see more collaboration between government organisations and fitness professionals to enable a big shift in health.

One of the biggest obstacles to a healthier Australia is time, or lack of it. As a health professional, that is the excuse given time and time again for people’s inability to fit exercise into their daily routine. And as I look at what the average person tries to fit into a day, in most cases it’s a valid excuse.

So why is it that despite huge technological advancements over the past twenty years, today people seem to have less time than ever? I remember conversations in the 90s about all the extra time we would have with the introduction of the worldwide web, better computers and mobile phones. Well, that theory worked out well for us all, didn’t it? Everyone has less time and is more stressed than ever. These technological advancements have created an expectation that we are all contactable 24 hours and if we don’t respond to an email or call within a couple of hours, there must be a problem.

Instead of waking up in the morning and going for a walk or run, the first thing the majority of people do these days is checking their email. The constant pressure to compete in these tough economic times has resulted in many Australians working longer hours at the cost of their health and family time.

So what needs to happen to change the lifestyle of the average Aussie living in the ‘lucky country’? We have the perfect climate, facilities and resources available and yet the national statistics for gym attendance is still below ten percent.

There has been a gap between what the fitness industry has been offering and what the Australian population wants and needs. Finally the industry as a whole is beginning to embrace and recognise the mind-body connection and the importance of addressing the issue of stress and mindset in any lifestyle program. No longer do gyms only offer the aerobics and weight training sessions, it is becoming the norm to offer holistic options such as meditation, yoga and health education sessions.

Collaboration between health professionals is another key that is contributing to better success with client results. Twenty years ago there was a greater separation and competitiveness around different health professionals. Thankfully more and more professionals are setting up in shared spaces and the recognition of different approaches to health is giving better client results.

As science and spirituality are beginning to meet on many fronts, many eastern approaches to health are being embraced by the west and that includes Australia. The benefits of meditation and neuroplasticity can now be measured for not only the physical benefits to the individual, but also for the benefits to local communities and society as a whole. Studies showing crime rates of local communities dropping due to group meditations can provide plenty of reason to budget for these practices in both public and corporate environments.

While the fitness and health industry is gradually shifting for the better in terms of what is provided, we also need to adjust to the changing needs of Australians. The issue of time is something that is not likely to go away in the near future. Hence fitness professionals need to provide more choices in the way we deliver our services. More and more, providing online options and quick workout options that people can do at home or in the office has been a major shift for my business in the past 10 years.  While we still offer face-to-face personal training and group training sessions, many clients now prefer to sign up to our online programs as it gives them the flexibility to train when and where they want and all the resources they need for their lifestyle in one program.

No longer does someone have to go to four different health professionals to set their lifestyle program. Online programs give clients access to expert advice from nutritionists, fitness trainers, hypnotherapists, yoga and Pilates all for the price of one personal training session. I have found people love having meals written up for them and they don’t have to add to their stress by rushing to get to a meditation class, they can listen while sitting on the train. More and more people are requesting online sessions via Skype so they can do a private workout anywhere. My business model has shifted to allow for the changing lifestyles of my clients.

I see the fitness industry as continuing to develop the services we provide in more and more sophisticated ways to meet the busy lifestyles of the average Aussie. More online services and programs and realistic, simple options to meet the average person’s needs. Further conversations need to be had between industry professionals and the average Australian to bridge the gap and continue to understand the market better. Over the past 20 years, despite plenty of research and advancements in knowledge in the fitness industry, the participation levels in Australia have not increased so we still have plenty to learn.

In my opinion, more collaboration between government organisations and fitness professionals is key to enable a big shift in health nationally. Prioritising health and fitness is a choice and so a key element to the success of our industry is to educate Australians from an early age around this choice and the cost of not choosing it. Currently we have an over-supply of fitness professionals in Australia, many gyms are struggling to survive and yet our population is more overweight and depressed than ever. Education in schools, community groups, in state and national organisations will facilitate the changes in mindset, so let’s keep the conversations flowing and empower Aussies to choose health.




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