Recently, I had a revelation that technology may save your members' lives. In fact, technology, not exercise, will determine whether or not we are successful in reversing the continuing decline of our members' health in the next 20 years.
My core business revolves around coaching executives and their employees and those with busy lifestyles to find better ways to cope with stress, manage time, exercise and sleep better. In short, my coaches and I try to improve the quality of lives well beyond exercise.
More than 90 percent of the people we work with have cell phones, Blackberries, e-mail accounts and portable media devices that are used both personally and professionally. They provide convenience, peace of mind with loved ones, escape and a sense of control over their lives. More often than not, however, these devices and tools create an out-of-control lifestyle and tether us to almost everything we think is important in our lives.
My revelation came as I was giving a seminar on balance and health to a group of more than 100 executives at a leadership conference. I talked about the importance of integrating exercise into their lives. More than 60 percent of the attendees had lifestyle-related health problems.
Like most conferences, we were cooped up in a dark conference room for 10-hour days while the autumn sun shone brightly outside. I encouraged each of the attendees to take advantage of their breaks by going outside and taking a brisk walk around the building.
As is always the case, the first thing that all of the attendees did during the break was grab their phones/e-mail devices from their leather holsters and start furiously tapping or talking away. If they remembered, a few slugged down a cup of coffee and were still tapping or talking when the next session began. Not one of them took my advice, even those who so urgently expressed the need to change their lifestyles for personal and health reasons.
Over the next year, we will personally coach several of these executives, and our biggest challenge will be getting them to unplug themselves from these devices long enough to go to the health club or take a 15-minute walk in the sun. Even with guidance and accountability, some will not be successful.
Here's something to ponder: If you have children over the age of 10, how successful are you in diverting their attention away from text messaging and communicating with friends and toward any kind of exercise? I'm reminded of the executive I met who has two communication devices — one for U.S. business and the other for international business — a basement full of exercise equipment and a high-end health club membership. He's in his 40s, will likely need back surgery, struggles with a sleep disorder and is steadily becoming obese. He is the rule, not the exception, and we fight the battle between his choosing 30 minutes on his device or his choosing 30 minutes of exercise. I do not see this trend reversing itself.
We would rather take pills, have surgeries and even endanger our lives than strike a balance between technology and health. The best instructors, most effective exercise equipment, and the best amenities and pricing in your health clubs will not change this pattern of behavior.
Our collective mission is to find as many ways as possible to bring business and personal technology into health clubs through the use of machines, wireless Internet stations and personal computing stations. The lives of millions of adults as well as their children may depend on how successful we are in carrying out this mission.
Gregory Florez is CEO of FitAdvisor Health Coaching Services and First Fitness Inc., which was rated as the No. 1 health coaching online training service by The Wall Street Journal. Florez can be contacted at [email protected].