You are on page 1of 13

Smidt 1

Laura Smidt
Instructor Bradley
ENC 2135

The Fitness Community: A Research and Application to College Students

Detrimental motivation encompasses that which is meant to motivate an individual to
push themselves, but in turn has a negative effect. An example, would be the social media site
and app Instagram. On Instagram there are accounts dedicated solely to fitness. These accounts
upload photos and videos of individuals ranging from fit to muscular individuals. These images
are meant to inspire the followers of these individuals to become more fit and healthy and are
meant to encourage people to push themselves to become the best version of themselves.
However, this type of motivation can become very detrimental to any individual who follows
these accounts. It can become detrimental in the sense that when someone is going to the gym
and working hard to achieve their goals, but see no immediate results; they can become
disheartened and lose motivation when looking at motivational images of men and women
with athlete and model type bodies. It becomes easy to give up and let their goals fly away. This
type of motivation is an issue within the Fitness Community.
The Fitness Community is a community of individuals who care about their health and
fitness. There are several different branches within the community. These branches include but
are not limited to the YMCA, University and College Recreation Centers, The Olympic Teams,
etc. Each of the branches are composed up of motivated individuals. This group of individuals
seek to influence those around them into living healthier lifestyle as well. They are made up of

Smidt 2

fitness consultants, athletic trainers, yoga instructors, athletic coaches, team players, athletes, and
regular gym goers.
A sector of the Fitness Community that focuses on influencing individuals outside the
community are college gyms. For example, at Florida State University, the Florida State
University Campus Recreation which is part of the branch of the fitness community under the
university and college recreation centers, offers different programs for students to become
motivated and involved in. Students are able to apply for a training program in which they
become fitness consultants for fellow students. However there are internal issues within the
community which are noticed from within and without the group.
This community exists to help individuals outside the community by raising awareness of
the benefits of a healthy lifestyle through staying healthy and fit. The ways that these individuals
raise awareness to the community itself is through advertising fitness classes, nutrition lectures
and seminars, and sporting events such as 5k, 10k, half mile, and marathon races. At sporting
events there are always several types of vendors who offer information on the benefits of a
healthy lifestyle along with how to achieve this healthy lifestyle. An example of an event where
these kind of vendors exist is the Atlanta Road Racers 5k and 10k run. The benefits advertised by
the vendors at this 5k offer nutritional protein bars along with pamphlets as to what is in the bars
and why the bars are good for you, massage tables which emphasize the importance of stretching
in order to avoid injuries such as sprains, and gyms will come out and offer classes for training to
get the body the individuals want.
The individual members within the community are able to teach those who are interested
in a healthier lifestyle the proper techniques to do so. These individuals who are interested can
range from clients of the trainers, family members of the trainers, friends, and anyone who is

Smidt 3

willing to put the work in. Here lies the prevalent issue. Within this community, trainers have an
overall issue in inspiring clients to keep on their course once they start. Another big issue, in the
case of the Florida State University Campus Recreation, is to convince students to join the
community through the various training programs. In an interview with William Edmunds this
issue was both addressed and given much thought to.
Motivation is a key component for individuals within the fitness community to stay
healthy. Without motivation there is no drive to better the body, to push it to its limits. Because of
this, during the training sessions a majority of the trainers get to know their clients in order to
find what moves them and motivates them in life. By finding out what pushes them to strive for
more, trainers are able to utilize this information in order to push their clients to strive for the
best condition they can put their body in. An example of a trainer who gets to know his clients in
order to help them train better is William Edmunds.
William Edmunds is a junior at Florida State University as well as a Fitness Consultant at
the Florida State University Campus Recreation Center with the Leach gym. When asked in an
interview as to what made him join the fitness community through the fitness consultant program
he stated, I wanted to find an on campus job where I could be active and work with other
people. Before becoming a trainer, I was really involved in sports. I played baseball and football
throughout high school so that I would consistently stay active and watch my nutrition. This
goes to say that former high school athletes are more prone to staying fit once they go away to
college. But in joining the program in order to help people has a downside. According to Mr.
Edmunds one thing he dislikes about the program is that each consultant has a limited time
allotted per client. Each fitness coaching session seems as if it is cut too short, especially when
the consultants client is truly enjoying themselves, having a good day, and want to learn more

Smidt 4

about what their body can handle in the gym. In cases like this Mr. Edmunds gets to know his
clients before ever creating a workout program for them. Some of the things he may ask the
client are: What motivated you to come into the gym today? What are your fitness goals?
Are there any prior injuries or problems that you would like to discuss so that I can create the
best fit workout for you? By asking these kinds of questions the right kind of workout best suits
each person. Each individual is different so each workout schedule is different.
On the flipside there are parts of the program that Mr. Edmunds preferred over others.
When asked what he liked most he said, I love that I am able to meet new people every day.
Ever since I joined the program this past fall semester I have not only been lucky to work with
some amazing people but have also helped these people reach their fitness goals. Mr. Edmunds
has benefitted from the program by learning how to teach others. A direct quote from him on the
matter is, It is really important that your client completely comprehends what you are telling
them to do. My clients benefit from this training because while learning the appropriate methods
they also learn the science behind working to stay fit and the importance of proper form while
exercising. This continues with the idea of motivation. How does a trainer keep his or her
clients motivated past that first session? Solutions to this problem could be weekly checkups in
which the client meets with the trainer to discuss progress but this is not always the easiest thing
to do. Clients also have lives outside of the gym and cannot necessarily meet up to discuss
progress week by week. The idea of weekly checkups will feel more like oppression rather than a
help to the clients so the real question is, How can a trainer motivate his clients without
constantly monitoring what it is they do inside the gym?
This idea of importance of form shows up in several different research studies on fitness.
Deborah Blumenthal in her New York Times Article, Staying Fit Safely highlighted

Smidt 5

importance of proper form and technique. Teaming up with the founder of the Institute of Sports
Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hospital, Dr. James A. Nicholas, they stated that the
majority of sports and fitness related injuries that happen from exercising are caused by poor
form, poor technique, and poor instruction. This by far is the most concerning issue within this
community. This issue underlies the reason why so many college students have trouble staying
motivated towards fitness. By using improper techniques it becomes inherently easier to acquire
severe injuries from the simplest of workouts. After several injuries and seeing no results due to
improper form while also looking at images and websites meant to keep a person motivated in
the gym, the students in question lose motivation and work out less frequently. Many of the
methods mentioned by Dr. Nicholas are taught in the athletic consultant program at the Florida
State Campus Recreation center. Referring back to Will Edmunds interview he stated how
important it was for clients to understand and comprehend the proper techniques behind the
exercises because a failure in comprehension could result in injuries such as sprains, pulled joints
and muscles, broken bones, stress fractures, etc. Improper techniques do not just go towards the
exercising part of fitness but to the health and nutrition as well.
Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and
growth which in turn makes it almost more important than exercise. In the article Wildcats
Share Tips for Staying Fit, Healthy team player Brooke Bowen said that excessive alcohol
intake can become a big barrier for college students who want to stay fit and healthy. This
correlates with the information provided by journalist Suz Redfearns in her article Intro to
College Eating; Forget the Freshman 15. A Junior Dishes Advice on Staying Fit, Not Fat, Amid
Temptation from and issue of the Washington Post in September of 2006. Redfearn listed
several problems that prevent college students from reaching their desired goals and it all chalks

Smidt 6

down to poor nutrition. According to Redfearn, each alcoholic drink consumed starts at roughly
100 calories and the common snack foods of students such as Doritos have to have an intake of
700 calories in order to feel satiated. Both are common in a college students diet. The buffetstyle food found in colleges also contribute to the problem. Students look for food choices that
sate hunger, which does not necessarily mean the meal will be nutritional. The higher the calorie
intake, the longer one must work in the gym in order to stay fit and that time is hard to find.
Overall, poor health leads to poor nutrition, which in turn results in a lifestyle that is
neither fit not healthy. According to the Health and Wellness Resource Center at Harvard
University, a persons level of fitness directly correlates with the longevity of a persons life.
Scientists at Harvard conducted a study that proved the direct link between fitness and
cardiovascular problems. If individuals have poor health and poor exercise habits then they are
putting themselves at a higher risk for cardiovascular problems which have been known to lead
to a premature death. Heart and blood vessel disease is the Number 1 killer of both men and
women. Earlier studies showed an association between poor exercise capacity and poor survival
in men with or without heart disease, but this is the first study large enough to examine the issue
in a cross-section of healthy women. (Physical Fitness and Death Rates for Women). With a
large enough sample it was proven by the scientists at Harvard University that the study proved
this to be a problem in both men and women.
Health is a leading motivation for those in the fitness community to stay fit. There are
several interviews with former athletes, current athletes, college students, etc on how ebing
healthy and staying fit is their inspiration for working out. Stephen Cowles interviewed both a
former college athlete and a former college student to see why it was that they believed working
out and staying fit was important. The former college athlete stated that he used working out as

Smidt 7

an outlet for stress. Exercise gives a boost in endorphins making it a natural stress reliever.
Former college student Katy Johnson however had a different outlook on being fit and healthy.
In her interview she said, No matter how bad the economy gets, I won't give up the YMCA.
In the long run, it saves you money, from a long-run health perspective. It's a proactive cost
savings." Her view on being involved in the fitness community is that by staying active,
individuals are able to save expenses on health in the long run because staying fit and choosing
to live a healthy lifestyle is able to eliminate many health problems in the long run. This goes
back to the research studies conducted by the Harvard Medical School and Harvard University.
Harvard Medical School released the article Staying Healthy from the Faculty of
Harvard Medical School on August 22, 2006. It written by its faculty members with the goal in
mind to define what fitness is, how it effects a persons lifestyle, and what kind of benefits are
involved. According to the faculty members of Harvard Medical School there are three basic
levels of fitness. The three basic levels of fitness are low range fitness, moderate range fitness,
and high range fitness. Each level of fitness is determined by oxygen levels. The stronger the
oxygen levels, the stronger the pulse, which in turn means the stronger the heart of a person
which directly correlates with health.
All of the above research reiterates the prevalent issue within the fitness community. This
issue is the use improper techniques, time restraints due to poor scheduling, and poor nutrition.
All of the articles has of thus far been informative genres. An informative genre is a genre that is
meant to inform through facts, studies, examples, and research. The sources that informed about
the issue of improper technique are the interview with William Edmunds, and Staying Fit
Safely by Deborah Blumenthal. The sources that followed up on the issue of improper
technique with poor nutrition are Redfearns Intro to College Eating; Forget the Freshman 15. A

Smidt 8

Junior Dishes Advice on Staying Fit, Not Fat, Amid Temptation" and University Wires Wildcats
Share Tips for Staying Fit, Healthy.
Within the community individuals such as fitness consultant William Edmunds, see the
issue of detrimental motivation as critical. Every gym session with the clients result in the need
to teach proper technique and to advice on healthy eating habit for good nutrition. Trainers and
consultants struggle with this issue because clients need to be inspired and motivated to live a
healthy and fit lifestyle. The issue of time constraints on the trainers and consultants result in less
time for them to properly and instruct clients in hopes that what is taught is comprehended which
in turn leads to clients looking to social media such as Instagram to see what they want for body
goals. Without proper techniques and good healthy eating habits, these goals are unattainable
which causes clients to stop going to the gym because they do not see their bodies changing.
This issue is communicated outside of the community by individuals who want to be a
part of the community but have their own reservations. Outside of the Florida State fitness
community is Elizabeth Wright, a student at the University. In her interview Miss Wright was
first asked how she viewed the fitness community. Her response, Well I believe that there are
different levels. There are those who take it too far on an extreme level by eating, sleeping, and
breathing the gym and then there are those who value their bodies but balance the gym with a
normal lifestyle, goes on to say that the individuals of the community itself can be off-putting
when they preach their beliefs to everyone around them. When asked for an example of
something off-putting about fitness community individuals, she said a good example would be
the Instagram handles @DoYouEven, @!FITNESSINSPIRATION, and @bossgirlscertified. All
three of these handles are users who are trying to motivate others into being fit and healthy,
however all of the images rather than showing transformations or techniques, show perfect

Smidt 9

bodies. Ms Wright said, Its hard to stay motivated when I see these perfect bodies and it feels
like these people live in the gym. I dont want to live in the gym and frankly I dont have the
time to do so. I want to be fit and healthy but everyone advertises that you should essentially live
in the gym and thats depressing. I cant stay motivated if the only way to reach my goals is to
live in the gym.
Miss Wright had recently attended a fitness training session with William Edmunds and
highlighted how he made sure to see to it that proper techniques were involved. In her interview
she stated, I had a great time during the training session. My trainer pushed me to better myself
while also understanding my limitations due to a bad knee and a shoulder that pops from socket
quite easily. He helped build a workout that suited my needs while teaching me proper
techniques on exercises that I had been doing incorrectly which in turn relieved stress on my
muscles while also getting a good workout in. He made me feel like I could reach my goals
through a moderate workout schedule that fits into my daily schedule Her motivation to stay fit
benefits her health due to a history of heart disease. By staying fit which as mentioned in the
article by Harvard linking cardiovascular problems with poor fitness, she will be able to lower
her risk of the same problems that run throughout her lineage.
The issue of improper techniques and poor nutrition causes several problems outside the
community. Due to alcohol consumption and poor eating habits, students do not see the results
that they work for. This leads to a problem in motivation. The well known saying: Seeing is
Believing applies in this situation because if results are not seen then there is an inherent belief
that working out is not getting the job of staying fit done. This is reiterated by William Edmunds
interview in which he said, Motivation is really important. Exercising is difficult, and it is
important to have a positive perspective while working out. You reach your goals much faster

Smidt 10

when you have a positive attitude. Another cause of both of these issues is time management.
William Edmunds said that time was hard to come by when he said, Sometime I wish they
would extend the fitness coaching sessions a little longer. Its annoying when you have to cut a
session short, especially if my clients having a good day. Other restraints on time are the college
class schedules which vary from being back to back or having short breaks in between in which
students may try to put in a quick workout without using the proper stretching techniques that
can lead to injuries.
Miss Elizabeth Wright commented on this in her interview when she said, I have
problems staying motivated in going to the gym because even though I want to live a healthy and
balanced lifestyle, my time is very limited. I am majoring in chemistry which is a time
consuming major. I go the gym on campus when I can and attempt to eat healthy but sometimes
it is impossible to do both. Food on campus is on the cheaper and less healthy but on the more
junky side. Its fast and meets the time constraints I have, whereas prepping a healthy meal takes
time I do not necessarily always have. Miss Elizabeth Wright also lives on campus in a dorm
which further causes problems in eating healthy for a good balance of nutrition due to the
limitations that come with campus dorm life. With limited meal plans and no way to cook
healthy, dorm students lack the key ingredient to achieving the body goals they have set for
themselves and Instagram handles that show fit individuals become overwhelming and
discouraging because working out can only do so much for the human body when nutrition is a
key component to the process.
There are several solutions to the issue within this community. The main issue is how to
keep individuals motivated without them losing motivation from lack of results in the first
month. This is not an issue that can be solved solely because it lies within everyone. The best

Smidt 11

solution would be for the individuals to take a picture before they start on their fitness journey
and then as each month progresses, progress pictures are to be taken.

Smidt 12

Works Cited
"The Best in...; Staying Fit." Wall Street Journal (Online)Dec 19 2010. ProQuest.Web. 16 Feb.
2016 .
Blumenthal, Deborah. "STAYING FIT SAFELY." New York Times (1923-Current file): 3. Feb 27
1983. ProQuest. Web. 16 Feb. 2016 .
Cowles, Stephen H. "Staying Fit in Newport News." McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Mar
27 2009. ProQuest. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
"Florida State University Campus Recreation." Fitness & Wellness. Florida State University
Campus Recreation. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <>.
Harvard University. "Physical Fitness and Death Rates for Women." Health and Wellness
Resource Center. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 18 Sept. 2003. Web. 15 Feb.
McMullen, Laura. "College Fitness: 5 Tips for Staying in Shape." U.S. News and World Report.
U.S. News & World Report LP., 23 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
"On Informing People About the Benefits of Joining the Fitness Community and What It Means
to Be a Member with William Edmunds." Telephone interview. 15 Feb. 2016.
"On The Outside of the Fitness Community with Elizabeth Wright." Telephone interview. 15
Feb. 2016.
Redfearn, Suz. "Intro to College Eating; Forget the Freshman 15. A Junior Dishes Advice on
Staying Fit, Not Fat, Amid Temptation." The Washington Post. Sep 12
2006. ProQuest. Web. 16 Feb. 2016 .

Smidt 13

Staying Healthy from the Faculty of Harvard Medical School. August 22, 2006 pNA. Web. 15
Feb. 2016
"Wildcats Share Tips for Staying Fit, Healthy." University WireApr 10 2015.ProQuest. Web. 16
Feb. 2016 .