Feature Article - March 2007
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Running the Trend Mill

The ever-evolving workout world

By Emily Tipping

Serving the Underserved

According to research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), factors related to social class have a strong influence on people's activity levels. Things like education, family income and employment status all impact whether or not people are more or less physically active.

Previous studies have revealed cultural trends. For example, some research has shown that blacks and Hispanics are more inactive during their leisure time. But these cultural factors are moderated by social class. In fact, the authors of the study say, lower income and lower education attainment likely explain these differences.

"People in poverty are more likely to live in neighborhoods where public recreation is unavailable or dangerous," the study's authors reported. "We also know that wholesome food is likely to be less available or more expensive in low-income neighborhoods, which makes it even harder for the poor and uneducated to make healthy choices."

It is extremely important to develop outreach programs to people in these communities. YogaFit's founder Beth Shaw has implemented several ways of reaching out to the community.

In order to earn a certificate of completion, people participating in YogaFit Teacher Training are required to donate eight classes to people who normally wouldn't get the chance to try yoga, for example.

Trainees in the program have worked with the handicapped, teens at risk, people who are HIV-positive, breast cancer survivors, seniors, children, teachers and others.

Something for everyone

While you can't be a one-size-fits-all fitness club, you can offer training options targeted to the people who use your facility. Whether it's balance training for older adults, Pilates for prenatal clients or yoga for beginners, there are plenty of ways to get everyone active and involved.

"We don't believe that there's one set way to get into shape," Palumbo said, "You don't have to just come in and do a circuit. Someone may choose to do a cardio workout. Someone else may choose yoga or Pilates using their own body weight to strengthen their core. Someone else might just enjoy strength training. The consumer is always challenged and has options."