The fitness education scene has been there for some time now, though it is quite new relatively. A decade back, the number of fitness education institutes in India were a handful. But back then, the people getting in the fitness education business probably had no idea how the big the market is going to turn, and certainly no one expected the sudden boom which hit the market couple of years back.
Just like other arms of the fitness and nutrition sector, the education part also started booming, as fitness became more and more famous and today it’s a household requirement. People have now understood the concept of having a fit and smart physique, a healthy body and living a high quality disease free life. For which they need experts in the same field.
I always give an example to people, with a help of an inverted ‘U’ graph, on one side of which are the world’s sickest people, and of course on the other side are the healthiest people in the world. Most people live somewhere in the middle, some more towards the sicker side of the graph and other more towards the heathier side. But everyone wants to come more towards the healthier side. Now, for the sicker side of the graph there are doctors and medical professionals. They will help you overcome sickness and try and push you towards the other side of the graph. However, nobody thought of the people who can help you get on the healthier side of the graph. These are your fitness & nutrition professionals.
Of course these professionals also need education & training to reach that level of professionalism, like in every career field. And this is where the fitness education institutes come into picture. No problems till now. The problem starts when people who have no relation to education or fitness, with barely any academic background, jump into the bandwagon, and open run of the mill institutes, virtually overnight. This is exactly what has happened over the last few years.
Education is the new cash cow in the field of fitness, and all the scamsters are now findings ways to ride this wagon, and make a quick buck. When it comes to Indian fitness education, unlike western counterparts, have simply no regulation in place. Due to which there are multiple problems which crop up, about which most innocent people who want to make their career in this field, who trust these scam factories, are totally unaware about.
Let’s see some of the major issues plaquing the Indian fitness education sector:
- QUALITY – for most of the overnight run-of-the-mill institutes, this is an alien term. Quality education? What’s that? The standard of education these institutes are offering are absolutely putrid. Most of the course content is copy pasted from manuals and books of international fitness institutes. Substandard course material and unqualified faculty is what best defines their course content. That’s because, terms like quality content or value education is not even on their list. These are alien terms for them.
These institutes work on the basis of volume of enrollments and cheap course fees. They can literally get courses ready in matter of a day or two, and are actually certification distribution agencies, not educational institutes. They know that in a country like India, there are millions of people from poor backgrounds with minimal education, and it’s easy to fool them and trap them by luring them into false promises. And, that’s what they are best at, i.e. false marketing.
Subjects which may take months to understand and deep concepts which needs excellent faculty and updated research content, are being offered by these institutes, in form of a day or two days certification. For e.g. I distinctly remember, people who own these institutes have offered me to teach as faculty in their institutes. When I had a talk with them, I came to know that they actually don’t want faculty, but people who can give a crash course. But, a crash course is given when a person has extensively studied the subject and want a faster revision or discussion of an advance concept. But for these institutes time is money, and they want more and more people to just come, pay, study anything in matter of hours, take the certificate, click photograph and get out.
These runaway institutes actually runaway from words like ‘research’, ‘concepts’, ‘clearing of basics’, ‘knowledge’, ‘quality education’ etc. For them, it’s just another money making business.
- FALSE PROMISES – these fitness educations shops, lure you in by various marketing gimmicks and tactics, because that is all they have. They know that most youngsters reading about the course content have no idea what it means, or what is the depth of the material. So, they use terms like ‘internationally accredited’, ‘job assistance’, ‘government certified’ etc. which in a country like India means nothing, as I explained above. Internationally no one cares about these certifications.
Aim is not to collect certifications. An educated person from that field would instantly know, looking at these stupid certificates and quality of education being offered in these institutes, that how much a person having these certificates really know. A person having couple of strong international credentials like CSCS, PES, CES etc. in his kitty would be anytime better equipped than a person having bundle full of these third grade certifications.
- SELF MADE COURSES – as I explained earlier too that there are certain subjects in which there is no point in doing a certification. You can easily get the knowledge from books and that too quite in depth. However, I was surprised to see institutes in India offering certificate courses on keto diet, vegan diet etc. I mean seriously, you need to get certified to know about keto or vegan diet? And who the hell is asking for such certifications for any form of employment?
Then there are institutes which have completely changed the real meaning of a course. For e.g. nutrition is a subject which needs years to study. Of course a person with a proper master’s degree in nutrition would be anytime better than someone holding a weekend certificate. However, the problem I lately saw was that some of the institutes have virtually changed the very basics of subjects on their own will.
For e.g. low carb nutrition, or keto diets can be a part of nutrition course of a person, but it cannot be an entire course, teaching the person that this is nutrition. So, these institutes are offering sports nutrition, general nutrition courses based on the concept of low carb diets/keto diets. Is this what you call nutrition? Fine if you name the course as ‘low carb nutrition certification’ or ‘keto certification’, but teaching keto diet to a person who came to learn nutrition basics, is absolute stupidity.
Similarly, there are institutes which are virtually changing the way exercise movements are performed. Minor changes of course are acceptable as there is no perfect movement, but you can’t change the very way a movement is performed. For e.g. some days back I saw couple of these youngsters performing extremely funny type of walking lunges, which seemed more injury prone than effective. When I asked them, what the hell is this movement, they said, that their institute has taught them this, and this is called ‘dynamic lunges’. I said, in the entire exercise and strength & conditioning world, I have never seen or heard about any such concept. Surprisingly, this was their institute’s own invention.
- BOTH EXTREMES OF PRICES – Indian fitness education industry has both extremes when it comes to prices at which these courses are being offered. Most are cheap, overnight courses, wherein you pay, do the course in couple of hours and you get the certificate. On the other hand, there are institutes which offer courses at double the price of similar international courses, which are some of the finest in the world.
For e.g. if an international personal training certification from institutes like ISSA, NASM, ACSM, ACE, NSCA etc. is offered at ‘X’ price, and some local institute is offering the same course, for ‘2X’ the price, then I really pity the people who are wasting their hard earned money. Because the return is almost the same, and in most cases international certifications from the best of the institutes always give you an edge. Not that Indian courses are bad, but charging exorbitantly high amounts, in the name of some accreditations or job guarantee is misleading.