Do you have a friend who’s always bragging about how many steps she’s getting in, or how many hours she’s spending at the gym?
It makes you feel like you’re not doing enough. You should be exercising more. You should be doing those group classes. You should be tracking your steps.
But certified personal trainer Dr. Darian Parker thinks 3 hours of exercise a week is enough.
As long as you’re strategic about fitness, you don’t have to spend your life at the gym. You don’t have to track your progress with a Fitbit. You can get a fit, healthy body in the time you’ve got available … even in the comfort of your own home, if you prefer!
That’s what this week’s YBTV interview is all about.
Dr. Parker leads us through the future of fitness. Find out why wearable technology isn’t as inspirational as it sounds, how choosing a personal trainer is a lot like dating, and how holograms and virtual reality could be part of your future workout.
What You’ll Learn
The reality of fitness is not a glamour show. It’s not some competition. It’s your personal journey. And in your personal journey, wherever you’re starting is good enough.”
You know you need to go to the gym more often.
You know you need to do 10,000 steps a day.
You’ve got friends who track everything on their Fitbit. They know what their target heart rate is. They’ve got all sorts of impressive numbers.
Can a gadget give you the lean and fit body of your dreams?
Don’t count on it, says Dr. Darian Parker, unless you’re already consistently exercising.
Dr. Parker is a certified personal trainer who’s shaping fitness through designing the wellness centers of the future.
Although he’s excited about the ways in which technology will create new fitness opportunities, he doesn’t think gadgets will get us there.
“The future of fitness is … not wearable technology. It’s not Fitbits or Jawbones,” he says. “A lot of the research shows that it just doesn’t work. It’s not making people fitter. It’s not increasing their frequency of exercise.”
If you’re already a fitness buff, wearable technology can help you maximize your workouts. However, “the majority of the population are not regular exercisers… Less than 10% of people are actually exercising regularly.”
It’s not that people don’t want to work out. They do, “but they don’t want to have to go to a gym and be inundated with, honestly? a bunch of people who are already fit,” says Dr. Parker.
More people would exercise if they could do so in their own time, in the comfort of their own home, in an environment where they’re not getting judged.
And that’s where the future of fitness is headed.
Personal Training of the Future
“People are much more aware of their health and wellness,” says Dr. Parker. But left to their own devices, they tend to default to cardiovascular exercise.
Anyone who’s gone to the gym and tried to find a free treadmill or bike knows this. Everyone likes cardio. Cardio is simple and easy. It doesn’t require much thought.
“Hiking, biking, all that stuff is good. [But] that’s unstructured exercise to me, and … it shouldn’t be your only mode of exercise,” Dr. Parker says.
That’s where personal training comes in.
Personal training challenges you to build overall fitness, master your technique, and stick to a schedule.
“Accountability is incredibly important in fitness,” Dr. Parker explains. “The literature is very clear on this: people who get structured guidance get better results than people who don’t get it at all.”
Personal training has become more popular as it’s gotten more affordable. No longer is the typical trainer a buff bodybuilder standing over you at the gym, shouting at you to give him one more push-up. Instead, today’s personal trainers are average people with a passion for health and fitness.
You don’t even need to go to the gym for a training session. Many personal trainers can train you virtually.
“Fitness is almost in science fiction mode, in the sense that we’re getting to the point where were able to do a lot of cool things with technology and particularly live technology,” Dr. Parker says. He now trains all his clients online. As long as they have a phone, he can come to them virtually wherever they are.
Which means you could stop by the park in the 45 minutes you have in between appointments, pull our your smartphone, and get a personal training session via Facetime or Whatsapp.
For Dr. Parker, personal “training is investing in your health and wellness. It’s probably one of the better things you can invest in in your life.”
Choosing the Right Personal Trainer
So you’re considering working with a trainer, but how do you find one?
Dr. Parker recommends choosing a personal trainer based on these three criteria:
“Look at your trainer’s credentials,” he says. “Most consumers don’t even look at the letters behind the trainer’s name and what those means.” Two of the more rigorous certifications come from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
Look at your trainer’s formal education. Do they understand the science behind it?
Ask whether your trainer’s personality is a good fit for yours. Training is “a lot like dating,” Dr. Parker says. “You’re spending time with this person, telling them a lot of intimate things. You want them to be somebody you would like to spend time with.”
One thing that may matter less than you’d expect is experience.
“Experience does not make a great trainer,” he says. “It’s really their personality and how they deal with other human beings that’s critical.”
It’s incredible enough that a personal trainer can come to wherever you are and guide you through a workout on your smartphone, but in future you may put on a virtual reality headset to work out.
“I think one day you’ll be able to have your clients and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to meet you in Tahiti in this virtual reality space,'” says Dr. Parker.
Or your trainer might show up in your house holographically to take you through your workout.
However, Dr. Parker doesn’t believe this technology will replace gyms. He sees virtual reality as one branch growing out of the tree of fitness. “I still think the human part is going to be really important,” he says.
That’s why he doesn’t think artificial intelligence will ever replace human trainers.
“The human connection will always be extremely important in training,” he says, “because a computer is not going to know you’re having a bad day. It might go, ‘Your blood pressure’s up,’ or, ‘These vital signs are different,’ but that doesn’t mean that it knows what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling.”
So you want to exercise more, but you’re not sure you want to spring for a personal trainer. What should you do?
Dr. Parker recommends creating a community to support you. “A lot of people start with group exercise, because it’s a lower-cost option.” But he also thinks that dismissing personal training outright might be a mistake.
Personal training is “not as expensive as people make it out to be,” he says. Trainers want to make it affordable for you. “Do your research, look at your budget, see what you can … cut back on a little bit and then add into your training budget, and you’ll be surprised what you can afford.”
He also wants folks to realize that they don’t have to spend hours training.
You see people spending hours at the gym, but “I’m here to tell you that you do not need to do that,” he says.
He only spends about three hours a week at the gym to maintain his fitness, but those three hours are strategic. It’s about exercising smarter, not necessarily longer.
Dr. Parker co-founded a consulting and management company for health and wellness amenities, Epic Leisure Management, with an unusual mission.
He wanted to provide a love-centered approach to fitness.
With gyms, you see the beautiful cardio equipment, but you don’t always know how people are treated behind the scenes, he says. He wants to create a fitness culture that “really cares about people first and foremost and recognizes their humanity.”
“We need to be good humans to each other,” he says.
Dr. Parker’s podcast, Dr D’s Social Network, grew out of his networking on LinkedIn. He met and spoke with so many people that he wanted to find a way to bring those conversations to a wider audience. “Sharing stories is what makes us human,” he says.
No matter how technology changes the world of tomorrow, one thing will always be constant: the need for human connection.
Jump to Topics of Interest
2:06 Wearable technologies
3:27 The promise of live technology
4:57 Online personal training
6:15 Guidance breaks us out of the “cardiovascular mentality”
8:30 Choosing a trainer
10:45 Holographic and virtual reality fitness
11:58 Will artificial reality replace human trainers?
14:23 Budgeting for training
16:31 3 hours a week
17:45 Epic Leisure Management
20:22 Dr. D’s Social Network podcast
21:42 The reality of fitness
Dr. Darian Parker
Dr. Darian Parker is a certified personal trainer with a Ph.D in Sports Education Leadership and a Master’s in Kinesiology. He’s worked at upscale private fitness clubs and as National Director of Fitness for WTS International. His latest venture is Epic Leisure Management, which is redefining wellness at fitness centers across the country. Tune into his podcast.