Geoff Starling CSCS
Have you ever written a letter to the editor of a magazine? Did they write back? How about publishing what you wrote?!
In response to a headline on the cover of the September/October issue of IMPACT, a Canadian health and fitness magazine, I fired off a few words to the publisher, Elaine Kupser. A few weeks later, the Calgary editor emailed to let me know that they had printed my letter in the upcoming issue. I was blown away by this response. Once you read it, I bet you'll be surprised that they published it, too. Here is the full letter and a copy of what appeared in the magazine.
Thank you for publishing such a valuable resource for health and fitness enthusiasts - and for continuing to make it available for free!
On the cover of this month’s issue (September/October 2017) there is a headline reading “Workouts for Every Body”. This enticement is reinforced in your opening address with, “We kick off with workouts for every body…”. Fantastic!
I excitedly turned to Jana’s article expecting to find a workout that I could share with my client’s and their friends. I work in fitness with individuals who are primarily new or returning to exercise and it’s rare that they are able to engage in the programs published in magazines - even those labelled as ‘beginner’. Sadly, when I got to the page, I was met with exercises which would be suitable to most athletes, but a long way from every body.
To Jana’s credit, her article was actually labelled ‘The Every-Athlete Workout’ with ‘weekend warriors’ as the target, not those who are currently inactive or have barriers to exercise. And, granted, IMPACT magazine is also targeted to individuals who are already engaged in health and fitness. Still, to draw readers in with the promise of a workout suitable to every body, then greet them with movements designed for budding athletes, seems disconnected from the realities of what the general public are capable of.
As a test, we attempted to complete the workout at the end of a class one day. Of the four participants (3 female, 1 male, all in their 30/40s), only one was able to perform all three of the movements as prescribed. The others were left discouraged. Even with the noted modifications they still could not complete what was being asked of them. Ultimately, they felt less than every body.
A significant percentage of the population remain fearful of exercise despite the mountain of information and promotion of healthy practices that is published on a daily basis. When they pick up a magazine with a message like “Workouts for Every Body” and are met with yet another reminder of what they are incapable of, that fear becomes validated and compounded. It is yet another way they have failed.
In the future, please take a moment to consider your word choices as they have the potential to undo the very thing we are all working towards: engaging people in exercise and healthy living.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with you if you are open to it? Would you be interested in publishing a piece on ways to become more active that is targeted to those who are fearful of exercise? It is a topic I write about quite often (From Recluse to X-Warrior) and was recently featured on the CBC discussing (5 Tips to Make Fitness Easier). I feel this is an underserved population overall which causes many to give up hope and resolve to being ‘unhelpable’.
All the very best and thank you again for your excellent publication.
Director, Choose to Change - Every Body Stronger.
President, Canadian Obesity Network - Calgary.
Pretty cool, hey?! Overall it was impressive that they received this as constructive feedback when they could have taken it many other ways. A signal that they are committed to best-practice and listening to their readers. IMPACT have also invited me to produce a workout for their January issue which will be photographed next week.
It also goes to show that standing up for something you believe in can sometimes have unexpected results!
Digital copies of the magazine are available here:
Geoff is a writer, speaker and fitness professional in Calgary, Canada. He is a strength athlete, husband, and father of two busy kids.
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Geoff Starling CSCS