Recently I discovered the IFA (International Fitness Association) "Aerobics Instructor and Personal Trainer" certification. Their certification manual is interesting in that it offers up most of the usual fitness industry garbage all in one spot. It's a classic example of what's wrong with the fitness industry. I like to say that if rocket science operated under the same standards as the fitness industry then NASA's highest achievement to date would be the fireworks they buy from the Chinese for the 4th of July. Here are some of the IFA gems, culled from their study materials. (Paraphrased with only the occasional hint of irony.)
You can tone a muscle.
(Really? I can't find a description or definition of a toned muscle in any of my physiology books.)
Aerobic exercise will tone muscles.
(IBID. Also, aerobic exercise is notorious for destroying more muscle tissue than it has built.)
Exercise, particularly strength training, shortens muscles.
(Numerous studies have shown an increase in flexibility with decent strength training programs. Good lord, look at Olympic weightlifters. They're flexibility mutants.)
Aqua aerobics improves balance and posture.
(Balance is fairly task specific, as is posture. There's little to no balancing against gravity in water.)
Heart rate during exercise is determined by the choice of exercise.
(No, it's primarily determined by how hard the trainee works. Lance Armstrong burns a hell of a lot more calories per hour on his bicycle than Great Grandpa does.)
A 135 lb. individual playing soccer for one hour burns approximately 370 calories.
(IBID. Wow, sure that's not 380 or 360? This is incredibly over simplistic, even for an approximation. It shows no consideration at all for differences in effort level. The average pro soccer player runs anywhere from 5 to 10 kilometers in 60 minutes of game play. Fat amateurs are in no kind of shape to run those distances.)
Circuit training can't provide an effective aerobic workout.
(IBID. Lazy bastards. Try Crossfit's "Filthy Fifty" or "Diane" or "Helen" some time and get back to me.)
Strength training in the 6-8 rep range is considered the heavy range. 8-12 reps is for toning.
(No, a one-rep max is heavy. The tongue-in-cheek saying in powerlifting and Olympic lifting is that anything more than 5 reps is cardio. IBID on the whole toning bullshit.)
The abdomen has the largest muscle group. The waist is a separate muscle group from the abdomen.
(Wow. Someone needs to take an Anatomy 101 class or a proofreading class.)
The USDA's MyPyramid is the most up-todate and authoritative program for nutrition.
(Even the USDA gave up on MyPyramid. It was based on the Food Pyramid, which was one of the biggest failures in the history of nutrition ever. It was practically a recipe for contracting Type II diabetes. The USDA has since gone on to their latest debacle, the MyPlate program.)
Fat consumption is optimal at 10% of total calories.
(IBID. This advice is straight from the 1980's fad "Fat is Bad".)
Maximum heart rate can be accurately predicted using the formula [HRMax=220 minus Age].
(This formula from the 1930s has been shown to have "... no merit for use in exercise physiology and related fields." Robergs and Landwehr, The Surprising History of the "HRMAx=220-Age" Equation, JEPOnline 2002;5(2)1-10.)
Trainees should try to maintain a Target Heart Rate, based on Maximum Heart Rate, during aerobic exercise.
As a rule, you are training too hard if you can't talk during exercise.
(IBID. If you want to finish at the back of the pack in a 5K road race, train this way.)
The Valsalva Maneuver is highly dangerous. Trainers should always alert clients when they are holding their breath during exercise, even for the shortest amount of time.
(If this were true, constipation alone would have wiped out more populations than the Bubonic Plague.)
A pound of bodyweight is equal to 3,500 calories.
(This assumes, among other things, that all weight loss and weight gain is purely in the form of bodyfat. Not only is this patently false but mathematically this equation wouldn't get past an 8th grade algebra class. This myth is a massively over-simplified description of an extremely complex regulatory system.)
Daily calorie expenditure can be calculated with a simple formula using just weight, activity level (High, Medium, or Low) and a couple of constants.
(Accurately? With just two variables and two constants? Not a chance. How about "wildly inaccurately"?)
Surprisingly some organizations recognize and ask for the IFA certification by name, even with all the myths and typos in their literature.