Most people in the U.S. have a dual cultural identity. We see the fusion of cultures everywhere--from young Indian girls wearing bindis with blue jeans, to Latino teenagers switching from Spanish to English in the same sentence, to Sicilian New Yorkers still meeting for Sunday night pasta every weekend even if they can’t speak a word of Italian. The fitness community is no exception to this diversity.

For a long time, fitness was considered a luxury and only relatable to a singular culture, but slowly more and more people from all walks of life are not only entering the fitness community, but becoming leaders in the field. Dance fitness, in particular, has become a symbol of the integration of culture and health. For instance:

• Zumba became a sensation through Beto Perez by introducing people to Latin American dance via fitness.
• BollyX has infused South Asian dance moves with a high-intensity cardio workout.
• WERQ draws from a variety of dance styles and cultures by combining pop, rock, and hip-hop.

Ironically, emphasizing our cultural differences has brought people of wildly diverse backgrounds together. People are now more inspired towards self-expression through the universal power of music. Not everyone who tries BollyX may necessarily be well-versed in Punjabi folk music, and yet, people still feel compelled by the vibrancy and energy of bhangra. It is surprising and empowering to be able to relate to something that is completely foreign to you. It reminds us of the excitement of trying something new and the ways in which we are all connected.

This is particularly valuable in group fitness because it offers a unique sense of community and support. Many people are hesitant to join a new workout or already feel alienated by, what can seem like, impenetrable cliques in fitness. The relatability of different cultures can encourage people to overcome their ambivalence and dive into fitness with both confidence and curiosity. Heath is an individual journey, but in the case of beginners, that long and arduous road with seemly little reward, allows trainees to see other people who are in the same position they are erasing pre-conceived notions of exclusivity and creates a more comfortable and attainable environment.

The growing popularity of different cultural backgrounds in dance fitness serve as a reminder that when we bring our differences to the table, our similarities become all the more apparent: when we go to class, we are all there to learn, to improve ourselves, and most importantly, to work towards a healthier, happier life.

It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school and before we know it, the leaves will start changing and that autumnal crispness will cool the air. Now’s the time to celebrate summer with one last hurrah! Labor Day weekend is a great time to relax and enjoy the final days of summer heat with family and friends. It also usually means grilling, desserts and forgetting to count those calories. If you’re looking for something a little healthier this holiday weekend, try this delicious and satisfying side dish from the book, “Meals & Musings,” by SCW presenter and health and wellness professional Lawrence Biscontini, MA.

Mexican Spiced Pureed Corn (Note: Omitting the spice is ok!)
This dish is an excellent side to chicken and is a high source of fiber and protein. It can also be combined with rice and beans for a vegetarian dish.

Ingredients: - 1 pound bag frozen corn or 4-5 cups fresh raw corn
- ½-1 cup of skim, low fat, full fat milk or cream
- Salt to taste
- 1 clove finely chopped garlic
- Dash of nutmeg
- Spice chili powder to taste (if desired)
- ¾ cup finely chopped fresh red pepper
- ¾ cup finely chopped fresh green pepper
- 2 TBSP parmesan cheese

1. Cook corn, milk, salt, garlic, nutmeg and chili powder (optional) in a pot and simmer for 7-10 minutes.
2. Insert a blending wand and puree until ½ the mixture is creamy; about half the kernels. Alternatively, you can mix it in a blender on low for a few seconds then return to the stove.*
3. Stir in parmesan cheese for 1 minute.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the raw red and green peppers.
5. Serve immediately
*Actual thickness is based on individual taste.

No more SCW DVDs. Are you Serious?

SCW will no longer be duplicating DVDs ever, ever, ever again. Our back product room, previously packed with over 1,000 DVDs, is now immaculately CLEAN & GREEN! We will now only be streaming videos and preparing them for downloads.

As a person who was raised in a home with a “NUCLEAR FREE ZONE” sign embarrassingly on her front lawn and a “guest bedroom” that was packed floor-to-ceiling with old newspapers waiting to be driven across town to the recycling building, I am proud to personally stand behind this effort.

My dad was my hero. He was always standing for what was right and for the future. In 1968, at the age of nine, I was perched at my kitchen table during every free moment folding and licking envelopes for Bobby Kennedy in his race for the presidency. Once a week, I would go with my dad to help drop off the piles and piles of newspapers, magazines and leaflets to the recycling building. I would listen to talks about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination and how it affected America and how the war in Vietnam was wrong. In 1973, at the age of 14 when girls are supposed to be experimenting with make-up, I was learning about the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. These were the talks at my kitchen table. These were the meetings held at least monthly in our living room. This was what was important.

I am constantly astounded by the way technology has changed our lives and has influenced what we do and how we do it. Being the mother of four boys, ages 18, 20, 22 and 24, I am reminded “how stupid” I am. (And I say this with a smile!) My boys were raised with technology. An APPis second nature; a streaming video on the TV is common.

My window to the future is a combination of a two different generations – my dad’s and my boy’s. I am saving the world through the vision of the men in my life.

If you want to know where the world is going – watch your kids. See what they are doing, check their computers, tablets and phones, ask questions and know that you will be made to feel very stupid. Yes, very, very stupid! But do it anyway!

What I discovered was that computers are now being created without DVD or CD ports. Desks are no longer designed with filing cabinets because people do not save physical papers. Printers are few and far between, and combination fax machines aren’t offered anymore. Who needs DVDs, CDs, filing cabinets or fax machines? Everything is digital and downloadable.

So save some trees and stream!
Welcome to the 21st century!
Save the future! Go dad!

Although the topic of requiring personal trainers to become licensed has gained a lot of attention recently, the true reason for these discussions is not based on the quality control of the fitness professional but instead on the reduction of certification organizations. It really is a matter of business competition. Personal trainers have never been mandated to obtain licensing and they should not be subject to this requirement. If personal trainers and fitness professionals were required to be licensed, the cost to our government and you, the tax payer, would be substantial. Further, it would reduce the number of fitness professionals because of the increased financial cost to the instructor and trainer; the cost of certification and licensing fees would double and triple in some cases. Most importantly, our already obese and sedentary populous would suffer as a result because fewer professionals would be available. Therefore, legislation regarding licensing has never been passed, and in my opinion, it should not or will not ever come to fruition.

If the decision to license personal trainers has been a topic of discussion since the state legislature of Louisiana addressed it in 1972, why the delay? There are a few issues that have made it impossible for state governments to pass legislation that requires personal trainers or other fitness professionals to become licensed. The first issue pertains to the cost or funding for states to administer the licensing program since this does not come without a large price tag to the states and their tax payers. Secondly, there are a plethora of certification organizations that currently provide personal training certifications versus other professions such as physicians, accountants and attorneys who have one definable governing body. Lastly, if one of the reputable personal training certification companies becomes "the" organization who provides the training to license personal trainers, what happens to the other organizations? It is through divergent ideas and training methods that fitness professionals are encouraged to think creatively and this leads to the diversity of fitness options that fuels our profession.

In an attempt to be proactive, some certification organizations have sought accreditation. These organizations have led the fitness community to believe that the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is a government body, which is not the case. NCCA is an independent business that charges money to review certifications. While they do a wonderful job, the NCCA is not solely focused on reviewing fitness programming, but they review all types of businesses including construction, dog training and food preparation. Further, the NCAA requires a psychometrician or statistical expert to “prove” that the exams used to certify or license personal trainers contain reliability along with construct and content validity. In other words, they review if the exam produces the same results if taken by the same individual over a number of times and whether or not the exam really tests what it trains. NCCA also reviews that the these exams are administered without prejudice of race, gender, etc. Organizations such as NCAA also will not validate a physical exam due to their being too much subjectivity.

Consequently, only a written exam, which is specifically a multiple-choice exam, can be proven to be reliable and valid. Therefore, many reputable certification organizations who have chosen to seek accreditation no longer offer a practical component with their certification. Unfortunately, this will produce personal trainers who understand the theory of exercise physiology and kinesiology but lack the ability to safely and effectively supervise a client’s exercise program from a practical perspective. While it is commendable to review and accredit an organization, denying the ability to practically and physically train and review skills does not fit with the fitness industry. Live training and live testing is very important.

There is also another aspect to the NCCA review process which cannot be ignored. While the NCCA review cost is relatively minimal, prepping and preparing for the NCCA review costs the certifying agency hundreds of thousands of dollars - upwards to $200,000 for each certification for which they apply. The cost of the NCCA review would put some reputable businesses out of business. Finally, when the NCCA review process is completed, the cost of the certification to the instructor and trainer must be increased to cover the cost of this extensive review and it is the instructor and trainer who literally "pays." As the cost goes up, the number of trainers who can pursue a profession in fitness decreases and because many fitness professionals are not highly paid or full-time, the fitness industry will lose talented and very needed fitness professionals.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where fast food and a sedentary lifestyle prevails for the majority of the population and the epidemic only continues to get worse as technology impacts everything that we do in the workplace and at home. We may all pay a price if we lose fitness professionals who are dedicated to positively changing lives every day. At the end of the day are we better with fitness professionals who are not licensed but can provide the motivation to get their clients moving and eating properly? This question is sure to be debated by many over the unforeseeable future.

Mike Divello, MS
Mike has been in the fitness industry for the past 31 years. He has a graduate degree in Exercise Science from Iowa State University with an emphasis in Sports Psychology. His undergraduate degree is also in Exercise Science from DePaul University in Chicago. Mike was the former Assistant Vice-President of Personal Training for Bally Total Fitness for 23 years before accepting his position as Director of Operations for SCW Fitness and WATERinMOTION® three years ago. His passion involves embracing change to see others within an organization grow and reach their full potential. Outside of work, Mike is an avid Chicago Blackhawks fan and supporter of his son’s youth hockey team along with working out on a daily basis.

Going digital with your Group X music is a positive change that saves time, money, hassle and stress. It also puts a whole new world of fun, fresh, hot new music right at your fingertips. Yet, many of us haven’t made the transition because we simply don’t have time to make the transition that “saves us time”... funny and ironic! If you aren’t enjoying the benefits of digital music, then read on. The next five minutes could change your life.

What does it mean to “go digital”? Simply put, it means you download or stream music to a phone, tablet or computer (and say goodbye scratched CDs and clunky cases!). What’s the difference between downloading and streaming? You’re about to find out. Here are 5 common myths about going digital:

Myth #1: Digital Music Is Unreliable
This is where the distinction between downloading and streaming is extremely important. “Downloading” means the music files reside on your device and can play without internet access. Downloading is something to do before class and while you are connected to the internet. Once the music downloaded, it will stay and play perfectly on your device at any time, with or without wi-fi availability.

On the other hand, “streaming” needs an active internet connection for the music file to play properly. Streaming is something done through apps like Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music. Streaming can be problematic because a bad/slow internet connection can cause a song to suddenly stop playing in the middle of your class. Not cool.

A digital music app - like Yes!GO - operates by having you download the music you want prior to teaching, so your music is reliable and ready to play 100% of the time. To see the app in action, check out this quick 3-minute video:

Myth #2: Digital Music Is So Confusing!
The uncertainty associated with a new transition can feel hard, but going digital is actually pretty easy! Simply follow these steps:

1. Use an app, like Yes!GO, to play your digital music.

Click here to get a free digital music app for Apple (iOS) devices:!go/id903588786

Click here to get a free digital music app for Android devices:

2. Open the app on your phone.
3. Log in (or create your account on the website).
4. Start playing music!
5. Enjoy the tempo-shifting power of an app! With the touch of a finger you can speed up or slow down any song to perfectly match the needs of your class.

An app is by far the best way to play digital music. Sure, you can still download files from a website to your computer… then move the files from your computer to a music playing device, but even that method is clunky and outdated. Apps that play through a smart device simply work better. What’s a smart device? Anything with a touchscreen! An old ipod doesn’t have a touchscreen, so it’s not smart and not able to run apps. Use a smart device and get an app. Life will be so much easier.

The Yes!GO app comes with a FREE album, plus you can access all your past Yes! digital downloads right in the app. If you try the unlimited music subscription (think “Netflix… for Group X music”), then you can download anything you want, at any time… and there are over 600 albums to choose from! Plus you can make unlimited custom mixes and access them all right in the app. To see the app in action, check out this quick 3-minute video:

Myth #3: It Doesn’t Save Money
Going digital is free. The apps are free and Yes!GO comes with free music built right in. When you want more, you can subscribe to an unlimited music plan for as little as $12.95 per month. It’s so cool! You can use/play anything you want (even unlimited custom mixes), as much as you want, whenever you want, for a low monthly fee.

Compare the cost of purchasing 1 to 2 CDs per month at $20 - $40/month or $240 - $480/year to the cost of an unlimited digital music plan at $12.95 per month or $129.95 per year. A digital music subscription costs less, PLUS it’s unlimited. Want a new mix for every single class? Go for it!

Myth #4: Using My Phone to Play Music Can Interrupt My Class
Nope. Just turn your phone to “Do Not Disturb” or “Airplane” mode and problem solved. With a music app like Yes!GO, your music will have already been downloaded prior to class. No wi-fi needed.

Using your phone is ideal because you always have your phone with you; it’s one less device/thing to carry around. And why not keep essential teaching tools right on the device that’s already in your back pocket?

Myth #5: Music Takes Up Too Much Space on My Phone
Actually, since you only download the music you want, digital music doesn’t take up that much space. Yes, you can instantly access a gigantic catalog, but only the files you want will take up space on your phone. With the swipe of a finger, you can quickly delete albums you no longer use. (And don’t stress about deleting albums! It takes 30 seconds to add them back if you change your mind.) With a digital music app, you can download, delete and re-download albums anytime, any place, anywhere... no need to store a bunch of music you don’t use. It’s super easy!

Make the change. Go digital. It’ll save you time, money and hassle. Plus you’ll enjoy the new musical motivation it pumps into each and every class.

For more information, click here.