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The Necessity of Education

As of this writing Tracy & I are in Portland Oregon engaged full on in our CHI Highway To Health American Sports Nutrition Tour. We are training everyday in a different gym and visiting countless numbers of health food stores throughout the United States. For us it's a dream come true! The RV lifestyle is a breeze and ideal for healthy, fit individuals who seek spontaneity and have a thirst for life.

Recently we've been getting emails from friends and students worldwide wondering how well we are able to eat in the U.S. Are you kidding? We eat "in" and shop wisely for whole, fresh organic food. For those of you who don’t know, Tracy is a fantastic whole food cook and the author of The Athletes Cookbook. She can whip up fantastic meals lickety-split without compromising nutrition or breaking any health rules. We blend several shakes a day and down countless numbers of natural health products with joy. Once again the protein shake proves to be faithful and reliant. Eating well is only a question of desire and know how. Like health it's a state of mind.

Today we toured the Nike Head Office. What a facility! Any athlete at heart would love this campus that covers acres of land and employs over 5000. We saw the Tiger Woods facility, had a protein shake at the cafeteria, then headed over to the Lance Armstrong and Mia Hamm buildings. Of course I had to see the gym and like Nike in general, it was first rate with a dedication to functional health and quality.

The Super Bowl phenomenon is always a great way to observe people and culture. Few understand that the original and true objective of sport is not to win but rather to compete and have fun. To express learned skill developed through practice. But that objective has been swallowed up and buried over time as sport is now big business and only about winning. What is the difference between a winner and a loser?

It's true; I do feel the intensity of sport all around me here in the U.S. It's much stronger than in Canada. But then again, there's more of everything down here. More people, more money, more business and more people who really enjoy the healthy active lifestyle. More vitamins and a better selection too. You can buy DHEA, acetyl-L-carnitine and Kava right off the shelf, however, even the American retailers I’ve met agree that quality control is a problem. Nice to know that when it comes to dietary supplements and NHP's, Canada leads the world in quality control

Education in the health food and fitness industry in Canada and America is not regulated by the government or by the industry itself, and this is its greatest shortcoming. Although clearly related to one another, both the health food and fitness industry have evolved separately and apart from each other. Neither industry has any minimum compulsory education standard enforced by Federal, State or provincial law. Individuals engaged in the sales of dietary supplements to consumers in health food stores, fitness centers or via direct marketing are not required by law to be licensed or certified. But I can tell you for certain that the most successful retailers of supplements have the most highly educated and well trained staff and advisors.

Children are not taught about the science of nutrition or exercise in public or private school. Take any typical high school graduate and see if they can make their way through a fitness center without assistance or detail food in terms of glycemic index, carbohydrate density or macronutrient profile. Thus there exists an enormous information gap in the area of sports nutrition in society. This information gap, which is possible to fill and significantly narrow through education, is responsible for causing preventable sports injury, obesity, infection, degenerative disease and even premature death.

The Health Food Industry

$100 billion will be spent purchasing complimentary medicine in the world market in 2010. According to the World Health Organization, Canada contributed 3.6 billion in 2000, and of this, approximately 1.5 billion was spent through direct purchase in health food stores.

In the US the dietary supplement industry is a $23 billion industry. According to the most recent statistics from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are 29,000+ dietary supplement products on the market. The dietary supplement and natural health product industry includes enterprises that sell, distribute and manufacture products, preparations, and foods produced or grown from naturally occurring substances or sources as their primary activity.

When used correctly, these products help promote overall good health and prevent disease. Products like creatine, ribose, L-Glutamine, HMB, antioxidants, probiotics, flax seed oil and whey protein isolate should be the mainstay for millions of athletic children instead of hamburgers, soda and fries. Recent surveys demonstrate that more than one-half of North American consumers regularly take vitamins and minerals, herbal products, homeopathic preparations, and the like.

Now here's the deal. Almost every industry as complex and technical as ours, meaning the health food & fitness industry, and many more that are not, demand some form of compulsory education (either at the beginning and certainly along the way). How can anyone advise on something they do not understand? I'm I crazy, or should an advisor working in a health food store have an intimate, deep knowledge of every product available in the store?

My automobile mechanic is honest and has a degree in mechanics. When I bring my car in for service or repair, I tell him what I want or what my problem is, then after an inspection or a detailed analysis, HE TELLS ME what my car needs and what I should do. He's the expert. How many dietary supplement retailers are experts like my friend? How many are certified and qualified?

Understanding anything in this life comes only through hands on actual experience and a willingness to read, study and learn. No one can comprehend the science of homeopathy, botanical medicine or sports nutrition by osmosis alone, you’ve got to hit the books. As health and fitness professionals, we need to study structured course material. We need to embrace the obligation we have that demands a vast knowledge of the products we recommend. I mean how can you possibly help someone if you don’t know anything about the products you stock designed to do that. The natural health industry will never truly prosper until education becomes mandatory, but in the meantime, any individual with the eye of the tiger can easily move forward and surpass the industry themselves.

As always, stay well... CH

The Cory Holly Institute (CHI) provides students and members everywhere with the most comprehensive and reliable sports nutrition education in the world. Visit CoryHolly.com.