Michael Betts has been involved in the fitness industry for over 20 years. Starting his career in Australia as a group exercise instructor, Michael quickly moved into instructor training, presenting several national tours for Network for Fitness Professionals and Reebok. He then moved into personal trainng, managing a team of personal trainers through Bodies By Betts. Michael was a director of the Institute for Fitness Professionals (Queensland), a training school for fitness professionals, before moving to the United Kingdom where he presented a national workshop tour for FitPro. While travelling throughout Europe presenting, Michael co-founded EdFit, an instructor training school, with Steele Williams. EdFit evolved into Fitness Industry Education, the first training provider to offer online education to the fitness industry. Since then, Michael has co-founded fitness fx, a company which produces choreographed programs for group exercise instructors, and eteacher.pro, a Virtual Learning Environment for training providers wishing to deliver their courses online.
Michael has a great passion for fitness and through his work hopes to pass on his experience and knowledge through the education of instructors and trainers.
Hi Michael! Let us hear straight from the horse’s mouth: Tell us what is so unique about fitness fx?
There are three main differences with fitness fx
1. There are no licence fees, so once an instructor is qualified they may teach the programmes anywhere. Clubs do not need a licence in order to offer the programmes in their clubs. This is a great saving for clubs and gives instructors the freedom to use the knowledge they have acquired and teach to any clients anywhere.
2. Instructors are able to modify the choreography to meet the needs of their clients. Many pre-choreographed programmes are quite strict and have to be taught exactly as shown on videos and notes, however fitness fx instructors are able to consider their clients’ skill levels and needs, and modify the workout to ensure it is safe and effective for each of them.
3. All the fitness fx programmes use the principles of training – S.A.I.D – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. This means the programmes will always change. The exercises will change, the training methodologies will change. Pre-choreographed programmes have been the same for years, offering the same exercises, in the same order using the same energy systems, planes of movement and systems of overload. If anyone has been doing pre-choreographed programmes for years, they will not be getting any benefits as there has been no change to the stimulus. As the fitness fx programmes continually change, clients will always be challenged in new and different ways, ensuring they are always getting results.
2. You are definitely the brainchild behind this programme. Where/how does your inspiration come from?
I like to stay up to date with what is going on in the industry. Then I lock myself in a room and just “play around” with exercises to see what I can come up with. I consider movements we do in everyday life; this could be something as simple as sitting on the floor and then getting up. I look at how we get off the floor and then see how I can incorporate that action into an exercise. Creating functional exercises is key to making the programmes unique and effective.
3. We hear fitness fx requires participant to have a certain level of fitness to perform. Is this true?
I would say anyone can do the fitness fx programs, regardless of their existing fitness level. As I said earlier, instructors have the flexibility to modify the programmes to suit the needs and capabilities of whomever they’re working with. If an exercise is too difficult for a client, the instructor can modify it to make it easier. Doing things like decreasing the range of motion e.g. not squatting or lunging so far down, or decreasing the impact level e.g. taking out jumps and just making them a lift/squat. All exercises can be made easier if needed. This is something we teach instructors in the training and encourage them to do. Especially when introducing a new release to members, the instructor needs to consider the clients in the room and then modify the exercises to match the skill level.
Michael in latest Blast fx release
4. How are people in UK accepting this programme?
Incredibly well. People are looking for different ways to train, they are tired of the same old exercises they have been doing in programmes for years. The functional exercises included in many of the fitness fx programmes gives them the diversity & variety they are looking for. T3 especially is proving very popular. As these programmes are not done to the beat of the music, clients do not have to be as co-ordinated. Therefore T3 attracts more men and women who love group exercise but find moving to the beat of the music too challenging.
T3 Master Trainers training in China
5. You taught in Asia before…how much do you think people here will accept this?
They love it. On a recent trip to Vietnam and around China, the masterclasses were sold out. After packed masterclasses at California Fitness & Yoga, the members are very excited about having regular classes on their timetable. In China there are definitely two types of members – those that don’t like to sweat, and those that do. Of course, the members that like a good workout and want to get results just love the fitness fx programmes. Those less enamoured with sweating love groove fx, our dance-based programme.
A bit more about yourself…
1. You are awesomely fit. How do you keep yourself in such good shape and health?
I work out about 2-4 times a week, depending on how much office work I have to do ?
But I like to do at least 2 high intensity workouts a week. This includes blast fx or stomp fx. Then I like to do a weights workout which is either a pump fx workout or weight training. I believe, as a trainer, I have to be able to do the programmes and it is a great way of keeping up my fitness level. I have always loved exercise to music so, for me, these workouts tick all the boxes. I also watch what I eat. Good nutrition is a hugely important aspect of overall health. All of us at fitness fx believe this so much we have created a nutrition programme called body fx, which will be released very soon. Watch this space!
2. Were you always in fitness?
When I left school I became a Chef in an Italian restaurant. I studied hard but as soon as I got my qualification and quit. It was a hard industry to work in. In my last year of study, I discovered fitness and found the industry to be much more exciting. I started to study fitness in my last year as a Chef and then as soon as I qualified, I left and started work as a fitness professional. I have never looked back.
3. Describe your fitness journey in a nutshell ?
I started out teaching group exercise to music classes. After about a year of teaching I went to my first convention and thought “I want to present”. So I worked hard at developing my skills and then applied to teach at a convention the following year. I was accepted. I was then asked to do a national education tour with Network Australia, travelling around Australia delivering workshops on teaching skills to other fitness professionals. At the end of the tour, Reebok asked me to be the National Slide Reebok Trainer and I then embarked on another national tour educating instructors on the Slide Reebok Programme. I did several tours around Australia and started to present at some international events. I also studied Personal Training and started my own Personal Training business called Bodies By Betts.
I believe that education is key to a professional’s success and therefore started a training company teaching instructors the nationally recognized entry level qualifications in Australia and took on government contracts training the long-term unemployed as personal trainers and then placing them in employment.
I was then given the opportunity to do an education tour in the United Kingdom. While on the tour I saw an opportunity to expand our training company in the UK. We then set the business up in the UK and started delivering a whole range of qualifications under the name Fitness Industry Education. This company has grown considerably over the last 16 years and now employs over 30 people in the UK delivering training and education to the fitness industry here and abroad.
In 2003 my partner and I started fitness fx. Our aim was to improve instructor teaching skills which was becoming dumbed down by the strictness of pre-choreographed programmes. We realized there was no progression in these programmess and therefore wanted to offer clients programmes that ensure continued results. Since then the company has grown and we have trained instructors in over 20 different countries around the world.
4. What would you say were your main obstacles in pursuing this career path…
Initially it was surviving on the pay. It seemed that fitness professionals were not paid a lot of money and for most instructors, it was just a hobby. I really had to teach a lot of classes initially to make ends meet. The satisfaction of teaching people and improving their fitness, health and quality of life, however, kept me going. You really have to love fitness to work in the industry and if you love what you do, then the money will come.
5. And what keeps you motivated to go on doing this… especially after so many years!
As I have mentioned, I love fitness, I believe in fitness. I know when I don’t train I feel old. I feel better when I train, I can do more, I move about more easily and life just feels better. I like to get this message across to people and clients with the hope that it will improve their lives as well.
Michael Betts in Singapore
6. Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Still training. Our goal is of course to see fitness fx programmes running in every single country, helping health club members achieve the kind of life enhancing benefits they originally joined the club for. I would still like to be delivering education and training courses, continuing to embrace and promote the holistic model fitness fx employs – exercise, wellness, health and nutrition. All these things are just so important and I would like to continue to learn about them as new information becomes available and then share that knowledge with instructors around the world.
7. Lastly, any words for us fitness professionals here in Malaysia?
Keep learning, keep training. There are so many different programmes in fitness. Try them all for yourself. Find out what works and what doesn’t and then share it with your clients. Remember all your clients are different and you need to consider their needs. Work out which programmes are going to give the best results to your clients and then you will be a huge success. Oh – and enjoy it, love it!