MADDEAUX: Amateur hour is killing true pros - in everything
Sabrina Maddeaux says in our app-fueled, know-it-all amateur hour (see Simpson, Homer J.) world, it might be time for the return of professionals. In journalism, the kitchen, the gym and elsewhere. FOX
SABRINA MADDEAUX/ 24 HOURS
Disruption is the name of the game this decade as Uber, Airbnb, numerous food delivery services and apps that claim to turn anyone and everyone into an amateur photographer, graphic design artist, DJ and instant sommelier continue to challenge traditional professionals and contribute to the rise of the overly confident amateur. Sure, these new technologies and services have saved customers a few dollars and led to increased efficiency in some cases, but they've also been a major part of a significant cultural and economic shift: the decline of professionalism. It's not just apps responsible for our collective eschewing of credentials, experience, accountability and quality in the pursuit of easier and cheaper options.
Fast fashion stores, the proliferation of fast-casual dining and even mega trendy group fitness classes are all part of the movement away from professional-grade standards to 'whatever goes' amateurism. While, at first, we were simply happy to pay less and ostensibly get more, the long-term consequences of our choices are becoming increasingly clear. There's Uber's headline-making corrosive office culture, but also the fact there's about a 50-50 chance your amateur driver can actually follow a GPS system accurately. Great DJ acts have been replaced at local clubs by social media influencers armed with Spotify playlists.
Airbnb is destroying our city's rental market. Fast fashion falls apart halfway through a season and relies on unethical labour conditional overseas. Even the most harmless-seeming shifts in habit away from professionals are starting to show downsides. Take, for example, the group fitness trend that sees hordes of fitness freaks chasing down the latest spin, boxing, simulated surfing, aerial yoga or random-activity-in-hot-room class.
People are attracted by the convenience, relative affordability and claim that they're still getting some level of supervision and personalized attention. However, in most cases, that's simply an illusion. These workout classes can be fun, but increasingly they're also hotbeds for over exercise, injury, unmet expectations and even allegations of instructor bullying. Too often, instructors aren't certified trainers or fitness experts- they're glorified cheerleaders with nice abs.
While group fitness gets all the buzz, there's a time-proven, professionally certified option still giving clients results minus the injuries and bruised egos. Personal trainers aren't the cheapest option on the market, and they're not the sexiest - but you can't argue they work. My personal trainer at Equinox isn't a "dance enthusiast" or part-time actor, he has no less than five certifications ranging from personal training to nutrition. He has a Bachelor's of Science, Kinesiology and Exercise Science. He knows what he's doing, and it shows. Like many of my girlfriends, I cycled and punched boxing bags to my heart's content for months before giving the professional approach a try. Within two weeks of working with my Equinox trainer, I had dropped pounds, body fat percentage and increased my strength and cardio limits without a single injury.
The expertise you pay for isn't someone yelling at you to run faster or lift more, it's the knowledge of technique, form and safe but effective training practices that simply can't exist in most group settings. This same principle can be applied to professional taxi drivers, chefs, journalists, sommeliers, DJs, clothing designers and hoteliers. In almost every industry, the professional is being devalued in favour of the accessible and easy. We even see this in politics with the rise of judging politicians by whether we'd like to have a beer with them rather than evaluating their education and experience.
While every industry has room for improvement - whether that comes in the form of pricing, customer service or efficiency - we shouldn't be so quick to discard professionals as frivolous luxuries or outdated. Personally, I don't want to end up in a world entirely run by amateurs.
Want to read more from Sabrina? Follow her on Twitter @SabrinaMaddeaux