Trademarking Movement

One thing we export well is the desire to possess something. The United States is the birthplace of branding, marketing, and advertising, as the world knows it today.  Create a product. Give it a name. Create a logo and build a brand around it. Trademark it. Franchise all over the globe.

Exercise method trademarks have been fairly recent newcomers to the legal scene. It’s understandable one would desire to maintain the integrity and quality of a movement method or philosophy. It’s also understandable one would like to profit from their creation. It’s is also understandable it all can get a little overwhelming, bogged down in jargon and eye rolls must be restrained.

Spinning. Zumba. NIA. Xtends. Tracy Anderson Method. Gyrotonic. This is the tip of the movement iceberg.

All trademarked. So while you can ride a stationary bike with a bunch of other people in a sweaty room filled with music and a really great energetic instructor egging you on…it might not be Spinning.

And while you are swishing your hips to a nice Latin number, it might not be Zumba.

Rights to the exercise method began to emerge in the 1980s, hitting a crescendo with the Pilates Trademark lawsuit that took place almost 2 decades ago. Without getting specific,  it was basically a large kerfuffle where one person claimed to own the rights to the name and exercise method, Pilates. He lost. It was determined Pilates was similar to Yoga, in that it was a generic exercise method name.

Since then gyms and instructors have been more careful, trademarking their methods of movement from the beginning and strictly controlling licensing the names, exercises and instructors.

Pilates has probably prospered more than been hindered by this legal decision. Most people have heard of it. Of course, there are people who have taken one class and now call themselves certified Pilates Instructors. Outside of those instances, there are many varied and good schools for Pilates’ method of exercise throughout the world. Each school is a little different, but all stem directly from Joseph Pilates and direct experiences with him and his training. The principles are similar. It’s comparable to the teaching lineages of various forms of karate, tai chi, yoga, etc. There are different types, but all are valid.

As a student pursuing an exercise program the choice and responsibility is up to you.  Research the best method and instructor in your area for you. Someone who is able to help you understand whatever movement method you decide to pursue. There is no one correct choice. Every body puts their own experience into what they teach and into what they learn.

Trademarking exercise might benefit the fitness regime creator or their method temporarily, but it may limit them long term. We all want to move and get fit, whether we find a certified instructor in a specific method, or someone who’s energy and style we simply enjoy. Having a strong working knowledge of the body’s structure, muscles and movement patterns is probably the most important thing you could require from a fitness professional.  Ultimately, there is no one ideal way for everyone to get fit. Trademarked or open to all, just find the movement you enjoy.

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