This weeks blog primarily focuses on the high-volume/low monthly price gym model, but many of the points also apply equally to costly gyms and independent contract trainers.
I have personally witnessed each one of these events.
1. Your personal trainer may not be qualified…in anything. It is entirely possible that your trainer holds no education or certification whatsoever, and may have zero experience training anyone other than themselves. They may not have any training in CPR/AED or basic first aid.
Potential Clients: Ask the trainer or their fitness manager to show you the trainers certification and proof of current CPR/AED. Trainer certifications are valid for periods between 1-4 years (varies per agency) before they need to be renewed. This needs to happen BEFORE any training service has been rendered.
Trainers: Having a photo of your certification and CPR/AED qualification on your phone is an easy way of having ready proof.
2. Sexiness can mean more than Ability. I will preface this by saying that a trainers exterior does not serve as a full indicator of their ability, and as a mean looking bastard.
I have personally seen people hired as trainers purely due to their looks. Those looks in turn were leveraged as a sales tactic. If a young lady was potentially interested in training, a handsome well-built male was assigned. If a male was interested in training, an attractive lady was often brought out. If a male or female was tentative about hiring a trainer, they would bring out a rather unimposing looking trainer, especially if the interested party was older.
Purely from observation the attractive trainers may be preferentially assigned clients simply to keep them on the staff and on the gym floor. Whether or not they were actually any good, or remotely qualified for the job was irrelevant.
3. Gyms don’t want you being there, but they do want your monthly dues. The IDEAL person is someone that never shows up. Thats free-money, and has been the ideal for quite some time.
4. They will go to great lengths to get you to sign the dotted line. I’ve been called numerous times by gyms I’ve visited, and every call seems to have a special limited time offer attached. There seems to be no end to the psychological tricks used to sell a gym membership. The selling party always seems interested in the gym that I actually hold a membership. My speculation is that they are trying to determine if I go to a direct competitor or not. If I did, they would magically be able to match or beat the deal.
FACT: Many (not all) of the sales staff have zero knowledge of training.
5. Cancelling a contract can be exceedingly difficult, especially when compared to how easy it is for them to take your monthly payments.
6. Most gyms don’t clean surfaces or equipment nearly as much as they claim. You are your best janitor in these cases by wiping equipment surfaces before/after use and covering any cuts or scrapes. In highly populated gyms I suggest wearing long sleeves and pants no matter how badly you want to blast your guns to the admiring public.
This local gym didn’t seem to sure how to balance the layout of the functional training area (note the BOSU on the far left) and the cardio equipment, so they surrounded the functional area with cardio equipment.
7. Decor and Layout are meant for an effect. Typically there will be images of exceptionally fit people on the walls (aka genetic lottery winners with possible photoshoppery) and lots of cardio equipment, or some form of functional training area at the front of the gym. The barbells and dumbbells will almost always be in the rear.
A training gym, much less a hardcore lifters gym will be the opposite.
Why? The images are there to sell you a dream and the cardio equipment isn’t nearly as intimidating as the barbells. I believe the functional training areas are out of response to the growth and name recognition of CrossFit. My degree in bastardology leads me to suspect that the functional training areas can also hide a trainers inability to teach and train core lifts.