I am midway through my second decade working in this industry and I have seen many trends come and go and approaches to fitness change in that time. Maybe I am more tuned into all things fitness these days but I am definitely seeing an increase in people being aware of being fit and the benefits of being healthy and this is a great thing. BUT in the age of the internet, there are a tonne of people out there that are heading into the New Year being bombarded by shakey promises and drummed up hysteria that this will finally be your year! Again.
This post was originally intended to be multiple smaller facebook posts, but I got into it, and here we are nearly 2000 words later…(maybe go and put the kettle on).
Hopefully the following points will awaken the critical mind in many gym novices and allow them to make more guarded and smarter choices in their upcoming fitness journey. Although I have a feeling it will just get liked by my fellow gym owners.
Once upon a time I was the rant-guy. People loved the rants – again, mostly other gym owners but even I eventually got tired of my own cynical shite. I actually had no idea how good things were in the Irish fitness industry before Instagram came along, I don’t think any of us did. Now we are surrounded by 6 pack adorned recreational drug users telling us how to live a virtuous paleo carb free lifestyle while moaning that they are feeling bloated and horrifically we can only count 6 of their abdominal muscles beneath all the filters. Or constantly looking at their ‘terrible’ squat form with a camera almost half way up their arsehole. Thats #fitfam though, innit?
For a short while, the gym whisperer came along and hilariously called out a tonne of these charlatans – I was accused of being this guy a few times but truthfully my knowledge of PED’s is extremely basic, all I know is that they improve performance (duh). Secondly, my time keeping is beyond poor, I just about manage to reply to my own work emails and commitments, never mind scour through social media* – Gary Veeee would be disgusted with my lack of ‘hashtaghustling’.
* a lot of the concerns raised in this article have actually been sent onto me by numerous other fitness professionals (not fitspos).
So here are a few of my pet-peeves that I need to address, in no order of importance…
Bullshit terminology or just vague bullshit generally
This (edited) picture was sent to me by 3, THREE different coaches. I know full well what they were doing when they sent it, they wanted this particular gym to be called out and knew I would be the opinionated idiot to do it. I resisted for about 6 months but here we are…
Yea yea I get it, it’s great that people are training and looking to get fit but when shit like the above is being said in a serious tone, you have to wonder. What can be more functional than learning the correct technique for lifting a heavy object and putting it back down again??
It can be frustrating for small gyms / businesses to compete against multinational franchises but if these coaches believe the above skill is not functional, not to mention there is no such thing as an Olympic Deadlift (unless we are talking clean set up – but these guys would probably think I am talking about how shiny the barbell is – if they even have barbells), then you’d have to wonder about the level of coaching on offer.
I will always pick the small business owner that practices the art of their craft as opposed to an industry blow-in looking to make a quick buck with a watered down and impersonal service. Maybe if I didn’t work for myself I would think differently but with the growing number of small businesses across various industries in this country, I would hope this attitude is changing – even for gyms.
Hurry only 2 spaces left!!!
Said no genuine gym owner ever. Nothing smells of desperation or sales more than a ‘catchy’ heading like the above. It’s an old cynical ploy to force a sale and I believe in a profession where the aim is to help others, forcing a sale is the last thing we should be looking to do.
If you are an open minded, patient and hardworking person who wants to make a change then there will always be space for you at any meaningful gym. But also, if a gym is full or can’t take you back, you were probably a trouble client in some shape or form – I have been referred PT clients in the past (from trainers I don’t get along with) and I know exactly what they were doing when they sent that business my way…
Just fuck off. This is like Juice Plus but as time passes I can see a benefit to the latter. Herbalife can really fuck off too. I remember flying back from a competition in the UK and it was full of over eager kids just coming back from a Herbalife conference. They were armed to the teeth with apparel, posters, flyers and sales pitches. I honestly felt that if the plane crashed, with me on it, my death would have served a purpose to humanity.
4 week promises
95% of all new gym goers in January will quit their training by the second week of February* This is generally down to a lack of direction or a lack of realistic expectations being set. Getting fit and strong is tough, it takes time but it CAN be enjoyable depending on the right environment and coaching. If someone does not sit you down or take time to go through your goals and targets initially, then you should be worried. How long does it take to achieve goals? That is totally dependant on the individual and the goals being set (and the start point for the individual). Training has to be fun – maybe not great fun or fun all the time (much like life – it is unrealistic to expect it to be) but it has to be sustainable. Commitments have to be made on both sides.
* This statistic is a guess.
Off the back of the Instagram brigade. If you have to pay for something (mainly shit apparel) – even at a discount rate, it doesn’t make you sponsored. And Deadlifting twice your bodyweight does not make you an athlete. In fact, unless you are sponsored by Nike or Adidas, it doesn’t count. Under Armour doesn’t count – when I saw a list of Irelands top fitness influencers, I nearly vomited. Most of them looked like they never saw the inside of a gym in their life. Also, maybe I’m a tad upset that Under Armour shot down my enquiries of making (and PAYING for) gym merchandise in an extremely conceited way. Fuck you Under Armour. For the record, Adidas shot me down in an incredibly polite and mannerly way.
Jason in here ski’d 5 marathons in 5 days, this should have been all over the Instafitfam brigade but because no one knows what the fuck a skierg is and we are far too self deprecating in here, it got about 20 likes. The gaggle of ‘influencers’ above probably get 1000 times the likes for doing less than 10% the work that Jason did. Which pisses me off no end and summarises the Instagram fitness world perfectly.
Limited Offers for new members
A common go-to for gym owners to attract an influx of new members. I think there is so much wrong with this I have talked about it many times before but the lack of respect for current members when you do this is one of the main reasons. Viewing our service as a discount one, is the other.
This is a contentious one. I have seen it done properly and truthfully in the past it has rarely worked for me. My own short comings in this area were down mainly to compliance and a lack of chasing clients down to get regular feedback around how sessions were going. After an initial attempt to open up continuous channels of dialogue were met with resistance, admittedly my own interest would wane. The hours spent working on these programs would often go far beyond what would have been paid for in a personal training setting. After a point compliance would always be low and it is for this reason I have stopped any form of online training. It is something I may look into in the future but an automated service (which it would have to be) is not something I am too interested in due to its shortcomings.
I hear of coaches saying they have literally thousands of clients on a monthly online retainer which sounds appealing but from one coach I have heard this from, I have also heard from a disgruntled ex-client of theirs who was training for a marathon and their prescribed daily caloric intake was less than 2000cals (this was a large male in question). This level of disconnect is worrying to me – I would also like to say I am sure there are ex-clients of mine that are unhappy with my service but it has not been through a lack of effort or caring on my part, as you can see from my writing here, it was most likely a personal difference (lol, etc).
I have also heard of another high profile coach who had given almost the exact same program to a female weightlifter and male power lifter in the past and again it is this type of shit that should almost be reported. To whom, I don’t know. I think unless you live in the furthest reaches of the Antarctic (where there is probably a Crossfit gym at this stage) you should make the effort to work with a coach in person as this is undoubtedly the best way to get results, track progress and be held accountable.
Coaches not sticking to appointments.
My time keeping is bad. It is something I am working on but it could be better, I am not perfect. In the past I have been guilty of chopping and changing sessions and I am literally cringing here as I write about it – two clients in particular come to mind, at a time when I let personal shit distract me. Unfortunately one client left and never returned – the other is coaching in the gym now (sorry Sarah!).
I constantly hear of coaches chopping and changing times frequently and generally letting clients down. It actually pains me when I hear this as I know how damaging it is to the reputation of my industry. An appointment should be treated the same as one for a GP or Dentist – on BOTH sides. I have also had many clients chop and change and not turn up and unfortunately I am sure this is down to people experiencing this laxity around time keeping with trainers in the past.
On the trainer’s side, what makes an appointment something that can be moved around so easily and given so little importance? – I’ll tell you what, undercharging for your service in the first place. Really let that sink in. If you charged the professional rate initially, you would take the appointment more seriously, you would be motivated to deliver a professional service and absolutely no resentment would be built up over time as you do not feel you are doing anything as a favour. It may sound cynical but this is how things work in the ‘real world’. The client usually – not always, tends to take thing more seriously too when they are actually paying for your advice and expertise.
On the client side, if your trainer is constantly cancelling last minute, not keeping to their side of arrangements, try a different one that will value your time and be grateful to help you achieve your goals.
This is the end of this ridiculously long post…
These are a few things that I think need to be called out over the New Year – and in the fitness industry generally, as the typical gym goer is confronted by a myriad of shite on their social media feeds. We all have to be accountable – including myself, and strive to deliver the highest standard that we can. I am by no means saying my gym is the best (which is also incredibly tedious when gym owners do that) but there would be a growing handful of gyms and coaches that I would recommend – a good indicator is that they have no social media presence or if they do, the posts are mainly about them and not filled full of soft porn photo shoots of their own abs or arses. Another thing we all have in common is that we realise we are here to help others and at the end of the day we are coaches first and foremost. Good luck in the New Year if you are starting your fitness journey or getting back into training – if you have any questions I will be glad to help, and that is not a secret sales pitch, SDSC is full and not accepting any new members until 2022 (lol)