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Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Quick Look At A Concrete, Big Box Gym

For those who truly know me, I am known as the “people watcher”. I perform my "people watching" skills in malls, restaurants, and most particularly in gyms. I happened to take another trip to a big, concrete, box sized gym (thank you Thomas Plummer for that reference) and I must say that every time I head into these types of gyms, the ideas start flowing for another topic to write about for my blog.

After putting my bag into the locker in the locker room, I headed to the stretching area to foam roll, and happened to walk passed the Group Exercise Room.  I glanced in and noticed 15 people in the room getting ready for a 45 minute “Ab Blast” class. Now again, as a “people watcher”, I could not miss out on this one. First of all, does anyone REALLY need to specifically train one body part for 45 minutes? Absolutely not! I am always looking to learn from others, and thought maybe this can turn into a learning experience for me. Boy was I wrong. I could only bare to watch this train wreck for about 10 minutes, but during the 10 minutes I watched them do about 500 crunches. REALLY? Are people still doing crunches?  Ok, whatever.

So I finally made my way to the stretching area where I had the opportunity to watch a trainer take a potential client through an assessment. The trainer introduced himself and pulled out a tape measure from his pocket. I am a firm believer in taking measurements and establishing a starting point, but does it have to be the first minute of the first time you meet someone? First of all, most people are terrified to step foot into a gym, never mind working with a trainer that looks like he was born lifting weights. This trainer did not even take the time to take the first steps in building a relationship with a client. Granted it may take 2 sessions or more, depending on how personable the trainer or client is, to build a relationship, but trust needs to be established first. How would you feel if someone just started to poke and touch you in places without even really knowing what is going on? I saw her demeanor go right down the drain, and knew that there was no way she was signing up for training with this trainer. He possibly just lost a potential client for the gym.

I could not bare to watch this anymore, so I decided to make my way to the free weight area where I knew that I could just put the volume up on my iPod and just focus on my own workout. Yet of course, I was wrong. Just when I thought it was my time, 3 people immediately caught my attention. The first was a gentlemen, probably in his mid-40’s, bench pressing 225lbs, took the bar off the rack, and maybe raised the bar about 3 inches. Yes, I said it, 3 inches. He was "that guy" that you see from time to time at the gym that thinks he is doing something so spectacular and stand out-ish and deserves praise. The second, a woman performing decline sit-ups with a 45 lb plate, with her meathead trainer. What's the reasoning and purpose? I am willing to bet that this woman would not be able to perform a 30 second plank. Was this the correct exercise selection for her?  Last situation, but certainly not the least, a guy talking to a young woman. Not sure if he was flirting with her or really trying to help her, but he was showing her how to do a shoulder press on a bosu ball, then proceeded to tell her that this is what he calls "functional training". Maybe I was wrong about my definition of functional training, so I decided to look it up on Wikipedia, and here is what I had found:

Functional training: A classification of exercise, which involves training the body for activities performed in daily life.
I understand that this is a very vague definition, but it very accurate and precise. What was so functional about what she was doing?  Does her daily life consist of putting groceries on the top shelf, while in an earthquake?
Ok, I am done for now. I really pulled two things out of my "concrete, big box gym" experience.
#1       The fitness industry as a whole has made great strides, but there are still fitness professionals that are lagging behind. When I say behind, I mean, REALLY behind. Just because you look good in a fitted shirt, does not mean you are a good trainer. The knowledge does not stop. Read a book! Go to a seminar! Take on a mentorship!
Strive to become better at what you do.
#2       Open up a Leverage Training Center right next to every concrete, big box gym.  If this is how these other gyms are running things, GREAT. They can continue to do what you are doing, because when the time is right, I will be right there to help their clients when they become fed up with getting hurt. Most importantly, I am sick of seeing these clients waste their money on people that cannot get their clients to their fitness goals.

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