Some Trainers Don't Get It
As a gym owner, it never ceases to amaze me how much of an impact the trainers can have on a gym, both good and bad.
Compounding matters is the fact that since trainers are humans, and subject to human nature, there's an inevitable drama that brews among the trainers at any given gym. From stealing clients from each other, to having affairs with their clients, to who's copying who, the list of all-too-human foibles goes on and on.
If you're a personal trainer and you can feel your spandex starting to knot, the odds are that I'm not talking about you. There are indeed a great many well-qualified, highly certified, conscientious, and accomplished trainers out there who are worth their weight in gold, particularly to the gym newbie. I'm not lumping you in with these characters.
Having said that, it still remains a fact that the greatest potential threat to the ongoing success of a gym is the personal trainer, particularly when it comes to new members.
Some trainers, however, seem to be at odds with that concept. They seem hell-bent on driving our members to the nearest Krispy Kreme, never to return. Here are a few categories of trainers that make we gym owners want to close up shop and become florists.
I don't think many gym owners would be happy knowing their gym is referred to as a pick-up joint. Public image is vital and there's a lot of competition out there. When my gym first opened there were three competing gyms within a 3 kilometer radius. Today, there are 57!
My normal "I don't care what people think" attitude had to reconcile with the bank account. So, if a trainer wants to squeeze or fondle the fruit, the fruit has to agree to be squeezed and fondled, and only away from the gym.
C'mon, your motivation to become a trainer shouldn't be to open up new dating vistas! It's like a guy wanting to become a hairdresser so he can run his hands through women's hair.
Granted, legitimate relationships can be born in the gym, but if your definition of "romantic" involves throwing someone a wad of Kleenex when you're done and giving them cab fare, I don't want it in the gym.
But there are of course exceptions. I have one ultra suave trainer from Venezuela who trains about 12 chicas with big, fake asses and he's working every one of them like a kid drying off cars at the car wash. Oddly, the women eat it up and he's the most successful trainer in my gym.
Am I proud of it? No. Will I take the money? Yes, but that money doesn't come free. I have to allot more of my time to monitoring him and keeping an ear out for anyone complaining about him, but so far everyone seems to love him.
But there are those that not only cross the line, they splatter the line with kerosene and light a match to it. Case in point, a month ago I fired a trainer on the spot for walking past a changing stall and snapping a picture with his phone over the top of the door because his victim was trying on a sports bra. Yes, creeps like that really exist. News of this leaking out doesn't bode well for not only the gym, but trainers in general.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with being creative in devising various fitness routines for your clients. However, there's absolutely no reason on this earth that a trainer should take a normal Midwest housewife who's perfectly content in her snug fitting Lane Bryant stretch pants and try to get her to balance one foot on a Bosu ball, while holding a kettlebell over her head with one hand and curling a dumbbell with the other.
The best, most effective thing you can do for a newbie is suggest positive changes to their lifestyle and teach them basic moves. Anything else is purely ridiculous and reflects badly on you and on the gym.
I think it's great when a personal trainer starts out a new client with a fitness assessment, but the idea of a "physique assessment" makes me cringe. I was getting complaints about one particular trainer who was giving new male members his special brand of physique assessment.
I walked into the locker room one afternoon and, camped out right in the middle of the most traveled area, under the requisite harsh light in the ceiling, was the trainer in question, who had his client standing at attention under the light in nothing but his not-so-white tighty whities.
The trainer was parked a few feet away, sitting half way on the sink counter, doing the seated "Thinker" pose. He was deep in thought, scrutinizing the body before him, a body that had clearly not ever completed a single rep of a single exercise, ever.
He was forcing this pudgy little guy to go through quarter turns like he was competing for the Mr. Olympia, taking a full two or three minutes to study each view while throngs of other dudes criss-crossed in between them on their way to the showers, the lockers, or the sinks.
Talk about uncomfortable! The guy looked like he was going to cry. What the hell was this trainer doing to this poor guy? This guy had clearly never been to the gym before. This was his first experience in my gym and the last one, too. He's probably off somewhere developing an eating disorder, and not just any eating disorder but a Jeffrey-Dahmer-eating-the-brains-of-his-victims eating disorder.
If you're seriously going to assess someone's physique, he or she should probably be a competitor getting ready for some sort of physique contest and they should be wearing posing trunks or at least some kind of cool underwear with superheroes on them, not tighty whities, and you should do it somewhere private, not in the middle of Grand Central Station.
A person's very first day in a gym should not be met with that shit, or anything like it. It's not good for any of us.
They don't give out PhDs in personal training, but just in case you've got one in some applicable field anyway, don't ever answer me with some polysyllabic drivel about kinesiological principles and scientific studies when I ask you to explain what you're doing with a client. I may just be curious. Or, I don't think you know what the hell you're doing and I'm calling you out.
Now, I can respect the pursuit of higher education and the passion you may have to make something meaningful out of your interest in fitness, but there's a reason why there's not a doctorate offered for personal training. It's not freakin' rocket science!
So, don't quote me some obscure study that demonstrated something that's already been demonstrated 30 years ago and has no bearing whatsoever on why I'm watching you count off 12 reps of your client doing something absolutely stupid.
You wanna really piss me off? Then don't put away your shit. It's bad enough I have 3000 shaved apes with questionable hygiene skills leaving weights and equipment strewn all over, from the parking lot to the pool, but a trainer?
I expect you to be extra conscientious about the neatness of the gym. I expect you to not only rack the weight you just used, but other people's weights, too. I expect you to sop up sweat, report broken equipment, not break the equipment, pick up empty water bottles, flush the toilet, and take forgotten crap to the lost and found. I expect you to act human.
Anyone getting ready for a body competition is hugely annoying. A personal trainer getting ready for a competition is annoyance on steroids.
All I have to do is look in the break room and see a gallon water jug with the wrist straps threaded through the handle and my toes start to curl. They might do their job adequately in the morning, but as the water jug starts to empty and three meals have vanished, the fatigue begins to set in and images of Haagen-Dazs morphine lollipops start dancing in their heads and things get a little tight.
It's bad enough I have to worry about some yoga master octogenarian burning out my Excellerator hand dryer while blow-drying his balls, or the hairy, wet, naked guy running towards me out of the steam room with his hand outstretched for me to shake and tell me not only of his long and checkered membership history with my gym, but also how much more inviting the steam room would be if its entry door were trimmed in decorative tile.
It's bad enough that the utility guys are on the roof filling the gas tanks and peeping into the women's locker room skylight, or that there are three motorcycles parked so close to the front door that people have to walk into the street to get around them, and 20,000 other things.
So the last thing I need is to also hear that trainer-getting-ready-for-a-show is threatening a normal trainer, out in the open, for putting the 8-kilo kettlebell where the 10-kilo kettlebell should be, or something equally sophomoric and petty and causing a profanity-laden scene in front of the child care area.
I don't care if you're getting ready for the Olympia, if you can't handle your business like a gentleman, then hang up your bedazzled competition trunks and get back to work.
But no, really, I love personal trainers!