Coaches, clients, gym goers, & owners… Can’t we all just get along?

Anyone who’s spent time in a gym (of any size) knows that there will be drama at some point. Relationships gone awry, competition getting out of hand, or just general douchery it’s going to happen. Good coaches and owners know how to deal with it and to do so quickly. If they themselves are the problem… that’s another issue all together but that issue will solve itself when the doors close quickly. I received a query from a frustrated gym goer today who may have been dealing with douchery. Here’s an excerpt that conveys the gist:

“At my gym, the staff either tries to sell me a personal training package or won’t answer any questions at all. I don’t feel like going to the gym anymore. How do I handle this? I have a 24 month membership. Have been a regular for the past 2 and a half months and I’m trying to lose weight. I have lost around 10 lbs. But I have come to realize that the instructors are only looking to make money out of it. How do I find good guidance for my goals?”

Here was my response:

Good job on getting started. That is the hardest part as I’m sure you can remember. In order to not have to start fresh again you have to do the second hardest part… keep going. And you’re doing great so far since you’re made it past the average 3-4 weeks when most drop off. Just keep in mind that in pursuit of any achievement, you will have things, people, and moments that discourage you. Successful people are able to overcome these points by staying focused on the end goal and (while they have a well thought out game plan) they remain adaptable to changing their plan if & when change is needed.

It sounds like you’re looking to change by building up your support system in living healthily, but having trouble finding someone to partner up with. So here’s my advice: I hope you understand that professional guidance will bear a cost at some point but I agree that it shouldn’t break the bank. I can understand both sides of this challenge as Trainer/Coaches come in several different forms. Some are good, some are not. I will say the best, first metric for qualifying a good one is this: Are they insured? If they are, then they are looking to be professional and make sure everyone is taken care of should the worst case happen. If not, then they are just looking to grab money & probably aren’t investing into themselves to be better. There is more to look at beyond this, but make sure this is covered first.

When it comes to education, degrees are good, but not necessary. Having done this as my profession for almost 2 decades, this is not a side job for me. I invest time & money into my profession with continuing education certs regularly and am always reading something related to my personal development but do not have a degree in the field. There are also those in the industry that do this as a side job. I know a few “part time” Fitness Pros that I would recommend, but they are few & far between. Then there are the total obvious scam artists. They can sell ice to eskimos and just copy and paste their programs for everyone. I hope you’re not dealing with this type of Trainers but it sounds like you may be.

Now, I know that not everyone can afford a personal trainer every time they workout. This is why the good ones offer coaching, remote or in person. We meet with the person via phone, video or face to face at the agreed upon times and give them a program to do on their own. If your Trainers don’t offer a variation of this, then they aren’t really able or interested in helping people and unfortunately probably don’t understand exercise enough to build a long term program.

On the flip side, there are gym goers that are always looking for free advice. As I said before, I do this for a living & it is how I put food on the table. I have no problem giving a free session, but I do so for a few reasons: in part to help people get comfortable in the gym, but also to showcase my depth & breadth of knowledge in exercise, health, fitness, and nutrition. So if I’m working with someone (whether it’s a free or paid session) and someone interrupts the appointment to ask me their one hundredth “quick question”, then they aren’t valuing my time or the time of my client. These people can fuck off.

Ultimately health & fitness is a culture of self efficacy & communal respect. Coach or client, gym goer or owner; If one doesn’t understand this then they are hurting their own health & that of their community.

As I said at the beginning, great job on getting started! It really is the hardest part. Now you just have to do the second hardest part: “Keep-ing” Keep going, reading, learning, working, trying, and appreciating what you’ve accomplished so far.

I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out.

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