Love thy Enemy

Posted on January 5, 2012. Filed under: Misc | Tags: , , , |

I am 3 days in to my workout routine.  And feeling good, a little sore, but good.

I will post my routine, and *shudder* photos, soon.  I also intend to share my info on the fundamentals of fat loss in future blog entries.  Today though, I am feeling reflective.

With the end of the previous year, the major fitness chain Ballys, was bought out by another fitness chain LA Fitness.  This does not affect my business at all really, but it really got me wondering about the industry as a whole.  There are so many ‘variations’ in the fitness industry.  Many that if you were to hear my colleagues speak of them, you would have thought they were responsible for the destruction of civilization.

Although certain fads annoy me (like heavily padded sneakers that shape you up) there is always something you can learn, even from those you disagree with.  and I though I’d share my views in hopes of opening a few minds.


Planet Fitness

Just the mention of their name around a S&C, powerlifting, or bodybuilding coach will evoke eye-rolls, disgust, etc.  For those not familiar, this is a very successful franchise based on “judgement-free fitness.”  They also insult, and put down the very idea of lifting heavy or gaining muscle at evry turn.  In essence passing jusgement on those not like ‘them’.

They have pizza nights, and tootsie roll giveaways, they have loads of machines, no barbells, and the dumbells will not go over 70 lbs.  In some locations not even over 50.

Now any one familiar with a good understanding of exercise and nutrition can point out how much is wrong with this,  yet we overlook the plain and simple logic.  Their existence is not an insult to the fitness industry.  There existence is because we as professionals did nothing to change things till it was  too late.

Think about it:

  • How many women are still intimidated by lifting weights?
  • How many people still think lifting weights makes you ‘bulky’?
  • How many people still think lots of cardio is the best way to fat loss?
  • How many people really know how to do a proper squat, deadlift,  military press, etc?
  • How many gym chains out there only care about the membership sales?
  • How many gyms out there have bad trainers?
  • How many gyms are really pick-up bars with weights?
  • How many gyms still have obnoxious disrespectful big guys who no one does anything about?

I can tell you in my time working in commercial gyms like Ballys, I kicked out so many people, male and female, I can’t even begin to keep count.

The founders of PF merely looked at what the trend was and built their gym accordingly.

Intimidated by weights?  No problem.  Throw out the heavy weights and barbells, load up on machines.  You don’t need technique with machines.   🙂

Don’t want to be hassled?  No worries.  The sales people don’t work off commission.  We have rows of cardio equipment, and our monthly rate is $19!

You can get a good jist of the PF philosophy listening to the co-founder and chairman.

For years the industry was missing the mark because they were selling the unattainable ideal of beautiful bodies. Over the years hardly anybody was making money with a plan that could never appeal to the general population. They appealed to a small group that acted like idiots, used steroids and wanted 2 percent body fat.”

This actually is not the focus of of most fitness chains.  It is however a reflection of what most people think a gym is, as so many chains for the sake of membership sales and retention will let inmates run the asylum.

I like to take tours at other gyms now and again to get a perspective.  I did the same at a PF.  And I can see the appeal.  If I wasn’t knowledgeable in the field I would think it was all I needed.

So what lesson do can we take from PF which we can apply in our own gym setting?

  1. Make people feel comfortable.  I don’t know why this is so hard.  It’s just about etiquette really.  and if you are one of the more athletic, or muscular people in your gym, or even the owner, your habits lead the way.  When you are done with your weights put them away.  Don’t drop your dumbbells on the floor, it damages the dumbbell and concerns others new to the gym.
  2. Communicate when appropriate.  This takes some practice, but you want to let people know they can count on you for reasonable answers and help.  As long as it’s not during your set.  If you see some one doing something that you think may hurt them let them know, delicately.   Don’t walk up and say ‘you are doing it wrong’; say do you mind if I make a suggestion to help your workout.
  3. When in doubt, think 4th grader.  There’s a reason there is a show called are you smarter than a 5th grader, as opposed to a middle or high school-er.  People like things simple, spoon fed.  Yes there are those who can hit the ground running.  Most can’t, or only think they can.  So when asked a general question don’t respond with long lecture of science or jargon.   This one I struggle with myself.

This has been fun, I think I will try this with a few other ‘fitness abominations.’  In the end fitness involves basic principles which apply to all.  as does(or, as should) the fitness industry.



Keep Fitness Groovy

Coach W


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