There are a lot of factors that you should look into before joining a gym. Obviously education of the trainers is important to a lot of people. Certifications or even competitive background. I think that depending on the background of a potential client, the experience of a trainer is secondary to a lot of soft skills. Do you want somebody that is highly educated but doesn’t really care? What if they are super strong and athletic but have less than stellar training ability? Since everybody is different, I put together a little list of some things you should likely avoid. Particularly if you are joining a gym for general health/wellness. We’re all looking for the same thing for the most part. We want to feel good, fit in our clothes and to do what we want physically in order to live the best life we can.
Also, looking for the things to avoid is a bit easier for a beginner. Beginners won’t know good mechanics from bad. They won’t be able to spot the good coaches initially. If coming into a CrossFit or any ‘group fitness’ gym, they are likely looking for a ‘good workout’ over anything else. Mechanics, consistency and intensity are the key. But it should also be a fun, comfortable environment for all.
Favoring Stronger Athletes
A major red flag in any gym in my opinion is the favoring of stronger athletes. In theory, the less fit an individual is walking in the door, the more important it is that they are there. Trainers must understand this. New people need lots of attention, and just as much (if not more) individual time and effort as anybody else in they gym.
The culture of the gym is going to play a large part in whether or not this is the case. Go with your gut. It’s usually dead on. Some gyms have a tremendous competitive element along with a welcoming environment for beginners. This is not meant to bash competitive gyms. Competition is important, particularly if it’s part of an individuals goals. For some people that walk into a gym, this may be their ‘last shot’ to take charge of their health. To stop from falling into a lifetime of obesity and decrepitude. If you are new, and feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, you shouldn’t feel like you don’t belong. Even if you are tremendously out of shape, you should feel welcomed!
Badmouthing Other Forms of Exercise
Like I said above – we all want to feel good and to ‘be in shape’. There are a lot of differences in opinion about the safest and most effective way to get fit (and we are biased of course) but that doesn’t mean that trainers need to run their mouths about how much better ‘their way’ is than the guy down the street.
Running is awesome. Biking is great. Enjoy weightlifting? Have at it! Zumba? Sweet! CrossFit? Good for you! Yoga? Pilates? Hockey? Roller Derby? Whatever gets your blood going and gets the butts out of the door.
Walk your dog every day? Cool.
Here’s the thing. If you live an active lifestyle, and enjoy it. You. Are. WINNING! It doesn’t really matter what it is. And if somebody tries to make you feel bad about it, they’re either an asshole, don’t get it or are probably a bit immature in their training career. Your gym should be a supportive environment.
If you haven’t found your thing, keep searching and don’t stop until you do!
*Disclaimer – That’s not to say that I don’t have opinions about other forms of exercise. If one of my clients ask me about something I’ll give them my thoughts and usually just have them try it out to see if they like it. I also try a lot of different types of things just to have an informed option if asked.
This is a tough one. Every good trainer should use nutrition as the foundation of overall heath/fitness improvement. BUT. It doesn’t mean we need to make people feel like shit for living their lives.
Your trainer shouldn’t make you feel bad for eating a hot dog at a baseball game. Or checking in at an ‘unhealthy’ restaurant on Facebook.
I’ve met a lot of trainers the past 7 or 8 years. Good ones too. Some that are super ripped and even competitive athletes. And I’ll have to say, I haven’t met one trainer that didn’t occasionally pound a double cheeseburger or a 6 pack of beer. Or half gallon of ice cream for that matter.
There’s not a person alive that doesn’t know that the elephant ear they are eating at the fair is unhealthy. They don’t need anybody telling them that it’s not ‘paleo’.
Your trainer needs to work with you, to meet your goals to help get you where you want to go in life. If you need help with nutrition, they should help you.
This isn’t The Biggest Loser. You won’t have a trainer watching your every move. This is the real world. Long lasting nutritional changes won’t be brought about by public diet shaming or social media bashing.
**Disclaimer #2. If somebody is having problems with their performance, weight loss etc the first thing out of the trainers mouth should probably be diet related. I’m not saying that diet isn’t important. It is. Probably the most important in fact. They just need to go about it the right way.
So if you’ve found something you enjoy. Keep doing it! And if you haven’t, keep searching. But understand that whatever you do should be fun and something you look forward to. And whatever reason you decide, that allows you to stick with it – that’s fine too.
There is NO wrong reason to select a gym. If it works. It works!