Here are a few of the secrets you should consider when narrowing down your list and finding the one most beneficial to you. In one sense, I hate to cover these points because they do not apply to all gyms and health clubs – but I have experienced enough of these over the years to know that they are a major concern for the novice getting ready to join.
- Overcrowding As with almost all workoutpro US businesses, gyms and health clubs operate with the sole purpose of making a profit. Unfortunately, many businesses take this to excess so that it conflicts with the health/fitness and safety of its members. One sad statistic that most gyms and health clubs operate from is that only 10-20% of it’s membership uses the facilities on a regular basis (3-5 times per week). Thus memberships and profitability are based on totally unreasonable membership enrollments of 1000-5000. Can you imagine if/when large numbers show up at the same time? The risk is total chaos – not to mention the lack of adequate instruction, etc. So ask how many members the gym has and whether they work on the 10-20% rule.
- Inadequately Trained Staff Another issue arising from the focus on profitability is that many owners hire sales oriented staff that look good, and can talk anyone into a membership, but when it comes to a true working knowledge of fitness and health safety, they fall alarmingly short. Be sure to confirm that the instructor that works with you has a minimum of a national certification from a respected association such as the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) or the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association). Ideally they would have a 4-year B.Sc. in Physical Education from a good college or univers
- Appearance Versus Ability Beware of placing your health and fitness routine/instruction in the hands of the best looking champion bodybuilder/athlete. Most of us automatically assume that, if someone excels in his sport or looks like a champion bodybuilder, he can help us to achieve that kind of shape also. In many cases this is not true. Some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable experts that I met looked nothing like athletes. One in particular was one of the most dedicated exercise physiologists I ever met. She worked in research at a medical center and spent most of her time studying the impact of exercise on diabetes. She ran marathons and weighed all of 90 lbs. In fact she was probably anorexic. If you met her at a gym or health club you would almost certainly choose the other instructor (you know, Bruno the Greek god, who just won Mr. Olympia)
- But in reality the 90lb marathon runner/researcher has probably forgotten more than Bruno will ever know or understand about how to set up programs for the average person. The main ingredient that sets an elite athlete or bodybuilder apart from the average human is genetics. They were born with a superior set of genes for their given sport or competition. So although all competitors have to work hard, if you have the genes to begin with, you progress and achieve at a much higher level. Does that mean an elite athlete won’t be a good instructor to the average member? Not at all, but the instructor will have to step outside of what and how they trained themselves and individualize a routine that works for you. Nothing is more disappointing to me than seeing an out of shape middle aged man or woman trying to keep up with a routine designed for them by an elite athlete or competitive bodybuilder that is probably more harmful than beneficial – not to mention that it greatly increases their chance of injury or cardiovascular accident.