Customer Service

Today at the gym I watched a personal trainer and his beginner client spend a good 10 minutes exploring the all-important torso twist machine. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a well-defined set of internal obliques. But I have to believe there are better places in the gym for this novice to spend his time, and money.

Personal trainers are expensive. Just one session can cost double or triple the price of an entire month’s gym membership. Are people getting their money’s worth? Not according to this serious lifter:

Some of the training stuff that goes on at my gym these days drives me nuts. It seems like every trainer is trying to see how much “functional/balancing” crap they can use on new trainees … They jump up and down on benches, use a medicine ball and other toys. If you are a seasoned and/or experienced athlete and want to do wall squats with a swiss ball, or incorporate the new koosh ball feet thingies into your workout … no problem. But shouldn’t someone that looks like they need a major overhaul start with real weight training and some real cardio?

The dubious certification process for personal trainers accounts for some of these misplaced priorities. I did a little research and found that over 300 different certifications exist, with many – perhaps most – earned simply by mailing in a check.

Still, I’m beginning to think that clients are in fact quite happy to pay for the illusion of fitness. I’m reminded of the very average couple down the street that likes to brag about their retention of a financial planner. Perhaps the value for gym members comes not from actual physical improvement, but from the opportunity to start sentences with the words “my trainer.”

For sure, it’s the exceptional client that looks forward to a challenging workout. True story: On my last day as a personal trainer, a client who had been making steady gains told me he wanted my replacement to be “less of a drill sergeant.”  I’ve also noticed that some of the loudest, most animated conversations at my gym take place between trainer and client. Furthermore, why does every client seem to progress through her workout with a giant grin on her face?

I’ve reached the conclusion that the sorry state of personal training actually reflects a high level of customer service. They’re just giving the customer what she wants.

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  1. The only time I’ll be smiling is come summer when I’m on the beach with my shirt off and being thankful I stuck to big movements like squats, deadlifts and presses!

  2. I figure, if I pay good money for a trainer, he’s going to be a hard ass and whip me into shape. I don’t want to smile and make a new friend out of my trainer…I want results (in added mass and reduced bodyfat). 🙂

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