It’s that time of year, when the world resolves to lose weight, get fit, and be healthy. I love this time of year. I like the new energy and excitement around fitness. I don’t even really mind the newbies at the gym texting or resting while on a machine. Good for them. I’m glad they are at the gym and making an effort. I make an extra effort to be friendly at the gym this time of year. It’s my little way of encouraging people who might be hesitant or new to the gym.
What really bothers me about this time of year is the terrible “advice” that I hear at the gym. This week, I hit the treadmill at my local gym with some friends. The temperature was in the single digits, so running outside was not an option for me. I don’t run outside in less than 15 degrees. So, I hit the treadmill. From across the way I heard the “trainer”, a certified personal trainer who I think is terribly unkind, screaming at his charges. He was urging them to work harder, push more, and keep going. Now, I love an in-your-face style of coaching. I like to be pushed. But these poor people were clearly gym newbies. One was wearing slip on casual sneakers. One was in jeans. None seemed to know what they were doing and not one was using the weights or machines with proper form. And all their “trainer” was doing was yelling at them. He use a condescending tone, and I even heard him belittle one woman for resting. Horrible. Later, I saw this same trainer with a group of folks doing what looked like an interval/circuit workout. One women stopped to take a drink of her water bottle. He accused her of “not wanting it”, “not trying”, and “not even working”. She looked close to tears. Horrible! Drinking water should be encouraged when working out and visibly sweating. Again, all his charges had terrible form and he was yelling at them to work harder. Forget that they were mere feet away, his voice was at a full-on yell. He mocked one woman, telling her if she had “abs of steel” she could “do better”. I was truly horrified. I made my second complaint about this trainer to the manager.
It bothers me when I see behavior like this because it isn’t what fitness should be about. Fitness should make you feel amazing. Your trainer should make you feel good about yourself. She should encourage you, cheer for you, and push you when you need it. She should push you in the way that you like to be pushed, which might very well be yelling, but it might not. Bottom line – I worry that the behaviors of bad trainers, unkind people at the gym, and other haters will deter fitness newbies. Fitness newbies, I hope that you realize that there are nice people, friendly trainers, and good groups out there. Find one and have fun. Fitness is really about having fun and feeling great.