There’s a huge surge in the amount of people getting involved in some type of training program over the last few years. Powerlifting, crossfit, kettlebells, yoga, physique competitions, general fitness, etc. are all getting hugely popular. This is great both the physical and mental health of all those involved aswell as the larger population in general.
Along with this, the internet has become a massive hub of information with regard to all things fitness and massive amounts of opinions with regard to training methods. Unfortunately the internet is now full of personal and professional attacks on people and organisations as well as all out battles between different fitness camps. In the middle of all this is the regular person who, 99% of the time, just wants to get a bit fitter, leaner, stronger and healthier. From their point of view, improving the quality of their life can be very challenging due to all the conflicting information that is out their.
Living in Ireland, I can see this as a huge issue with many facilities in the same area openly attacking each other, their training philosophies and their methods. Ireland is a small place and in the long haul, facilities and trainers that are doing this are absolutely destroying their reputation as professionals and adding to the confusion in the process.
With all this going on, how do you decide on where to train and with who?
Here’s a short list (many more things could be added) that you may want to consider before you join any facility.
1. Does the facility screen and assess you?
Before you start any training program, your coach should always screen and assess you in some way.
- Do you have previous injuries?
- Are you on any medication?
- Do you have any major restrictions?
- Do you have basic movement skills?
- What do you want from your training?
- Any major postural concerns?
If you don’t get this, how do they know
- what level to start you off at
- what corrective and mobility to give you
- what exercises may be a bad choice for you
- What can they do to make you more resilient so that you can train for the long haul and not just a few weeks
2. Does the facility and coaches get results for their clients?
This is fairly simple.
People join gyms to get a specific result e.g.. lose excess body fat, increase lean muscle mass, improve their sports performance, et.
Does the facility have a track record in doing this? This shouldn’t be hard to find out by looking at their website, facebook page, etc.
Spend a few minutes researching this before signing up as a member.
3. Do they provide you with a great support system outside of your training?
Is it just a couple of classes a week that you get for your investment or does your facility provide a consistent support network to keep you on track, motivated and educated? This is an important role that every training facility is responsible for in order to support their clients. The challenges of life (family, work, travel schedules, etc.) can make it hard for people to stick to their training plan.
Facilities should be there to help their clients deal with these challenges by providing the tools and resources necessary.
4. Does the facility charge a decent membership rate?
Facilities and coaches that charge low membership and training rates simply won’t last and aren’t in a position to give their clients the best service possible.
Professional facilities should charge more than your average walk-in-and-do-it yourself leisure centre but also give you a lot more in return:
- continuously invest in better equipment
- education to serve their clients better and deliver better results
- A cleaner and safer training environment
- Better staff which allows for more organisation and professionalism
- Better business systems for a more fluid client experience
Facilities that charge ultra low rates often have to buy cheaper equipment which doesn’t doesn’t last or serve their clients well.
An example of this would be the quality of the barbells used in main lifts such as deadlifts, bench presses, etc. A facility that charges very low rates may buy cheaper barbells for €150. We (and many other other facilities) have 2 barbells in our facility that cost €800 each. These bars are safer, will last longer, hold more weight without breaking, etc.
Another huge factor is that facilities with cheaper rates need to get a lot more people in the door to cover their costs and be profitable. This dilutes the trainer to client ratio which leads to poorer results, lack of a sense of community, poorer programming and in many cases the client going unnoticed. In the end, cheaper membership rates mean cheaper equipment, less educated coaches, poorer clients results, an overall poorer training experience and an inability for the facility to grow and serve you better. Nobody wants to train in a facility like this so choose wisely.
5. Do they act like the professionals that you pay them to be?
There are lots of things that could be included here:
- Are they punctual?
- Do they value my time?
- Do they value their own time?
- Are the training sessions pre-planned or are they made up on the go?
- Do they coach you or simply drive you through every session?
- Are their training sessions structured well to meet your needs or does everyone seem to be doing the exact same things
- Do the programs focus on all the different aspects of health such as strength, joint mobility, posture, stamina, etc. that are relevant to my goals and results?
- are they respectful towards you?
- How do they compare to other professional services that you do business with?
- Do they practice what they preach and have the benefits to show for it?
Simply ask yourself “Is this facility run like a professional business that serves my needs and has my longterm health and sustainable results as their main concern?”. If it does then you are in good hands. If not then consider moving on.