As a professional trainer over the past 10 years I have witnessed numerous trends, fads, gimmicks, and strait up frauds. The New Years Resolution has been the lifeline of many a fitness club and personal trainer for years and years. I remember working at my first big box gym in 2001. The hype for New years was non stop. The marketing and build up was out of control. They actually started cleaning the equipment for the upcoming shoppers. Though I had never really tried to lose weight for New Years I assumed it would be big. The gym I worked at would normally sell about 200 memberships per month on an average month. That January we sold over 400 memberships. Nearly double what a normal month would bring in. For many gyms January can make or break the entire year! The gym that is normally busy at 6pm at night is now over crowded with a wait on the treadmills. The gym regulars are annoyed at the new found inspiration of the person that has now decided to turn over a new leaf. But as we all know by the beginning of March the gym would return back to normal.
Over the years New Years resolutions tend to disappoint the gym owner as much as the potential client that actually wants to lose weight this year. Year after year January continues to be the busiest month of the year for many gyms but over the past 3-4 years the increased popularity has definitely dwindled a bit. Over the past 3 years the economy has been the blame for poor membership sales of may big box and commercial gym chains big and small. Though the economy has taken a hit, I firmly believe that average consumer spending $30/month on a gym membership or $200 month boot camp is really not the issue. Starbucks is still booming and at $4 per cup of latte. $4/day x 7 days per week x 4.3 weeks per month equals $120/month in sugared up fat right to the ass coffee. Here are a few thoughts that I have on the decline of the new years resolution at the gym.
Once a Victim Twice a Volunteer:
There are a good few people that have just been burned too many times by the fitness industry. They are conned by the so called Fitness Counselor (a professional name for the guy that just switched jobs from selling cell phones in the mall to doing an intro with the gym manager whom also just read a pamphlet on the benefits of exercise, but now he is going to guide you in your journey of fitness success as a professional fitness counselor). Believe me we have all heard the script about metabolism and increases in muscle mass that are going to be your guiding forces as well as a solid fitness plan that will encourage you to use these wonderful machines that you sit in and press weight. What they don’t tell you is how to appropriately program your workouts which is the real results behind working out. With the right program you don’t need any of the equipment, but they won’t tell you that. You just signed a year contract, he made his commission, and unless you purchase training from the training department to teach you how to use the worthless machines, you don’t know where to go except to the treadmills and ellipticals, yeah!!!!!!
Boot Camp Blues
I would love to see the statistic of people that actually stick to a boot camp regularly over years and months. The invention of the boot camp which brought much attention and success to group training may also be the demise of group training. Every college student and trainer that wants to make a quick buck will have a boot camp at the park. A little bit of money from lots of people always works well. Any knucklehead can put together a workout in the park, throw some running and push ups together and smoke the hell out of you. The thing that I have witnessed is that boot camps usually overshoot the mark. Most people I see in boot camps have no business running and sprinting in the first place. But what happens, they run, and do sit ups and crunches (the stupidest exercise ever). There is no quality control. People have had bad experiences out there with inexperienced trainers and the word is out. I hear the horror stories all the time. Now not all boot camps are horrible but if you look at the generalities I wouldn’t let my loved ones jump into one.
Haven’t I Seen this Before??
Here is a quick rant! What does Richard Simmons Sweating to the Oldies, Jazzercise, Body Pump, Cardio Kickboxing, Zumba, and Body pump have in common….. Everything! Its all the same, the only thing that has changed is the music. It is all Aerobic based training that only trains your Type I muscle fibers. Only training your Type I muscle fibers leads can lead to muscle loss, decreased metabolism, and decrease in strength and muscle. The fat loss from Aerobic training alone is not nearly as effective as strength training combined with anaerobic training. Ask your fitness counselor between the difference of Type I and Type II muscle fibers and how to train them and why it is important. The newest fad is this class where you bang on stability balls with sticks to mimic Guitar Hero except you are a drummer, guess what… still the same thing. Now before you go on and tell me that it is better than doing nothing… I will say that these types of classes being used as a supplement to strength training may be beneficial to assist in some additional weight loss, but only as a supplement, and just being better than doing nothing isn’t worth my time. If all of these classes worked then the people you see going in and out the doors day after day should be seeing results…right? And by the way don’t call it Kickboxing unless you are actually making contact with another human being, please don’t insult real athletes that kickbox.
At Home Fitness
With the P90X having it’s own channel it is hard to avoid it. Why spend $400-$500 for a years membership to the local gym when you can work out at home with the results promised with the new phenomenon of the Beach Body Inc series of products. The good news for gym owners is that this too will fade out soon enough. Any smart consumer can buy a used one on craigslist, ebay, and amazon, and those that have tried it once have already had enough of it. Numerous of my orientations that I sign up for training at some point have purchased or have done the P90X or other workouts similar. Though it is decent starter program, the muscle confusion principal is false and can only take you so far. People also get sick and tired of working out at home to get away from the kids, husband, etc……
As the owner of training facility I always love a flux of new clients, but my business doesn’t depend on having one huge month. It is about building relationships with my clients and developing a place where people feel like they are progressing and seeing results. The programming behind each of the workouts are about progressing strength and conditioning, it is not about just sweating or creating total devastation of the Central Nervous System. Referrals are the best way to build a business and when people are ready to commit to a training goal then they know where to come. People are done with the gimmicks and cute ad copy that makes you scroll to the bottom of the page with the blinking picture that says “Commit Now”(to the same old crap)!!
Put all the gyms aside and all the gimmicks. I think many people just may have been tired of lying to themselves. after 5 years of the same resolution they now stand 30 pounds heavier than they were 5 years ago……. Honestly the most committed clients I have don’t come in on a resolution. The make a decision to change their life. The kids, the husband, the wife, the job, and the in-laws are no longer an excuse to those the truly succeed.
The biggest suggestion to the soon to be New Years resolution candidate is to do your homework. Don’t just listen to salesman pitching you the membership and training package. Do your homework on the facility or the trainer you are about to hire. Too many people have been burned by the gimmicky crap during this time of year. Being lured in by No enrollment fees special and shiny equipment the problem is people hhave no clue what they really are purchasing or what they need. It isn’t the fault of the gyms but rather the consumer for not educating yourself. It amazes me that someone will spend months researching the car they want to purchase but they will blindly trust a gym or a trainer with their body. Be smart, ask questions, and do your research. One last point, Strength is the answer and if they tell you that you will find it in an aerobics class or 12-15 reps, just smile and walk away.