Those deplorable personal trainers

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I used to go to an expensive, fancy gym here in downtown. Like all commercial “fitness” centers, it had a cadre of personal trainers on staff (or maybe they’re contracted, I don’t remember). There were probably a half dozen trainers.

I watched these personal trainers and their clients for two years as I went about my thrice-weekly, self-directed workouts. What I saw was a bunch of out-of-shape – but hopeful – clients being paraded around the gym doing radically different workouts every week. Middle-aged men paid young men to make them crawl around like dogs. Women rolled around on mats and foam tubes for an hour. Both sexes lifted weights under supervision, but with absolutely no consistency from workout to workout.

In two years, and in watching dozens of clients, I saw literally one person – a very impressive young man – actually lose significant weight and become noticeably stronger. Basically, everyone but this one young man wasted their $89 a month – on top of the gym membership they were paying for! And frankly, this exemplary young man probably would have done just as well on his own and saved himself a thousand dollars or so.

You may regurgitate the consumerist mantra that personal trainers are needed for “motivation.” Bullshit. We need internal self-discipline far more than we need some nebulous external thing called motivation. The self-discipline to actually go to the gym. To pick up the weights time and again for years. To get on the bike. To reject the poisonous processed American junk food diet and choose to eat fresh, wholesome meals. If you have the self-discipline to consistently do those simple things, you’ll lose the weight and/or become stronger.

You don’t need a carnival barker telling you to do this. But you must find the internal strength to tell yourself not just that you need to do this, but that you are going to do it, and do it today.

The other justification for trainers is that they’ll teach you how to do exercises correctly. Maybe, but I seldom saw the trainers at my local gym doing that. Mainly they just supervised a huge variety of inconsistent exercises. Anyway, you can learn how to do just about any exercise correctly by watching some free YouTube videos and using your phone to review yourself doing the same exercises.

I heard on sports radio this morning that trainers make things easy because they make exercise “mindless.” Apparently having someone order you to crawl on all fours or do a deadlift is easier for some people (sounds more like a BDSM fetish to me) but I have to assume those people are simply mentally weak. And mentally weak people will never be deplorable consumers. We leave that for people who live the consumerist lifestyle.

I am a deplorable consumer.

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