I was at dinner with some friends recently when one of the girls told me about a scientific fitness program. The girl was young, healthy and appeared quite fit. I also know from her very unique career that she is hard working and ambitious. I was interested in learning more about the program and she was interested in telling me about it.
HER: My gym has this scientific program and they guaranteed results.
ME (THINKING): Whenever the term scientific gets thrown around in fitness, I get a little skeptical.
HER: Every trainer hired in my gym has a bachelors degree and not just some certification.
ME (THINKING): Some of the best trainers I know have degrees outside of fitness and then passed a certification program later. However, I do know a guy with a Nutrition and Human Physiology degree that doesn’t even understand somatypes.
HER: They designed the program so you never peak. You keep making gains.
ME: That is impossible. If there really was a way the human body could continue making gains forever, there would be some guy benching 3,000 pounds and running a 3 minute mile.
HER: Well, the program was designed in this University and they have test results confirming the program.
ME (THINKING): Got to love those University studies where they take a bunch of 20 year old, healthy college kids and run them around and low and behold they get fit. Amazing!
Human beings have known inherently how to move and be fit for thousands of years. Now we suddenly need degreed experts to design scientific programs? If you are top athlete or training at an elite level – sure. But if you’re Bob from Accounting and can’t do a girls push-up, you don’t need science, you need a boot in the ass.
HER: I ran the numbers and even though this gym was $300 a month, it would have cost me $600 to hire a personal trainer.
ME (THINKING): How can a gym make money hiring degreed trainers for half the billable of certified trainers and guarantee results? Oh, I see what they are doing.
HER: It was so tough. They kept at you. Pushing and pushing. They did not let up on you the entire workout. They knew how to keep you moving.
ME: But you dropped out of the plan, right?
HER: Yes. How did you know?
ME: You were too sore to move your arms and legs. You couldn’t go back to the gym if you wanted. Correct?
HER: Yes. I was so sore. They really worked me out.
ME: They had you doing high-reps, didn’t they?
HER: Yes. Super high reps, with almost no rest. It was a great plan, I need to start back up with them and be more serious.
ME (THINKING): Poor girl. That gym should be burned to ground.
Our scientific gym came up with a great business model. Charge $300 a month to use facilities where degreed trainers behave like drill sergeants and make their clients so sore they can’t return to the gym. The clients believe THEY FAILED the program, not that the program failed them. They even tell their friends how amazing it is. So sad.
Dec 9, 2008 — 7:44 pm
The only thing worse is that these same people publish books. And then lay-people buy said books, head to the gym with their generic workout printed out in their hand and proceed to do all the right exercises with atrocious form.
Last night I had to leave the free weight room for a bit because I could no longer stand to watch this 15-year-old kid do a leg press super (SUPER) fast, lock his knees each time on the exertion. And then follow it up with calf raises (on the leg press) super quickly, and flexing his foot so much I was worried he’d tear his Achilles.
All this followed directly by a trainer who had her client doing a tricep press with her shoulders rounded, knees locked and using mostly her abs to push the weight down. High weight is only a good thing if the targeted muscle is actually the one doing the work. If you’re recruiting the wrong muscles to help, then lower the freaking weight.
I may never be able to work in a gym again, for real. It’s painful to watch people wreck their bodies that way.
Dec 9, 2008 — 8:06 pm
Some lady at the gym brought in her printed workout. She used the one of the two benches where people could actually do bench presses as her desk. Her water bottle and her ditto.
She would flap around the gym doing idiotic moves and then head back to her “desk” for the next exercise.
I so wish today was chest day. I would have swatted that crap right on the floor. 🙂
Dec 11, 2008 — 11:17 am
So if the books and the trainers both don’t know good form, where does the lay-person go to learn good form? I absorb a lot of fitness theory from MAS and other sources that I trust, but since I go to the gym by myself, I don’t really have a good view of whether I’m doing the form correctly.
Dec 11, 2008 — 5:16 pm
Most trainers do know good form. My beef with trainers is their choice of exercises and the volume and rep range is too high.
Hiring a trainer to learn proper form is not a bad idea.
Dec 11, 2008 — 5:17 pm
Guest MAS = MAS (using someone else’s PC)
Dec 12, 2008 — 7:26 am
Well, that gym probably won’t last very long if they torture every person who walks in the door. For some reason, people still don’t realize that you don’t have to follow the “no pain, no gain” mindset. Science is important when designing exercise programs, but that doesn’t substitute incorporating methods that have been tried in the real world. You have to give people results, but if they don’t keep coming back, you’re doing something wrong.
Dec 12, 2008 — 11:12 am
Agreed. Not everyone will drop out. Those that can survive the torture will continue going and probably thrive. Then more new members will see the success cases and sign up. Survivorship bias is a concept in investing and it applies here as well.
Dec 12, 2008 — 1:51 pm
Good point. It’s like the “Results not typical..” disclaimer on infomercials, they make a case for the product or service using outlier data.
Apr 17, 2015 — 1:02 pm
Yes, I have heard of certain cult/gyms that kill people real good. It’s even an honor to vomit.