Whole9 guest post by Coach Rut, who participates in the sport of weightlifting and is the current Kansas State Champion and the 2006, 2013 and 2014 National Master Champion at 94kg.
Locating a professional gym is a difficult task for today’s consumer. There is far too much information dispensed on a daily basis that truth and quality are difficult to determine.
Put up a nice website with some fit bodies and at least on the surface it can look appealing and credible. But wait-a-minute! Is this anyway to make a decision about your health & wellness?
Today I would like to offer some important considerations to help you before you make a decision regarding your health and fitness.
1. Gym Proximity
If the place you are considering is more than 15 minutes from your work or home, statistics show that you are less likely to make it a routine. Of course there are exceptions, but it’s a consideration you should not ignore when selecting a gym. Try to visit at their busiest time of day, when the most people will be there. You’ll get a better feel for the energy.
2. Pros & Cons List
Unless you are a serial gym hopper, you should start a Pros and Cons list for the top three places you are considering. Everything is in play. Some examples should be, hours of operation, experience of the staff and programmer, variety of equipment, cleanliness, vibe, energy. Look at this list to make sure you are not making a totally emotional decision.
3. Staff Education
In the last ten years the world has exploded with gyms and fitness trainers. It takes little more than 60 minutes and a credit card to obtain fitness trainer status. You should find out who you will be working with and how much education they have in the field.
Are they a computer programmer turned trainer? When did they leave the computer world to become a trainer? How much anatomy and physiology have they taken? Do they have a college degree in the field or was this a passion turned job?
Would you go to just any surgeon? Would you take your child to just any pediatrician? I consider this a very important consideration. Your buddy might be a great guy or gal but does this qualify them to direct your health and wellness?
Call me old fashion, but I like the idea of at least a four year degree for someone in charge.
4. Coaching and Training Experience
In 2004 a client of mine traveled to California on business. I was part of the first ten CrossFit affiliate gyms in the world. Since California was the home of the movement, he wanted to experience a CrossFit workout in Cali. The gym he selected was empty when he arrived for an evening workout. Eventually he was successful in locating an attendant in the back room. The computer was on and streaming a video of someone performing a deadlift. Not an educational video but just a random workout view.
Ten minutes later some other folks arrived and everyone gathered in a circle. This attendant appeared and it was clear that he was the instructor for the evening. He gave everyone a bar and a two minute demonstration of the deadlift. He assigned the task for the day, started a clock and disappeared.
Fortunately my client had been schooled on deadlifting and had little trouble with the assigned task. The others unfortunately did not fare as well. Watching his classmates that evening was, in his words, “a trainwreck” to watch.
I share this story to illustrate the importance of finding a gym with trainers who have years of experience. Anyone who has lasted 5 years or more in this business is probably a safe bet unless they have open and closed a couple of businesses. Dig deeper and ask some questions. If they have been in the same place at least 5 years you can exhale a little.
5. Training Philosophy
Training schools of thought vary. Those schools are too numerous to list. An experienced coach and trainer with any amount of experience will have practiced and assigned a number of different training philosophies during their career.
Is the programming built one a single method? How to they value strength in their programming mix? Do they believe in Weightlifting? Do they press overhead? Is a functional movement screen incorporated? Don’t be afraid to ask the gym owner what training philosophies they practice and why.
Trust Your Gut
If you have done a good job of asking questions you’ll be left with a decision to make. With your pros and cons list in hand, you need to make the call.
This is a decision that involves the only body you have and should not be based on price point, paint color or totally on personality. This involves the only body you have. I’ll leave you with this final thought: you don’t know what you don’t know.
Michael Rutherford (a.k.a. Coach Rut) has over a quarter century of fitness coaching experience including working with competitors from the ranks of international, Olympic, collegiate, high school, middle school and elementary school aged athletes. Coach Rut also has worked in hospital wellness environments and rehabilitation clinics. All of these experiences have allowed him to bridge the gap between the needs of the competitor and those of the man, woman and child seeking enhanced personal health and fitness. Coach Rut’s Boot Camp Fitness program is the area’s largest and most established group exercise program and his training services have assisted thousands of Kansas City residents over the last two decades. Coach holds academic degrees in biology and physical education, and Master’s degrees in exercise physiology and sports biomechanics. He is a certified Club Coach by the United States Weightlifting Association and is a CrossFit level III certified coach.
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