Thursday, August 31, 2006

I am a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer in the Salem Oregon area. I moved here about a year ago from the East Coast. Back East, I worked in a gym as an "intern" while going to school to receive my credentials as a "Certified" personal trainer. I mostly shadowed the other trainers, observing their techniques. Once I completed my courses, I began working with athletes on the local area's college teams. Upon moving west, I quickly got a job in one of the popular large franchise chain gyms. That is when my views on the fitness industry changed. Like most people of my profession, I got involved in fitness because I like to help others achieve their goals, and teach them a thing or two in the process.
After my first month in this popular chain gym however, I had a meeting with my General Manager. As I sat across the desk, he looked me straight in the eye and asked me, "What is your first priority as a Personal Trainer here at *****?" To which I answered, "To get results for my clients." His reply, "I could care less if the members get results or not, Your first priority as a Personal Trainer here at ***** is to get our members excited about our personal training program so that they buy more, and more sessions!" "Understandable, from a bad business point of view I guess, but is it not more beneficial to me and the club if I get noticeable results for my clients, who are walking advertisements of our skills and knowledge?"
In the gyms, they expect the trainers to walk the floor like ravenous wolves and harass every member on a weekly basis, in hopes of "selling" someone on personal training. I believe that this diminishes the integrity of our profession. We are after all, health professionals! I do not see Doctors roaming the isles at Costco or Walmart trying to solicit potential patients (as they suggest trainers do!) I have never been one to take orders from anyone, especially someone in their early twenties who lives at home with Mommy, and knows nothing about life; so I knew I had to find another way.
To make matters worse, the longer I stayed at this gym, the more distressed I became. I found out by talking with the other trainers (whom they try to set against each other as "competitors"), that I was the only one who was actually certified! One guy was working at the casino just a week ago! Another was a lifeguard at a California beach! Another was in the process of taking an on-line course! In total disregard of the safety of their members, and in the face of the staffs inexperience, the gym still allowed these individuals to train their members. So much for integrity! All the larger gyms are doing it! They call it, "In house" certification. "Are you tired of your current job? Want an exciting career in the fast-growing fitness industry? You can be a ***** gym certified personal trainer in two weeks! Inquire with the manager about our in-house certification program."
All this, coupled with the cost of child-care (I have a total of eight children, of which four are in school for full days, three are young so they only go for two hours every other day, and a baby that just turned 7 months old), helped me make the decision to be a full time parent, stay home to raise my children, and in need of another income besides that of my wife, begin publishing (and selling) monthly booklets on health and fitness information that is not readily made available to the general public as another way to stay involved in the field I love.