Updated: Aug 27
I recently went on a vacation trip and could not escape a few impressions. Not only, despite it being a 5 star resort, was the hotel gym out to date and lacking modern equipment (think 90’s gym filled with inefficient machines and mostly cardio equipment) but during my stay there, I was the only person actually doing any kind of real strength training.
Also, being outside of our little "bubble" of a quite unique High Intensity Gym focussing on strength and conditioning, it quickly became a reminder of the status of the general population's fitness. It sadly seemed like people genuinely did not know what is actually a proper way to train. That included a personal trainer at the hotel gym with a guest client.
Yes these people were on vacation like myself and many (myself including to be honest during most vacations) don’t bother to train or eat 100% right. Yet was easy to tell that even outside of vacation these issues and lack of fitness were present as is obvious in our current society.
The fitness industry is supposed to be your go to place for professional, credible and knowledgeable advice in how to improve your health and lifestyle. How to make better choices, change your habits, train efficiently and earn the results you worked for.
However in reality, the fitness and wellness industry is failing tremendously and a lot of it is caused by greed, malpractice and malintent. The global fitness industry is worth 100 billion dollars. Unfortunately this attracts both the good and the bad, both on a corporate as well as a local level.
More than ever, people are becoming increasingly obese, living sedentary lifestyles (even when they don’t have to) and confused about how to make positive changes. People simply don’t know what to do anymore and we can't blame them. It has become a wild jungle of misinformation and false claims. There are many reasons for this both on all levels, which is what spurred on this lengthy article.
At FitGuana ,we wholeheartedly believe in informing our clients, educating them and showing them the right path. Our business is built on ethical practices, coming from a strong passion for fitness and health. We live and breathe what we do. It bothers us when these ill intended practices occur because we know people deserve better. We want to do better and be part of the solution, not continuing the same old problem. Our trainers are both highly educated and experienced which is pretty clear in our bios and accomplishments.
Here are some of the things which show the worst of the fitness industry so avoid them when you can:
Certifications: There are some great sources to become certified but also many awful ones. There is no central organization or authority which verifies or quality controls fitness certifications in the United States.
Dig into your trainer’s background and see what experience they have, what and how they have studied the field. Additional note: There is an X-Factor as well. Training is both an art and a science as every individual or group of people are different.
Some trainers may have 20 certifications but still not get it and vice versa. Coaching is about exercise knowledge, nutrition, analysis, training programming, physiology but also about class management (think efficiency and creativity), sports psychology and so much more. A great coach has either already completed a long path of various experiences and education or is on it and willing to continue learning.
Some “trainer” who has one piece of paper or is simply an athlete him/herself and think they’re already an established coach will not be your best source. It is an always continuing journey to become a better trainer every step of the way.
Trainers or gyms who are too damn full of themselves. It is very easy to write things on a company’s website when you’re the one writing it. For example:
... is the most talked about workout
One 30 minute session is the equivalent of a 3 hour workout…
The (workout or brand name) killer…
#1 rated trainer blah blah blah
Oh how easy it is to write empty words. When a trainer or gym wins an award or has consistent (and verified) solid reviews, it is worth paying attention to.
When a website says these things about its own brand, it is wise to think otherwise. This is not about confidence as someone who is capable and confident doesn’t feel the need to write such unverified claims about themselves. The team at FitGuana personally believes in providing people with objective information and letting them judge for themselves. Anything else is manipulative.
Sales pitches such as:
Burn 1,000 calories in one workout
Typical results are 10lbs weight loss in one month
Gain 10lbs of lean mass in 30 days
We have all seen (too many) of these false claims but unfortunately they do work from a sales perspective. People are caught believing them even when they shouldn’t.
These claims are 100% untrue and may have occurred for only a select few. However, most people won’t burn more than 500 calories / hour due to their body mass and many won’t lose a certain amount of real weight (outside of water weight loss) over a certain time period by training only.
These are only a few examples. Please also note that most “calorie counter” widely overestimate your calorie burn.
When you read up on trainers and gyms, look at their results and education instead, their personal athletic endeavors and HOW they do things. If they do 45 minute workouts but no real nutrition guidance, how are you supposed to loose weight? If they have outrageous claims, ask for real proof. No self written articles, but studies or evidence.
Before and after pictures.
Yes sometimes they’re real and some trainers or facilities are excellent. Others actually pay people who are in excellent shape to gain weight and then take another picture which are then used as “before” pictures.
Other times, you can easily take both the same day by eating certain foods, have different positioning or muscle tension as well as different lighting.
One person can look 20lbs. heavier or lighter with these methods alone on the same day. At FitGuana, we don’t ask for before and after pictures. After all, who wants these images floating around the internet? Trust us, gyms ask you for their marketing benefit, not so much for yours.
Hiding pricing and insisting on coming in for a “Free” analysis or mobility check up.
This is a very common strategy. The website say something like: “Oh we can’t tell you how much since it’s such a good deal. We need people to come in for a free mobility check up or analysis and then come up with a plan”.
What they don’t really tell you is that they want to get you in the door, try to impress you with fitness industry jargon and play into your emotions or mental state to make you sign up in that moment.
Often times they will try to sell you more than you actually need. Again, ask them exactly how they are planning on (allegedly) “fixing you” and tell them you’ll think about it.
I’m allergic to nonsense and I enjoy research, therefore I would recommend comparing and digging a bit deeper into the basics so you understand what’s being sold to you.
Finding a trainer or gym should not be as manipulative as the typical car shopping experience (sorry car dealers but prove me wrong next time). That is why we at FitGuana introduced Free Week Trials into our area when we opened and have always been transparent about our no contract pricing and what you receive as part of our service.
The never evolving machine rich, boring “gym” gym.
It is mind boggling how the same gym concept, filled with machines and average classes has failed for decades yet remains somewhat the go to place for many individuals.
What percentage of people visiting these old style gyms ever reach their goals? It is shockingly low due to lack of motivation, accountability and guidance.
But there are so many machines and classes, how is that possible? Well if you’re not guided properly in what to do, how many sets and reps to do, rest times, heart rate tracking, sequence of exercises, muscle group focus, form control, nutrition advice and so much more… it’ll be hard to make real progress. Knowledge and motivation are two key ingredients.
Also, often times these types of gyms sell as many memberships as they can for a lower rate and cross their fingers people don’t actually show up. Otherwise they have capacity issues or can’t handle the crowds. Then there are also the trainers scouring the floor, trying to pick up personal training sessions because they’re underpaid (or not paid at all) if they don’t fulfill a certain amount of sessions. No thank you.
Yes you will find some powerful individuals there or sport specific athletes who are working out off season etcetera. but how many well rounded athletes will you find?
The average person who comes twice a week, uses the same two of three machines and spends the majority of the time on cardio equipment, are they truly living up to their potential? With all these gyms around, why are people not reaching their goals?
It’s not about strength versus cardio. Both have a place in the field yet how you piece them together, perform your activities and keep clients accountable are much overlooked factors in coaching.
In terms of traditional gyms as you find them in most places, here are a few myth busters:
Machines are motion restrictive and not advised unless you have mobility restrictions or recovering from an injury etcetera. Even then there are better choices that can be made.
Cardio machines will not get you in shape or make you loose weight.
Weight training will not make you bulky unless you live a very specific lifestyle with a high training load.
Zumba or Pilates classes will not make you strong and lose weight by itself. Side note: if you enjoy doing these types of classes, we applaud you. You should do what makes you happy and keep moving. However the goals should be realistic and promises made should be honest.
The upper body movements you do during spinning don’t do squat (pun intended).
Most gyms don’t use the “functional” equipment or areas to their full potential.
Most trainers simply are simply stuck in their old ways, lack skill and don’t have the experience to manage many people in challenging, efficient sessions. See point #1.
Strength and conditioning can simply not be done with small 10lbs weights and step aerobic boxes. It should be named something else.
“Functional” and “metabolic” are overused and often misunderstood terms used in marketing.
If you’re going to a gym because it has a sauna, you’re doing it wrong.
The “EPOC” effect (elevation in metabolism after a training session) is nowhere near as significant as many facilities or brands claim. You do not need to spend 10 minutes in the “Red” Zone to get the same results and the calories burnt are not as high as claimed. Studies demonstrate there is a 6-15% afterburn so if you burn 500 calories in a training session, you would burn an additional 30-75 calories afterwards. Is that going to make a convincing difference in your progress? Even at the highest number, that’s less than 1 medium chocolate chip cookie so if the sales pitch is based on EPOC, think again.
A 15 minute circuit with light weights and body weight are not significant enough to count as true “strength” training and won’t help you, especially if you spend 30 minute on steady state cardio machines throughout the same workout.
A 30 minute workout will never get you the same results as a 60 minute workout if you train right. Period.
Unclear Data for money gains
One of the biggest issues in the fitness industry is the lack of clear and proven data. There are so many conflicting articles floating around driven by greed, money, corporate interests and fitness names, even small fitness businesses; trying to make a quick profit.
Remember, articles are unproven pieces of information which may or may not be true. This is the problem of our time. Readers blindly believe articles because they’re published on some random website. This means nothing. If you are interested in real data, ask your trainer (and ask him to verify or prove it) or follow a credible source who publishes real data. **That is why FitGuana has a private Facebook group to share real information in order to educate our members.**
Ultimately, key is to be as informed as you can and be critical. Keep in mind, this is a big decision to make and IT’S OK TO ASK LEGITIMATE QUESTIONS.
If the service provider is bothered or can’t answer them, that will tell you what you need to know.
This problem is highly present in both fitness as well as food products and services. The confusion and fraudulent claims made are simply disturbing. Keep in mind nutrition supplements are not verified or tested by the FDA and therefore can be a risky investment of money and health. Some (loosely interpreted) examples:
Some individuals still believe a 1,000 calorie diet is the best way to lose weight. Please do not.
Isometric training claims that it’s the equivalent of an efficient, dynamic training program (which is an absolutely ridiculous claim).
“Superfood” or “Healing” products which can cure everything as well as make you lose weight, cure baldness and have the libido of a 22 year old…. All at the same time! Quick tip: There are no proven dietary supplements which aid significant weight loss. Period.
The new elastic band which is completely redesigned and costs 4 times as much but will guarantee you to loose 10lbs in your first 3 weeks or get your money back! Shipped from another continent so there goes your guarantee…
Please be critical and don’t be easily influenced. There are thousands of ways to throw your money at things which are a waste and the good, proven options are harder to find.
However, do your homework and make sure you get it right. After all, if there was one method or food which caused amazing results, don't you think more people would be in better shape?...
Capacity Claims such as “We only take 100 clients and have 4 spots left so act fast!” I call bullshit. This is just another sales manipulation. No facility will turn clients away and it’s a way to make people act fast. Don’t fall into that trap.
Now that we went over some of the manipulations, lies and tricks of the fitness industry, here's what we do differently.
These are simply stated facts and you're more than welcome to come check it out and make up your own mind:
At FitGuana, we have built a unique and different facility. It’s our belief that the old fitness concept has failed and the focus needs to change. We don't feel the need to lie and manipulate.
Instead we work hard, are truthful with clients, use efficient and safe training methods and offer a full experience for a fair price. How do we do that? By being straightforward and efficient. We take a no nonsense approach with our training methods, pricing, business management etcetera.
We think differently, act differently and operate differently. At our Hybrid Athletic Club, you experience: