Confessions of a Fitness Junkie

Public trainers instead of Personal ones?

Posted on: August 15, 2011

The other day, I was reading an article on Fit Bottomed Girls about not allowing yourself to be intimidated when you’re working out at the gym. I know that’s easier said than done. Even after almost a year and a half of frequenting my gym 4-5 times a week, I still find myself second guessing what I’m doing, wondering if everyone is watching me and thinking how I don’t belong there, etc.

In the article, one sentence really started me thinking:

At my gym, many of the fit bodies are actually trainers who either make a living off helping others in the gym or just do it to share their knowledge.

I know at my gym, the personal trainers are clearly identified with blue shirts, sometimes with name tags, and they’re always with paying clients (or supposed to be with their paying clients, but that is for another post!), so they’re not really there to be a resource for anyone who isn’t paying for their knowledge. Is there a gym out there with trainers that aren’t personal trainers, but public trainers?

I mean, think about how nice it would be. Trainers always on the floor, maybe they’re working out alongside the other members, or maybe they’re just walking the floor, looking for any helpless soul that needs assistance with a machine, or just needs a pointer on using correct form so they don’t hurt themselves. I don’t know about you, but I’d pay a little extra to go to a gym with a helpful staff like that. Heck, I might even apply to be a trainer like that!

So, I guess that’s my question. Are there gyms out there that feature trainers in this sort of capacity? If so, where are they? Would you ask for help from a public trainer, if they were available to you?

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4 Responses to "Public trainers instead of Personal ones?"

Hi Mindy,

My name’s Lee Morgan; great to visit your site! I’m actually the one who penned that submission to the Fit Bottom Girls blog, and it’s awesome to hear that the article has raised a few questions. I totally understand what you mean about pay-fer trainers versus “public” trainers. In my experience with the YMCA, the staff are pretty involved–as you mention, roaming the floors, observing, even saying hi and offering assistance when they feel the person is looking for it. I guess this is where my post stemmed from, since I generally feel these faces are readily approachable and genuinely happy to help.

I think the biggest thing is noticing when people are “looking” for pointers but are a tad shy to ask for help. I suppose if you’re a trainer and you’re taking care of the floor activities, you’ll be in a better position to spot those in need of some pointers, as opposed to the staff who just kind of sit around waiting for questions. I’ve actually seen both in my lifetime–the active and the passive staff, so I can see how one type can make for a less intimidating experience than the other.

Personally, I like to make it a point to “befriend” or at least say hi to the active trainers. It’s nice meeting anyone who takes a genuine interest in you as a client–or fellow member, for that matter, so I do my part to get to know them as well. Creating and maintaining this atmosphere makes me feel more comfortable asking for help or advice on anything fitness-related, regardless of their sex. Some women find men more intimidating, which I can understand, especially if they’re a little gruff or strikingly attractive (heh). But if you’ve established a sort-of “working relationship” with this trainer, I don’t think that would put me off asking for help.

Do you find your trainers approachable? I’ve been with more corporate gyms, and I find the staff is absent or totally wrapped up in their own thing. Maybe it’s the “community focus” of the YMCA, but the one I’m at in Montreal certainly makes you feel welcome.

Best of luck in your fitness journey!

Cheers,

Lee
customizingfitness.com

Thanks so much for your comment, Lee! I used to be a longtime member of our local YMCA, and the trainers at my location weren’t nearly as helpful as it sounds like the ones at your location are. I’m guessing it’s one of those things that just depends on the facility and the people working there.

I’m currently with a corp gym – more out of convenience than anything. My personal trainer is probably the best one on staff there. She is very approachable, and I’ve seen general members ask her questions and she’s usually fine to answer them. It’s a different story for most of the other trainers, though. Most of them just sit at the desk, waiting for their next client to show up. Then there are a few that will actually ignore their PAYING clients while on the floor to go and flirt with other members – luckily, I have only witnessed this, but if one of those trainers ever approached me when they’re supposed to be paying attention to a client, they will get an earful from me!

Thanks again for commenting. Love your site!

Hi Mindy,

Oh wow the flirting while on the clock–now if that were my dollar being spent, I’m sure you’d hear from me too! There are SOME trainers at my gym (the few bad apples I suppose) who do kind of loaf around and not get much done, but on the whole, I guess I’m pretty lucky!

Your trainer sounds great, which is awesome too seeing as you’re currently at a corporate gym. However, as you note, there’s pros and cons obviously. Convenience, possible membership discounts, location, and so forth are huge considerations, so it’s nice that you have all that and your awesome trainer. Often, I think, we find ourselves trading one (convenience) for the other (service/personable staff). It just depends on what you ultimately need from your gym. Right now, I’m actually just happy that the gym is close to my work so I can go right after I clock out. I think I’d need a lot more motivation if I had to commute a long time to and from the gym.

Thanks for your kind words about my site. I’ve just been exploring yours and you have some great info here too. Cheers to a fellow gym rat and fitness enthusiast! Hope to talk to you soon.

Best,

Lee
customizingfitness.com

Hi Minday,

As someone who used to go to a corporate gym, my experience was also that the trainers on the floor were clearly “marked” by the shirts they were wearing and usually only on the floor when they were with paying personal training clients.

What I have found now is what I consider the greatest thing EVER!! I live in Florida, and as far as I know, there are only facilities here locally accompanied by one in Georgia and one in Ashville, NC; I belong to a place called “Hard Exercise Works”. The concept here is a Navy Seal type workout, mixture of cardio, weights, calisthenics, rope climbing, push ups, pull ups, etc.

While you are not one on one with a personal trainer, the classes are manageble, I think the most people that have been in my 6am class was about 14, and there is ALWAYS a trainer, usually 2, on the floor during workouts.

The trainers are encouraging, help with form, and give you that extra “push” when necessary and the vibe during these classes is ALWAYS motivating. We are always pushing each other with a “you got this” or other words to make you push just a little harder.

These classes are CHALLENGING even for seasoned exercisers and there are always modifications for those with a lower fitness level. There are big people, little people, older people, teenagers, etc in these classes and they make the workouts work for everyone.

I can only compare it to like a Cross Fit facility, but a little less weight-lifting-y and a little more general fitness oriented.

Check them out at HardExerciseWorks.com, I have been going for almost 3 months now, 5 days a week at 6am and have not missed even one workout. I LOVE it!!

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