We were secretly shopped by a reporter a few weeks ago evaluating the different gyms in Ann Arbor. The article came out in the Ann Arbor Observor City Guide.
Thank you for the evaluation and it is nice that we received
an A+. When looking at the criteria for rating the various facilities, the
question comes to mind: Is it the facility that creates tangible results or is
it the training provided? The question inspired the following rant:
Too often, people use
superficial means to judge the value or substance of a thing. As Americans, we
judge success and failure based on appearance, we judge the value of something
based on 20 second sound bites or what the latest hot training item is
according to the glossy magazine. Our perspective on gyms and training is
somewhat different. First, any training is better than no training. Second,
people do not have unlimited time or budgets for training and finally a mode of
training that keeps people consistent. Competition between "gyms” does not
really exist. The real competition any "gym" has is with the couch,
laziness and the "I will do it later" mind set.
In reality, gyms should be select on one primary criterion:
Getting YOU what YOU want out of YOUR training. Too many people go to the gym
with undefined motives, unspecific goals and as a result they get very little
out of the training/gym membership. If the real goal of working out is “good
health” or “fitness” then people should take the time to define what these
terms mean to them. We can offer several
definitions of good health and fitness but it really comes down to the person
that looks in the mirror with you everyday and what their definition of good
health and fitness is for you. Keep in mind that these definitions change at
different stages of our lives.
Some people, let's call them twentysomething-year-olds are
primarily interested in appearance, when we reach your 30s people are so often
concerned with appearance but are beginning to think of long-term health versus
just superficial needs. Once we're in our 40s, the toll of our career on health
begins to show up with some of our peer group meeting untimely ends due to
lifestyle and lack of attention to health long-term. The resulting change in perspective
of to the gym changes from superficial to moving toward maintaining the running
of the machine. The perspective shifts again with the milestone of 50 and a
real looming horizon of retirement and quality-of-life issues that accompany
nearly 30 years of sitting behind a desk. Then people retirement age and
quality-of-life truly is the primary mission of any fitness program. At every
stage there is a percentage of motivation that comes from appearance basic
goals and a percentage that comes from what could be called real fitness goals.
The percentage seems to inverse as time goes on and we age.
It really comes down deciding what you want out of your
training long term. Many people begin with the idea that they just want to get “in
shape” or run a marathon or 10K or have some other specific fitness goal to
help them reach wherever short-term benchmark they set for themselves. From our
perspective any training that keeps people active, moving and keeps people
strong is good. The amenities of a gym have less to do with a person success
than does the training is provided there. Too many buying decisions are made by
selling shiny mirrors, rows of equipment, or the size of their locker rooms or
big screen TVs. None of these factors actually help people get in shape. People
need to make a decision of what they're after and what they're willing to go
through to get it.
The next real question is how do you measure your success?
It reminds us of what used to be called S.M.A.R.T goals: Specific, measurable, attainable,
realistic and timely. One of our clients is a high school science teacher who
reminds us that things should be specific measurable repeatable and
independently verifiable for it to be science. Let's take a look at those and
combined them into a model that can work for the person who has a limited
amount of time to devote to their training. The true gold standard is work
capacity: The ability to do specific work in a specific time period. If someone
runs a 10K the first time in two hours, spent some time training and they do it
in an hour, their capacity work has increased dramatically. The more work you can do, the better your overall health and fitness. Fairly simple.
Price is often the only criteria people have when selecting
a gym. It comes down to the special of the month or the discount for the
one-year prepaid in full membership or some of our hocus-pocus that will help
people sign on the dotted line and purchase a membership they will only use
sporadically. In today's helter-skelter world of deadlines, meetings, kids
going to various games or practices, and greater work for less pay in today's
economy many consumers of fitness only usually have 3 to 4 hours a week they
can truly devote to their training. The question changes from price and how
much “fitness” you can cram into an hour and get the best results from.
There really is a lot to be said for the good happy happy
joy joy feelings people have at the end of the training session. In reality, it
is pretty difficult to consistently measure the feeling of well-being is a part
of the training. We suggest people measure
the actual performance results of training.
All gyms are expensive when you do not go. Get your ass
off the couch and move.