People Are Doing It At Your Gym: 6 Personal Trainer Secrets
It's been months since you signed up for that gym membership, and yet here you are, staring at a screen instead of working out. Maybe you're making the right choice. Sure, sitting on your ass will almost certainly kill you sooner, but at least you'll be spared the pain, lies, and body fluids you know a gym trip will bring. And at least you won't have to look at the smiling face of a personal trainer like Ryan George, who wants to tell you that ...
There's Plenty Of Sex At The Gym
I'm proud of the number of clients I've bedded ... because that number is zero. I did a home session once with a woman who suggested exercising in the nude (I advised her not to -- the pinching alone!). I had a male client invite me to a threesome with his wife (again, I said no; that is not what we mean by a "partner membership"). At a hotel gym, I worked with a client who wanted me to massage his glutes and asked if I'd ever been with a man (I told him that I wasn't trained in butt massage).
"No, I'm not trained in groin massages either."
Less ethical trainers take advantage, though. There was one I worked with who went after every attractive woman that came in. One day, a girl came storming onto the fitness floor and asked every staff member where he was, but he was nowhere to be found. A few minutes later, there was a loud commotion: The girl didn't know about the trainer's reputation and found out that he had been hooking up with someone else. The gym ended up canceling both women's memberships for fighting. They kept the trainer, though, as he had among the best sales numbers at the gym.
One high-end gym that I was working at tried to incentivize us to stay on-site all day by building a "sleeping" room for the personal trainers, complete with bunk beds. Yes, some genius thought it was a smart idea for a group of mostly young, attractive, and single trainers to have their own bedroom in the gym, and much to everyone's shock and amazement, the room became a love-den. I did try the room out for its intended purpose on one occasion, only to have my nap interrupted by two trainers working each other out. Eventually, we lost access to the room because the housekeeping staff refused to clean it.
"Seriously, how difficult is it to put the condoms IN the trash can?"
One tip: Never go barefoot in a steam room. At the place I work now, the steam room is pretty regularly stained with semen. It's most likely the result of jacking off pre-workout, which supposedly drops your blood pressure and relaxes you. Hey, they say you have to wipe only your sweat down after you're finished.
A Personal Trainer's Looks Matter Way More Than Their Qualifications
Like most of the service industry, gyms hire with an eye toward beauty. As a manager told me, I have to be what the client wants me to be. To female trainers, he said, "If it's a guy, you have to give him a really tough workout. When he's finished, take him to the massage table. Massage his legs, stretch him out, and when you are doing the hamstring stretch, lean over, expose a bit of cleavage and say, 'I'd like you to be my client. What kind of package can I put you down for?'"
"I'm very committed to your hap-penis."
It's pretty clear what kind of business he thought he was running, and it didn't involve a lot of careful vetting of qualifications. As a result, many of us didn't have any. I got certified through the NASM, but plenty of trainers I work with haven't. Some take multiple-choice online tests and use that, plus their visible muscles, to get hired. Don't assume your trainer is some former athlete or even passionate about fitness -- many join up just because they think it'll be an easy job.
But all that isn't necessarily the case. When I first joined one high-end gym, one of my fellow newbies was a stunning fitness model. She ended up getting lots of attention from the male clientele but couldn't turn that into paying clients and quit the field altogether. Meanwhile Adrian -- a middle-aged, slightly overweight female trainer with a thick Colombian accent -- banked $250k a year. She was at the top of her field because she knew her shit, plain and simple.
"The quicker you hit your fitness goals, the quicker I hit my financial ones. So pick that up. Now"
The Gym's Business Model Is Completely Dependent On Your Lack Of Motivation
I can confirm some of the stuff Cracked joked about in this video: We really do count on a certain percentage of members signing up but not using the facility. If most gyms were used by anything close to the full roster of members, they'd be way beyond capacity. One time, a major blizzard back in the early 2000s basically shut down the city, but we stayed open. Scores of lapsed members, with nothing else to do and against all expectations, made their way through our doors. It was the busiest day that gym ever had, there wasn't nearly enough equipment for everyone, and it was a goddamn madhouse. Luckily, it's pretty hard to get trampled in a treadmill stampede.
Treadmill-related injuries have dropped drastically ever since OK Go canceled their membership.
Beyond tricking the masses into memberships they'll never use, we're supposed to sign clients up for personal sessions because that's where the real money is. An hour of personal training might cost upward of $100, more than a whole month of gym membership. So once we've got people in the fitness room, we tell them the gym itself will do nothing for them, and they need one-on-one time if they want to improve. Not because of our knowledge, necessarily: The true selling point of a personal trainer is having to look somebody in the face and promise you'll come to the gym at a specific time and date. It's harder to stay on the couch when you've made that personal and financial commitment.
"You know what, just give me your wallet. You need to earn it back."
Sometimes they do fight dirty with your willpower, though. Right after 9/11, the fitness manager gave us this long-winded speech and included a line he wanted us to tell potential clients: The reason so many people died during 9/11 was that they were not fit enough to escape the buildings. It's a terrible argument, from what I heard. I never got around to using it, because hell is basically one big steam room -- can you imagine how much semen is on the floor? No thanks.
Personal Trainers' Advice Can Harm You
Here are the subjects a qualified trainer can speak on, ideally with a pumping dance beat backing them up: posture and movement, muscular strength and endurance, athletic performance, cardiovascular conditioning, and flexibility. That's the ideal list, remember -- we may not know anything about any of that stuff. We may just look rockin' in spandex. Whatever the case, we are most certainly not authorities on nutrition, rehabilitation, or anything medical. Yet in every gym you'll find trainers happy to advise you on all of those things no matter how disastrous the consequences.
"No, no, not the muscles, that's a common myth. You have to eat another man's heart to gain his strength."
I know one trainer whose client was struggling (due to trainer incompetence, mostly), so he said, "Tell your doctor you have asthma and have them give you a prescription for Advair. That will help you with your cardio." There was another who thought they were qualified to give diet advice to a diabetic. One client wanted to get in shape for her August wedding, so her trainer put her in a sauna suit to run on the treadmill the morning of the wedding to fit into her dress. And then there was the trainer who decided to fix a client's back pain using "core exercises" that obviously just made the pain worse. We barely dodged a lawsuit on that one.
Even I'm not immune to the occasional climb up my own ass. I used to tell clients doing bench presses to touch the barbell to their chests. Then I learned this was shredding up their shoulder joints, so I stopped, but others still insist on it. Leg extensions are what everyone uses to build their quads, but I tell people not to because they're ruining their knees in the process -- you'll still see a shiny leg extension machine in every gym. One trainer will tell you the lat pull has to go behind the neck, and I've seen that do terrible things to people's shoulders long-term, but I've heard other trainers insist that doing it in front of chest, like I say to, is also bad.
It's only a matter of time before it gets blamed for autism and gun violence.
You'll never know who's right until you screw yourself up doing it wrong.
Gym Employees Might Slip You Steroids
At one gym I worked at, the first Monday of every month, a guy in a suit would show up, change into workout gear, and take a black backpack into the gym with him. The man, who we dubbed "the doctor," would do a 30-minute session. At some point, he would casually place the backpack somewhere behind the pull-up station, and the fitness manager would later take it with him into the office. For the next week, all the Terminator-looking guys walked in to the fitness manager's office when the sales manager wasn't around. I got the feeling they weren't discussing that quarter's revenue.
"Oh my god, I finally saw Hamilton, and let me tell you, totally worth the wait!"
One trainer I know sends his clients to a doctor at an anti-aging clinic, advising them to claim that they're suffering from low testosterone. The doctor then runs a series of tests which magically confirm this, and the client, whose only real symptom is a lack of swoleness, skips away with a legal prescription for testosterone. You can even get your insurance to pay for shrinking your testicles.
In The End, The Gym Is Selling An Impossible Fantasy
Cracked has told you over and over that the number of people who lose a large amount of weight and keep it off is statistically zero. Now, I have worked with people who've transformed their bodies in phenomenal ways, so I'm not going to say it's impossible to lose weight, but it is much harder than most people think. A large part of that is because the fitness routines we prescribe you are unsustainable, and we know this. Most people will get through the first few days of a training routine just fine, and we'll tell them it will get easier, but in reality, it gets harder. If it starts to get easier, you'll stop seeing results. And anytime you take on a new project, whether it's starting a fitness routine or a custom dildo business, it steals from something else in your life.
"In the end, it was my free time with my kids that I was really giving the shaft to."
I try not to set unrealistic expectations: During my first meeting with a client, I extract as much info as possible on the person's lifestyle, mindset, goals, and exercise history, then try drafting a plan they can actually follow. But if gyms everywhere told clients the truth -- that there is no finish line; you can never say, "OK, now I have a six-pack, so I'm finished with my body and now I can focus all of my time on video games"; that maintaining that six-pack is now your part-time job for the rest of your life; and the older you get, the more work it will take -- a billion-dollar industry would disappear overnight. Forget rising health-insurance premiums -- that's how fat would cripple the economy.
Ryan George hosts The GymWits podcast and has a new book out, Freeweight Training Anatomy. Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for stuff cut from this article and other things no one should see.
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