by Michael Wohltmann

I think back to the days when I was a newbie at the gym. I had an envy towards athletes that could perform well and the bodies that looked like they were capable of super human feats. I recall the many days as I spoke with my peers about being the likes of Arnold and I think all our gym goals had a piece of his persona in mind where we all wanted to be strong bodybuilders.

It was the days before personal training and we relied on articles in bodybuilding magazines to give us an edge. Those articles did not often translate well as the underlying results were induced more by pharmacological substances and perhaps some fabrication by the writers.

It was tough to achieve our goals as there was no real guidance. Collectively, we would watch each other and talk about our routines. Often, you could get diametrically opposed views on the same intended result. Still, anyone stronger, built better, and leaner was considered more valid with more valuable pieces of information to use. Sometimes, in the middle of a workout routine, an elder would interrupt and ask why you would do such an exercise in that way. There and then, some of my greatest learning curves were realized as long as I could check my ego aside and realize I needed to be more of a student to learn than the teacher.

It was hard to get big and strong and you had to be weird by normal standards. You had to watch what you ate and drank and often had to be the brunt of some teasing and jokes by buddies as the inhaled pizzas and drank all weekend. The blender was something that was inside your suitcase when traveling and no formal clothes fit you well. Eventually, amongst spotting each other, we all befriended each other at the gyms to support our “weird” lifestyle.

Today, I do not see that same crowd anymore. Sure Arnold is older and no longer having full nude shots like in the the original Terminator and steroids are harder to come by. Trainers are now mainstream and relatively affordable but there are many people that still choose to do their workouts and goals all by themselves. Planet Fitness greatly impacted the health club world with their self serve $10 model and yet what has happened?

To think that someone can come in to a club, throw their Ipod on and achieve anything really noticeable is for the most part absurd. When I ask the top people in the industry and by these I mean trainers, athletes and dedicated fitness enthusiasts a question like: “When was the last time you were stumped in your workout?” The resounding answer is something like “within the past week”. I then ask how often are you stumped or road blocked and they will tell me something like “All the time”.

So, if the cream of the crop are stumped all the time, what chance does the person that is a complete newbie coming into a club going to roadblocked to achieve anything? I think that answer is quite rhetorical. They eventually figure it out and decide to either not worry about it or decide to not come anymore. If results are perceived as winning, I would find it hard to believe that folks don’t want to win more.

I really cannot think of another endeavor whereby someone would not at least start out with a little help or guidance to begin something new. Heck, even fixing your toilet requires talking to someone at Home Depot. In a $10 gym, there are no trainers and frankly, the serious people do not go there either. With no help or people pushing to the next level, what chance does a newbie have to achieve any level of fitness there?

When you decide to begin your new routine, ask for help if it is not provided. What is the point of having a membership if you never enjoy or achieve any of the results you came in for? Get a trainer.

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