Photo: Flickr / silent7seven
A personal trainer—writing under the username mterwall—recently dished on the corporate gym industry on Reddit.The trainer, who says he studied accounting and exercise science at University of California Santa Barbara, said he was unnerved by how these gyms take advantage of consumers.
“The sales team is under ridiculous pressure”
“Sales persons feed the training staff new clients and are paid commission as long as they hit their target quota, if the quota isn’t met they are paid minimum wage,” mterwall writes. If the target isn’t hit, “they are essentially working 12 hour days, 6 days a week for about 8 bucks an hour.” Among the shady tactics these sales persons take: “telling you you are in imminent danger of heart disease” (even though they’re unqualified to do so), saying “just about anything to make you feel like you need training,” and offering a “free consultation in order to rope you into a contract.”
Even worse, mterwall writes “they would start off with an arbitrary method of body fat measurement: BMI index, tape measure or bioelectrical impedance (the cheap little body fat machine you hold in your hand); all three methods being the least accurate in terms of giving an accurate reading. Usually the one that gives the most advantageous (whichever makes you fattest) reading is used.”
During the training session (aka hazing), clients are “pushed to their limits (again with no reference to their prior medical history) in order to show them that they cannot exercise on their own and they are grossly out of shape,” mterwall says.
“Personal trainers are not nutritionists”
“Personal Trainers, are, in general, not qualified to give nutritional or supplement advice,” writes mterwall. “We are not nutritionists and should not be advising (outside of basic nutritional knowledge) unless we have some sort of history in nutrition.”
Problem is, some trainers are required to give supplements and even have selling quotas, something mterwall says is “extremely frightening given many supplements can affect heart functioning and have very little government oversight in terms of safety.”
Stealing and overcharging are rampant
“There were a number of instances where a few ‘bad apple’ trainers/sales persons would steal, overcharge or participate in some sort of illegal activity against clients/members,” writes mterwall. “I understand that these are actions taken on the part of individuals, but the gym could have tightened their internal controls or taken other measures to prevent these things from happening.”
Here are a few tips he offers to stay out of harm’s way:
1. Always ask your trainer/sales person their background. “It’s not rude at all,” writes mterwall. “It is your body they are working with and your health at risk, you have every right to know their qualifications.”
2. Ask for a copy of your contract and read it. “Generally there’s a buyer’s remorse period and you can get out with very little penalty,” says the trainer.
3. Ask if the trainer will train you independent of a gym contract. You may pay less while they earn more, he says.
See the rest of mterwall’s tips on Reddit.