My Big Box Gym Confession
First of, I wanted to say congratulations to a few colleagues of mine who attended IHRSA this past weekend and a big congratulations to some of the first time speakers. This is a monster of a conference for the fitness industry so I think that it is pretty cool that I have some colleagues that have people who want to hear what they have to say at something of this magnitude.
Today gives me a chance to pick some of these people's brains on what they took out of the conference. I love getting away to these events because the best and the brightest are some of the most high energy, exciting people that you could ever encounter. It is also great to meet new people from all over the globe and hear a little about how they are making their mark in fitness. I also get a chance to tell my story to those who want to listen.
There is something that I am always somewhat reserved about when I am at these conferences . I am not sure if it is my own self consciousness of the topic, or if it is because it is because of the heat it takes within the training community. Today however, I am going to come clean and say that I am a big box trainer. Not to mention in the biggest of this big box franchise. The staff in one facility is large and departmentalized, membership is massive and the sheer size does bring its frustrations. I have been fortunate enough over the past few years to see some extremely well oiled hybrid gyms and seeing the contrast does make it hard on the head coming back. I don't want to get into the negatives though. This past week I have seen more and more heat put on the big box gyms and I actually want to defend them because what some of these writers do not get a chance to see is the people within these companies and within all departments who are actually looking to make a difference and make their mark in the fitness industry.
I have worked with a lot of trainers over the past number of years and have seen a lot of them come and go. The big box is often a chance for anyone entry level to get their feet wet when it comes to training. Some of them hang around but a good number of them take off. For the ones that do hang around however I have to say my hat goes off because I have the pleasure with working with some extremely bright and driven fitness pros who live and breathe what they do. These guys are all over the place taking in education and when they are in town they are digging deep on the gym floor both for themselves and their clients. These are the guys that keep me stimulated and keep me sane. For the guys I work with and for any other big box trainers out there sharing the same drive my hat goes off to you. You know who you are. I also have the pleasure of working and communicating with other trainers wearing the same polyester uniform who are finding their own and taking it elsewhere. There are guys now regularly contributing to t-nation, guys who are speaking and teaching with PTA Global all over Canada and the United States and being accompanied by some brilliant minds in the business. For myself I have had the pleasure of working with two of my close friends and fellow big box trainers on projects like Move Improve. These guys are no slouches either.
Some of the guys that I report to are far from big box. My fitness manager is in his position because he can lead by example. The guy knows his stuff and he is into what he does . On top of that his message is clear. Become a better professional and let the dollars speak for themselves. I also want to tip my hat to the guys even higher up the ladder because of the effort that they put into their personal trainers. They have laid out platforms for growth that I would have otherwise approached alone as my position has evolved from trainer to trainer/mentor/educator. They even support me in attending the events where they often receive the most criticism. For that I am grateful.
I cannot argue with some of the criticism that the big box model receives. To be honest I agree with a lot of it. However, I have had the chance to meet and work with fitness pros underneath this system that put
everything into their craft and it shows in the lives they are able to change. I know that it is unlikely that I will be where I am forever but I know that I have no regrets developing within the large chain system as it has taught me a lot. There can still be brilliance in the big box.