Get what you pay for at the gym

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Several nights ago, after presenting to a group on the value of combining fitness and diet to achieve safe weight loss, I was approached by an audience member who I'll refer to as "Mary."

Mary shared with me that she belonged to a fitness club but was "utterly and thoroughly" intimidated by the number of different machines, how to operate them, and the proper weight she should use to complete her target number of repetitions and sets.

Her concern speaks for many people who have shared with me feelings of self-consciousness as they make an effort to embrace fitness but are stifled by a lack of knowledge about what to do or how to begin. In the health club environment, many people will resort mostly to choosing one piece of equipment (usually cardio) and make that the only device they use regularly.

What this translates to is that a person can pay upwards of $35 or more per month to use one piece of equipment. Talk about a profitable business!

In an economy that has put increased leverage on the value of service, health club members should consider it a reasonable expectation to find out the level of support that is part of their membership. Too often, club members resign themselves to having to "figure things out" instead of asking club personnel for assistance. This can result in injury, boredom, and failure to achieve desired results.

While profitability and added revenue streams through personal training are often the end game of member support, I always recommend that gym "newbies" or those wishing to gain a better understanding of fitness machines approach staff members. Ideally, a personal trainer who is not working with a client is a great person to ask. If you can't find any, ask the front desk personnel if anyone is available to give you assistance.

While many gyms and trainers want to charge a fee for information, those gyms with a true commitment to customer service won't hesitate to get a member started on a machine, help them find the proper baseline weight to begin a set, or make recommendations as to how they can approach their fitness programs.

For individuals considering using a personal trainer, there is no better litmus of evaluating a trainer's interest in helping you become successful, than how helpful they are when approached with a need for information or assistance.

In defense of personal trainers, their willingness to assist you with a movement or completing a tough repetition should not always be construed as a "sales effort." There are many trainers who enjoy helping people get the most they can from their workouts and are not hesitant to offer instructional suggestions or offer assistance.

Today's fitness club member should consider themselves "empowered" to utilize all the services that are available to them.

Bill Victor is owner of Victor Fitness System Professional Fitness Trainers, Flashpoint Athletic Speed & Agility Specialists, and Performance Nutrition Consultants. He can be reached at victorfitsystems@gmail.com and online at http://theflashpoint.org and http://VictorFitnessSystems.com.