Welcome to Candyland

TAGS: personal training, strength training, Elitefts Info Pages, barbell, training

As I approached the entrance to Fit N’ Fun, a large neon sign displaying the facility’s name caught my eye. When I walked in the front door, I noticed several nice paintings and exotic plants in the lobby. A woman and a man, who both worked in the club, approached me. They offered to give me a tour of the facility. Before I knew it, another employee was offering to show me around. I felt like I was being attacked by vultures. As I indicated to the sales personnel, I could care less who showed me around. After a few minutes of discussion among themselves, the young woman informed me that she would give me the royal tour. I thought to myself, “This will be great. A royal tour of Candyland.”

The first thing the woman showed me was a room named Cardio Carnival. It had probably twenty televisions and 100 different machines including ellipticals, bikes, treadmills, rowing machines, and more ellipticals. She explained to me that this is the most important section in the gym and went on to tell me the numerous benefits that these machines offered. She frequently expressed that the most common benefit was the ease of using these machines.

In the next room, we looked at the Hercules Strength Circuit. This circuit was lined with machines resembling spaceships. The employee explained to me how easy and safe the machines were to use and stressed that they were great for men as well as women. They could also be used by top-level athletes because they provided less stress to the body, which in turn allowed athletes to perform their sport better.

The free weight area was next on the agenda. It consisted of chrome dumbbells, two benches, two Smith machines, and two incline benches. My tour guide explained to me that this area was for serious athletes only and then went on to explain why the bench and incline bench press were the most important tools for competitive athletes.

Finally, we arrived at the aerobics room. Signs boasting the numerous benefits of aerobics were posted everywhere. The employee showed me the two-pound dumbbell hand weights used for power aerobics and explained the benefits of using hand weights to enhance strength while training your heart and lungs at the same time.

The sauna and whirlpool were the last items on the list. I was informed that both of these were great for weight loss. The tanning beds were also great for weight loss and helped build mental strength. I asked the employee how they built mental strength, and her reply was that they aided people in looking better, which helped their confidence levels and allowed them to train more efficiently.

After the grand tour, it was time to sit down and sign the papers, which would allow me to become a privileged member of Fit N’ Fun.  I started to tell the employee a little of my background and profession, and she started to panic. She excused herself to go to the restroom as I told her about my work in the industry. A few minutes later, a man approached me and informed me that the employee I had been speaking with was sick and wouldn’t be able to continue speaking with me. He informed me that he was the manager and would be able to help me with anything that I needed. I let the manager know that the sales tactics used by his employee were very misleading and that this facility wasn’t equipped with the tools or staff to train anyone who was serious about fitness.

So let’s examine what was wrong with Fit N’ Fun. First, let’s take a look at the Cardio Carnival. Just as the name implies, it looks like a carnival, not a workout area. Training isn’t supposed to be easy. Some of these machines take away stabilization, which is so important in real life human movement. They are detrimental to natural central nervous system functions that take place when a movement occurs. The machine that I’d like to particularly mention is the elliptical. These things belong in a toy store. You get on the machine and glide through the air. Virtually no impact takes place in the joints. No impact. That’s great. No, quite the contrary, Walking or running requires impact in the joints. This machine deconditions the body to absorb impact, allows minimal leg flexion (movement is primarily generated from the hips), and decreases balance and proprioception. In his book Facts and Fallacies of Fitness, Mel Siff discusses the numerous problems presented by this apparatus. I’m not saying don’t ever use these machines. Just make sure you understand the applications to real life movements.

Next, there’s the Hercules Strength Circuit. Machines are inferior to free weight movements. They inhibit stabilizers, destroy neuromuscular patterns, often begin from mechanically weak positions, require no balance, and can often lead to injury due to repetitive restricted lines of movements and ranges of motion performed over and over. They have their place, but their place is very limited for most trainees, particularly athletes.

The free weight area was barely visible among all of these nearby spaceships. The facility had no platforms, squat racks, or anything that resembled serious strength training. Sadly, this is common practice in Candyland gyms. They don’t want serous trainees in their establishment because they may scare away the customers. I have plenty of serious athletes in my gym as well as general fitness enthusiasts. Guess what? They all get along fine and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aerobic classes that make you more powerful and stronger using two pound hand weights? I seriously doubt that the employees of this facility actually believe this. At least, I hope they don’t. This is a great marketing tool because it’s an easy way to become stronger and more powerful. I’d have to write an entire article addressing this ridiculous statement, but I’ll save you the boredom. Use commonsense.

The funniest statement I heard while touring Candyland was that the tanning bed built confidence. I have hundreds of people come into my facility and use the tanning beds, but they wouldn’t dare set foot in the gym. Why? Because of laziness and a lack of self-confidence.

If you have frequented many commercial gyms, you’ve probably encountered this problem. It’s a growing epidemic. In my opinion, these quacko shops should be shut down. Just like other fields, this one is heavily influenced by money. The public wants easy and easy sells. However, easy also deceives the public. It’s possible to run a facility honestly and still appeal to athletes as well as general fitness enthusiasts. My facility is unique in light of its mixture of people. I have professional athletes as well as housewives who just want to get “toned” (funny word).

Total Body Fitness is equipped with the basic general fitness tools as well as sledgehammers, kettlebells, barrels, Olympic weightlifting platforms, tires, pulling sleds, ladders, cones, padded walls, and anything else needed for athletic training. If you’re ever around the Winchester, Kentucky area, stop by and check out my facility. I’m sure I’ll have something that might interest you.

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