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Welcome to 2017, another opportunity to make this year one of the best years of your life, both mentally and physically.  It is my goal over the next 1,344 words to help you understand the various types of gym memberships, and which ones to avoid like your life depends on it :), sometimes it almost does.  Let me explain……

In 2005 I entered my professional career as a personal trainer at a big box gym here in New Jersey.  It didn’t take much to get hired, and I quickly fell in love with the fact that I was getting paid to tell people what to do.  To hang out with me would cost you between $60 and $80 per hour and I had to see you a minimum of 3 days a week.  You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realize that’s a lot of money and although the trainers only got paid 40-50% of that, our clients were putting out serious cash.  99.9% of our training in house, was sales and numbers based,  we became pretty bad A## sales ninja’s to say the least.  It also struck me, after a few years, that many members were being taken advantage of. This was due to the fact that most of the trainers were inexperienced and not worth $80 per hour.

Confidence is king and sales skills, coupled with a cute smile, and tight shirt, allowed the trainers to make a decent living. And at the same time, create a decent client base, made up of loyal, long term, fitness enthusiasts. 

Fast forward to 2011, I finally made the decision to leave the sales floor of the big box gym, preferring to focus on helping people change their lives at a reasonable price.

I can now look back and say that one to one training is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Mainly due to the huge increase of quality group training.

Let’s look at some current options…


What is the worst investment you can make when it comes to a gym membership?  With any investment one needs to know what we get in return for the money.  When you pay for a 90-minute massage you want a 90-minute massage by a competent therapist. One that has the knowledge and experience to provide the results you are looking for.  If you have been tempted by one to one training, it is important that you do a little research. Look for experience, certifications, testimonials and proven results. Although one to one coaching is almost extinct, the best coaches still charge premium rates.  If you do find a great coach that meets your needs, understand that his or her time will be expensive.

The ugliest gym membership you can buy, is one to one coaching, with an inexperienced, and under educated coach. (This was me 12 years ago,)


There are a lot of poor options out there. Here are my top 5 red flags, things to avoid when looking at a gym membership

  1. INEXPERIENCE – Every trainer started somewhere, but it is a bad idea, to put yourself in the hands of an inexperienced coach. You should not be the Beta test for a recent grad. This increases risk of injury, and ultimately not seeing the results you want.

    Research the facility and the staff, and never be afraid to interview any potential new coach.

  1. NO PASSION – It is critical that the person you are trusting with your well-being, is passionate about health and fitness. And he/she wants to see you succeed just as much, if not more, than you do.

    If your coach lacks enthusiasm and passion, then credentials and experience, matter little, look elsewhere.  A coach with little or no passion and drive, is either only in it for the money, and or, sick and tired of coaching. That is someone you need to be working with.

  1. OUT OF SHAPE – This should be a red flag for everyone. You want a coach who is in good shape, they practice what they preach, and are committed to a healthy life style
  1. One more quick piece of advice would be to check out their SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. Make sure it’s someone you want to associate yourself with.

    Hire a coach that creates content specifically for your individual needs. One that makes time to help you overcome obstacles, break through plateaus, and keeps you focused on the agreed goals.

  1. If you sign up for a 30-day trial, or even a 6 / 12-week transformation, ensure that all the things that got you to raise your hand and invest, are delivered. Otherwise you just hired someone that is good at marketing, but may leave a lot to be desired when it comes to delivering results
  1. ATMOSPHERE – Without a positive environment, positive things are less likely to happen. After a couple of weeks, you should be able to decide if your new gym has an environment that’s comfortable for you. Surrounding yourself with people on a similar journey will not only make it a more enjoyable experience, but may also allow you to create motivating connections, with other members. If you do happen to find yourself in a negative or cliquey environment, then it will not be the best place for you to achieve life changing results.


Having made myriad mistakes, and experienced all sorts of fitness environments, am now happy to share the secrets of finding the right gym situation for others.

Recently, my Mother, bless her cotton socks, decided to look for a gym. She lives 3000 miles away in the UK Not that easy for me to go with her to check out every gym.  See below, for the email I sent to her.  It may help give you the tools you need to find the right gym

“Hey Mum, I’m so excited that you’re finally joining a gym and making yourself a priority in 2017.  I do need you to make sure you join the right gym, here’s what I need you to do.  

  1. Find a gym that’s convenient for you.   Don’t want you not going, because it becomes too far to travel.
  2. Is the web site attractive to you? Does it sound like they have programs designed for someone like you?
  3. Check out their Social media pages, make sure the pictures, videos and content all line up with who you are, and the goals you want to achieve.

If they’ve past all those tests, it’s time to set up an interview, and ask him/her some key questions. 


How long have you been a trainer?

Do you have any certifications?

Is this your full-time career?

Do you have testimonials, and or, before and after pictures of people like me, looking to lose weight, build lean muscle and feel great?

Is it possible to try out the gym before committing to a membership?

 No, is a red flag.  Tell them you don’t mind paying for two weeks, but if it’s not a perfect fit are you able to get a refund?

Is there 30-day trial?

Membership rates, and what’s included?

Look for unlimited access to all sessions, or at least a schedule that works for you.

Do they offer nutrition advice, monthly measurements, customized workouts, private Social Media support group?

All of these details are important and will help in getting you into a program geared for success.”

 I prepped my Mum, as I would anyone looking for the right fit. This structured approach, optimizes the likelihood of finding the optimal location and coach. One that will have a positive impact on your life.  Taking your health seriously is important, and it is equally important to avoid wasting money and time. 

Use as much of the information above as you can, and if there’s anything I can do to help, don’t hesitate to connect with me

Wishing you the healthiest 2017

Coach James