For me, the first thing I always mention is the vibe and people. You’ve got to like what you’re doing and where you’re going otherwise you won’t stick with it. For most people, this is huge.
At Quantum we are so lucky to have an amazing group of members and fellow coaches. We train hard, laugh, have fun, learn and progress together. That makes the gym a pretty special place in my opinion.
The second thing that separates gyms is technical. Do they have the things in place to help you achieve your goals - the coaching, the training system, and general competency.
This is a HUGE differentiator between awesome gyms that provide what we think of as “real training” vs a lot of popular exercise routines.
In our opinion, all training programs need to have these 3 things in place. Unfortunately, most group programs, be it bodypump/P90x/aerobics/bootcamp classes, and many CrossFit programs too, don’t pass the grade on all of these things.
1. PROPER ASSESSMENT OF ALL NEW TRAINEES They have no assessment procedures to match individual trainees with the right kind of program relative to their goals and starting point. They simply throw people into their system without any assessment or preparation. This is when injuries occur, when progress stagnates after the first 2-6 months, and when burnout happens.
You can’t tell me that out of 30 new people coming into a program, that all of them need the exact same training to move to the next level. I need a different training plan than my mom (no offence mom) to get better.
Some people are going to need more work on the very fundamentals while other people are ready to advance to intermediate or advanced training techniques. Some people have previous injuries or imbalances to resolve and others come in with a fairly clean slate.
Without watching them move and understanding their exercise history, it’s impossible to recommend the best way for them to get started.
2. GOOD MOVEMENT Most group programs don’t spend enough (or any) time teaching good movement and technique.
We’ve all seen people in running groups who run with their feet turned out and/or knees caved in. I’ve seen people who’ve done squats in aerobics classes for years with very significant and obvious movement errors. And the same thing sometimes happens within the world of CrossFit too.
We need to invest the time at the start to teach people the right way. Everyone should learn how to properly jump, squat, lunge, push-up, pull-up, deadlift, step-up, shoulder press etc. These are universal human movements that unlock our physical potential.
Lot’s of great gyms and coaches do these things. Unfortunately, many don’t. When this happens the trainee loses out.
3. LONG-TERM PROGRESSION Most of these programs have no concept of long-term progression. If you go from sitting at a desk to suddenly doing P90x, of course you’re going to get fitter - but only for a while.
At a certain point that program will no longer be very challenging to you. When that happens you can do P90x every day but you will no longer get better.
Anything will work for a sedentary person initially - as long as they don’t get seriously injured - but it takes a competent, experienced coach to develop a program that actually gets people measurably fitter beyond about the first 3-6 months of training.
Long-term progression is a big challenge within a group program vs. an individualized program, but there are better ways to build a program than others. By cycling different aspects of training throughout the year it is possible to build more long-term progress.
At Quantum we’re passionate at this stuff and take these responsibilities very seriously. We try to be more than a gym. We strive to be a fitness school that takes a long-term view of peoples’ health and fitness.
If you have friends or family who keep getting caught up in training programs that fail to meet these conditions, maybe it’s time that they gave us a try. Invite them out for a free class or to our open house/bring a friend workout on Sat Jan 4th @ 11am.