The One Thing That Annoys Me Most About the Fitness Industry

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I consider myself a fairly even keeled guy.

I try not to sweat the details nor to come across as someone who complains or argues about trivial things such as traffic, the weather, low bar vs. high bar back squats, LCHF diets vs. any other diet equated for protein and total calories, or which is the best Harry Potter book.1

Then again I am human and sometimes my capacity to suppress my annoyance hits a crescendo, and I’m left with no other alternative than to write about it, like every other a-hole in the world with an opinion and access to a laptop.

Brb…I need to go throw my face into a brick wall.

Incessant Entitlement

I can’t tell you how many emails or messages I receive from new(ish) trainers on a routine basis bemoaning the fact they work in, GASP, a commercial gym.

They usually invade my inbox in several iterations, but this is the most common:

“Tony, this sucks. I don’t know what to do. I want to train professional athletes. I didn’t go to school to work with house wives or Jack from accounting. My life is over.

How do I get to where you’re at in your career?”

I don’t know what people expect from me.

I’m not their boss. There really isn’t much I can do, even with a high speed internet connection.

The meanie-head in me wants to say something like:

“I’m all for having goals, but LeBron doesn’t want to train with you.”

However, I’m not a meanie-head and what I usually end up saying is something to the effect of:

“Not to blow up your spot, but I didn’t train my first athlete until year five of my career. His name was Tim, a sophomore in high-school. He played basketball. 

I didn’t train my first professional athlete until year seven.

Also, what’s wrong with training house wives? I love house wives. And Jacks from Accounting. Hate to break it to you, but those lowly house wives (and accountants) you’re too cool for outnumber professional athletes by a ratio of a kajillion-billion to one and are going to be the ones  paying your bills and helping to pay off those student loans of yours.

I also hate to break it to you, but working with athletes isn’t as lucrative as Instagram makes it seem. 

What’s more, and this may come across as blasphemous, I prefer training general pop clients.


Pretty much every “successful” or well known coach today, every…single…one, from Mike Boyle to Eric Cressey to Mike Robertson to Nia Shanks, at some point or another, worked in a commercial gym.

What’s more, there are an infinite number of fitness professionals out there right now who thrive in commercial gyms and end up building very successful brands (and careers).

This may be an unpopular viewpoint and not what you want to hear, but I’d make the argument working in a commercial gym for 2-5 years is often what’s necessary (if not mandatory) to be successful in this industry.

Well, that and a decent bicep peak…;o)

In the end, you get out of it what you put in.

You can either bitch and whine about your situation like every other entitled asshat, or go out of your way to use this time to gain experience, hone your craft, take pride in having an insatiable desire to learn and get better and to make yourself more indispensable (FYI: this should never really stop), get up early, work late, work on holidays, and weekends, fail, fail again, fail some more, and then, at some point, inevitably, reach the same conclusion as many before you.

That who you work with has far less of an impact on your success in this industry and is as insignificant of a thing to concern yourself with as say, what Meghan Markle had for breakfast this morning, or, I don’t know, Tom Selleck having too sexy of a mustache.

None of it matters.”

Okay, that still had a bit of a meanie-head vibe to it.

But it had to be said.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. Anyone who feels it’s not Prisoner of Azkaban can go jump into a live volcano.

Comments for This Entry

  • Carin

    Uggg, I’ve always suspected this attitude lurks underneath the trainers at my (commercial) gym. I’m just a regular person, not a famous athlete. And I am reluctant to work with a trainer because deep down i know they are bored with my silly goals and progress. So what, I still find inspiration elsewhere, like from you Tony, and cobble it together myself. Trainers with a poor attitude towards the masses are missing out on my $$.

    May 23, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Reply to this comment

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    May 24, 2018 at 7:03 am | Reply to this comment

  • Scott

    I definitely agree with your article. For one, most job listings (at least the ones I've seen the past few years) require a range of 1-3 years of training experience. I myself am a certified personal trainer with a B.S. in Exercise Science and currently working on my Yoga Instructor Certification and my M.S. in Exercise and Sport Physiology (as well as paying off hefty student loans). I have a little over a year of experience working with youth athletes (thanks to an internship) as well as the general population. I've found that working in a commercial gym has helped me to become better as a trainer/coach, so, at least with my experience, I don't understand why these individuals are complaining. Yeah, commercial gyms are not always the perfect occupation as a trainer/coach. Sometimes the clientele is lacking. Sometimes the pay is poor (you either get an hourly wage or commission, if your lucky, you find one willing to give both). Sometimes, you're clients will be unmotivated, hard to work with or decide to not train with you at all from the initial consultation to some point during their training. Through the John's and Jane's that walk into the commercial gym I part-time in, I've learned that my craft was missing A LOT in terms of cueing, proper assessments and programming. Yes, a commercial gym has it's faults relative to a "perfect" training/coaching job, but we all have to start somewhere. So again, I agree. Instead of bitching and moaning about your situation, make the most of it. If your dream job isn't in a commercial gym, then I would say to hone your craft so other employers WANT you. Aside from that descriptive "I agree" comment, I would say that along with 2-5 years of experience training clients are internships. Interning with a combination of trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, physical therapists, athletic trainers, exercise physiologists and even researchers (if you're interested in the research side of exercise science) are beneficial in numerous ways from improving your craft to networking. I spent about 2 months interning with physical therapists and athletic trainers. My philosophy and viewpoint on exercise, fitness and well-being changed greatly. For one, I have a greater appreciation for PT's and AT's and I actively seek communication with post-PT clients. PT and S&C have numerous similarities and both can benefit from the other with PT should include some aspects of S&C and vice versa. The things I learned (from a PT who used to be a trainer herself for years and decided her work would be best fit in a physical therapy clinic) has not only added "tools to my toolbox", but has made me a better trainer. We're not going to be handed a "perfect" occupation position as a trainer/coach just because we spent 4-6 years putting ourselves in debt for a cool looking degree to hang on the wall by our desks. We have to work for it, further our knowledge through continued education (like following Tony Gentilcore on Twitter) and hone ourselves as trainers/coaches.

    May 24, 2018 at 8:16 am | Reply to this comment

  • Derek Arsenault

    Well said, Tony. I spent 11-years working with athletes from amateur to pro levels. But my passion now lies with the general clientele. Those with 8-10hr work days, bills to pay, mouths to feed and everyday life stresses. It takes a certain kind of person to work with athletes their entire career, and I don't regret a minute of it, but it also takes a certain kind of person to make a career in helping others (regardless of their profession). Well written post!

    May 24, 2018 at 10:58 am | Reply to this comment

  • Weekend Sendoff: May 25th, 2018~

    […] One Thing That Annoys Me About the Fitness Industry. Tony Gentilcore goes on a nice rant. I really do enjoy the content he releases. He’s a great follow on Twitter and Instagram too. […]

    May 25, 2018 at 6:23 am | Reply to this comment

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  • Tim D

    Hey Tony, Cracking article as ever, I'd say that your point shouldn't just be true for the fitness industry but for any industry...

    May 25, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Karenk

    I loved that you said housewives are great! First of all the general population people are the ones you can make the most progress with. In and of itself that is gratifying. Aren't we in this to help people? Secondly there are so many bad trainers out there it's so easy to shine in a commercial gym and set yourself apart. Athletes shmathletes. People are people. At the end of the day you are helping people reach their goals. As usual I love the article Tony!

    May 27, 2018 at 6:51 am | Reply to this comment

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