No Rhyme or Reason

Today it seems that anyone can open up a gym without any experience, degree, or knowledge of how the systems of the body work. The gym setting and programs have changed over the years. When I started training in 1983 the gyms were filled with bodybuilders who looked different than the common folks. Many of these guys had incredible symmetry and eye popping physiques that were all built by isolated weight training exercises. There was a purpose and an objective to the training back then. I adopted this style of training and have been living it ever since. But unfortunately guys and gals today just don’t want to look muscular or defined with good symmetry. Now there is no rhyme or reason to exercise.  

If I knew that all I had to do was to rent a big open space and throw in a circuit of power lifting stations, a couple rowers, battle ropes, a couple TRX bands, a few kettle bells, dumbbells, pull up bars, and charge people per month to have them try and beat a certain time was all I needed to do then what was the purpose of going to college and graduate school?

It seems that anyone can open up a gym. Massage therapists, graphic artists, mega rich business folks, attractive fit individuals who’s claim to fame is that they exercise everyday or have done a marathon, or anyone who spends a couple hundred bucks to take an exam so that they can say they are “certified” can open up a gym. If someone would have told me twenty years ago when I was in the throws of kinesiology and neural physiology classes that the future of fitness was just circuit training and bootcamp classes, I would have said that their neurons weren’t fully connecting. 

My perception of owning a gym was based on my knowledge. I always believed in knowledge is power and that to own a successful gym you have to have a strong knowledge base in all aspects of human anatomy and physiology. Prior to opening my gym I spent years learning and gaining experience. I worked in the clinical field to gain as much knowledge of injuries and rehabilitation, while at the same time worked in various fitness centers to learn exercise prescription for various populations. College and graduate school taught me a great deal about the body. I had the privilage to train under Vince Gironda, one of the best minds in building muscle and physique competition in the history of fitness. I spent years gathering my knowledge base before even thinking about starting up my own business. Little did I know that today you can make thousands of dollars a month without having to go to college or have any knowledge whatsoever about how the body works. You just have to have the money for start up, look attractive, be polite and sell circuit training programs to the masses. 

Who cares if the protocols don’t fit everyone’s body, or that power lifting exercises if done for the wrong reasons will promote fat gain and big butts, distended stomachs, and a thick looking appearance? Who cares if people are having shoulder impingement issues or knee and back pain, just as long as they beat their own personal time and are lifting more weight each week? Who cares about cortisol production and overtonis? Who cares about the neurophysiological pathways of hormone production and the effectiveness of isolated exercises for building muscle? Who cares about symmetry, or looking good, just as long as you can perform as many exercises that are not designed to promote a great looking physique? Who cares if they still look fat after doing circuit training, high intense style training for months on end? Who cares about nutrition and knowing how to eat to make the greatest difference in your health and appearance? Who cares about having a plan that actually works for the individual, just as long as everyone is working out together and having fun? Who cares if the program works for the person next to me but doesn’t work for me, just as long as we are motivating each other and going for coffee after class? Who cares if there are actual physiological tests and procedures that can help improve body composition and help gain control of the fat spiral? Who cares if a person knows a great amount of information about the body and could save a person years of wasted time training with programs that aren’t right for them?

I could have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of time with getting educated in this field, knowing that all I had to do was sell circuit training programs. Just set up a series of stations and then press “change stations” on the tape player and walk away. I could have done this all this time? Just think of all the golf I could have played and the time I could have spent with my family, just hit the “change station” button the people unconsciously go from station to station and I could leave without anyone ever knowing and head to the beach or golf course.

People will spend a trainer thousands of dollars not realizing that the trainer only has a degree in english. But the client doesn’t care because they are being trained by a person who is attractive and they want to look like them. I remember going to California and visiting the gyms in L.A.. I saw many celebrities with their own personal trainers. When I asked about the experience of the trainer the answer I got 4 out of 5 times was, “they don’t have degrees or are certified, they are skinny and beautiful and the celebrities like that. They just need someone to give them attention.”  I suppose this is the prerequisite of training nowadays, make people feel special and like they belong to something and it doesn’t matter what your educational background is, just as long as you make them feel good. I wish I knew this all those years of having to pay back thousands of dollars in student loans. 

I am often asked “what ever happened to Vince Gironda.” Vince went out of style. Vince was a realistic, honest, trainer who trained people through honest weight training techniques. For the majority of society Vince’s programs and methodology was too advanced to grasp. The programs were too difficult for most people to handle. Vince always taught me to be “conscious” when I exercise. Only a small amount of Vince’s students understood what Vince meant, I was one of those that knew. Isolated exercise was not a big seller in gyms because most people found it to be boring or painful. In order to satisfy the needs of the populace, unlikely folks who never had the ability to build a great looking physique and couldn’t understand true natural bodybuilding because they were just not patient enough or had poor genetics came up with a new of training that would ignite the spark of enthusiasm of the people– boot camps, and circuit training. Throw in the terms, multi-plane, multi-joint, and functional training and now you will attract the masses. Now everyone can partake of this group motivational style class without having to ever train alone again.

Vince’s gym was packed every day with men and women who weight trained. Most everyone trained individually with the exception of encouragment of friends for spots or being personal trained by Vince. But everyone had their own set of goals and personal desires for how they wanted their muscles to look. But as the years passed and the “new” style of training came around the idea of lifting alone performing isolated exercises had died. Vince wasn’t able to sustain a profitable business anymore and decided to let it go. Today, Vince would have never been what he was because of the philosophies of today. I know this because I had to change my own philosophies and methods to accomodate for the masses. No matter if the program doesn’t work people want it, so I have to offer it. I only share the methods I have used for my entire career for those that really want the knowledge and can appreciate this style of training. I wouldn’t survive financially selling bodybuilding programs in this day and age, because it is such a specialized population that are interested in that type of training. 

Vince’s Gym was the Mecca for developing physiques. People came all over the world to train with the great Vince Gironda. 

Today’s Gym is more generic and can be operated by anyone who has enough money to buy the equipment. 
And the focus is more on group comradrie than individual perservance. The programs are challenges that have no direct link to the symmetry of the body. It’s the same program design for everyone regardless of age, ability, muscle distribution, hormone production, neural output, cellular efficiency. 
Daryl Conant, M.Ed