30 Days Changed my Perception of What a Gym Can Be

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 A Lifetime of Letdowns Lead Janakee To Us

Years ago, after realizing that I was not disciplined enough to work out on my own, I wanted motivation and accountability. My needs lined up perfectly with hiring a personal trainer, so I sought one out at the big box gym I was going to at the time. Signing up for a personal trainer was easy, but keeping one ended up being the hard part…A combination of personnel changes, schedule constraints, and unprofessional behavior lead to a very frustrating first experience for me. More than anything, I came away from that experience feeling like my needs weren’t prioritized. Due to that experience, I swore off big box gyms right then and there. I then decided to join a small, privately owned personal training studio. I thought the smaller studio might provide me a more personalized approach. Sadly, I was wrong. It turned out to be the same “product” I bought before in a slightly smaller box.  After visiting/trying out several other gyms and receiving plenty of sales pitches, I gave up on the hunt for the “perfect gym.” I concluded that the fitness industry was all about sales and facades and not really about people. That was my stance for years. I still signed up for a gym, but I was a transient client. I would do my routine cardio for years.

The Leap of Faith

First, I have to say that even though my blog is focused on Applied Fitness Solutions, I am sure there are more gyms out there with similar mindset. I just have not found one.
I first heard about AFS driving by, as I used to work out in the same building under a different ownership (Bally’s and LA Fitness). I really never connected the dots although I drove by frequently. I was unsure what Applied Fitness Solutions was… Gym? Exercise equipment? Physical therapy? Then I met longtime AFS client Alex Evans through a mutual friend who spoke highly of her experience. Alex was the driver who motivated me to immediately set an appointment to visit. I always hold a client’s opinion over advertising or promotional info.

The First Impression

After coordinating with Alex, I had an appointment with Nate Langley one afternoon after work. I was impressed immediately at how nice (and clean!) the facility was. I met with Nate as he explained the entire concept of AFS. The biggest takeaways from that visit were: 1) Sales Pitches: very little to none. 2) First gym where the management never bad mouthed a competitor, even though I gave him the opportunity to do so. 3) Transparency. To me, that speaks to a high degree of professionalism. 4) Care. Nate did more listening than he did talking, I was immediately sold. The question now was, could my actual experience once I got started live up to my first impression? Before I left our meeting Nate told me AFS would deliver MORE than he promised. I was excited to find out if that was true.

My New Home

I met my practitioner, Kate Shafer who spent a significant amount of time taking measurements and getting to know me. She introduced me to the AFS client messaging portal and continues to check in with me. She is always available around the clock even if I am having a stressful day and just need support and words of encouragement. Kate will write up a workout if I am traveling. In fact, there was a workout she had written me for the trip waiting for me in my inbox. One thing I just learned, if you have ailments, injuries, or other goals, the practitioners can prepare a customized written workout plan for every class. This is a unique benefit that you do not initially realize that AFS offers. Even if one injures an ankle, client can still come to a class without fear of making it worse. All in all, Kate has been everything I wanted in a personal trainer/practitioner: supportive, encouraging, can challenge me as she understands my full capabilities in a tactful and professional manner.
AFS has a very flexible schedule where clients can drop in. As a result, I have had the opportunity to meet many of the other trainers. My first few classes were with Brooke. She has a very vibrant and warm personality. She high-fived me and encouraged me like I have never experienced before. I was “wowed” in my first class. My next instructor was Devin. As an owner, he is quite humble and so down to earth that one would not believe he is the owner unless told or had they glanced at the AFS website. It is nice to witness an owner who is as level headed as his staff. I have had a few other instructors who are as phenomenal as the first two. They’re all so helpful with form, understand my fitness level, and their willingness to help. It has helped to change my mindset from “Oh I can never do push-ups” to “I will try because they will help!”

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My Advice

I feel that the success or failure of any organization depends upon the leadership skills possessed by management. Unlike most gyms that I have experienced, AFS does not thrive on sales pitches, they truly seem to thrive on authenticity. They’re the first gym that has that welcoming feel I was looking for when I started this quest. It’s a business model I would like to see more of in the fitness industry.

That said, Do your homework!! Understand what you want: big gym, small gym, individualized attention or independent working out. Then map out feasible gym locations where you will actually show dedication. Then read the reviews and talk amongst your social and professional networks to see where they work out and get their opinion. Had I taken my own advice instead of trusting Alex, I would have found that AFS was reviewed very highly across several sites-I looked after I started 😉
Finally, actually GO VISIT your prospective gyms prior to making a decision. Your fitness goals are very personal and should be treated as such. Find the environment you can thrive in, even if it means you have to pay a little more each month (within reason). The return on investment will be well worth it!

Thank you for reading,

Janakee S.

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