Open Letter from Bill Gibson


An Open Letter to Those NOT Considering Personal Training:

(Download printable .pdf version here.)

While the jury is still out on dogs, I’m happy to report that an old fitness enthusiast can indeed learn new tricks, and very useful ones at that. I owe it all to the current batch of nicely schooled trainers here at Gibson’s Fitness. I speak from experience. After fifty-nine years pursuing fitness, and thirty of those years working in the business, I can spot a good trainer from across a crowded room, as the song goes, and a bad one too. If there ever have been any in that second category at Gibson’s (I’m not suggesting there have been), they have long since been weeded out. Now, degrees in related fields and the certifications actually worth having are the orders of the day for trainers here.

Let me briefly reflect on the history of trainers and personal training at the Gibson’s. In 1977, when we opened, there weren’t any per se, but rather I or one of my very bright but very limited staff—in terms of the number of them— would show a routine to the uninitiated and those needing an update, try to review it with them several times over the next few workouts, and then pretty much hope for the best. Like the hair transplants of the era, sometimes it took, and sometimes it didn’t. As a side note, the majority of clients in the 70s were hard –bitten (and often hardheaded) bodybuilders, power lifters, weightlifters, athletes, and men, and why would anyone in any of these categories deign to ask a training related question?

As the 80s were ushered in, so was an unexpected gym- changing phenomena: women started to come through the doors, often two by two, occasionally even joining. We started hiring aerobics instructors and holding classes, and hiring a woman or two familiar enough with exercise to help set up programs. But we were still very limited in anything that resembled personal training as we know it today. Regarding workout advice, one of my more amusing memories of that era was that of my daughter Liz, ten or so at the time, sitting on the floor alongside a NordicTrack cross country ski machine, popular then, helping guide some of our new-found female members’ feet to and fro with her hands.

Not that the gym wasn’t a great place to work out through these years. The equipment was always top notch and plentiful, and for the most part, the clientele was colorful and/or friendly. Sometimes the place bordered on fantasy. I recall a midsummer’s night (apologies to W. Shakespeare) in one of those years, the atmosphere supercharged with energy, as it often was, and just as hot and steamy inside as out, since it was the days here before air conditioning. The gym was packed with all sorts of fitness enthusiasts, uniquely among them, no less than 5 sets of twins! I also recall that during many of these years, it was almost impossible not to be working out near either a lawyer, or a pizza guy. For some inexplicable reason, these two diverse careers encouraged their practitioners to hit the gym in droves, far in excess of any other profession.

By the 90s, gym membership had increased significantly, with the ratio of men/women approaching half of each. Meanwhile, another powerful theme unfolding was the continually increasing number of folks of both sexes who had little or no fitness experience joining and needing meaningful fitness regimens. What to do? Fortunately, as the new Millennium turned the corner, enter grown-up Liz, and the soon– to- be, and current owner Kevin Hopkins. Rather quickly, with their input, a cadre of trainers came—and went—through the doors, a “Many are called, few are chosen,” sort of thing. Trying to find that just- right personality and the appropriate body of knowledge in the same presentable person not being the simplest process, there would be some coming and going. To be sure, changes in personnel will continue into the future, but regarding the current stalwart crop, only because they have decided to move to the next step in their careers. So, with protocols for zeroing in on top-notch trainers in place, and trainers now at the gym being part of that elite group, gym members can be assured of safe, result producing, and( if not exactly enjoyable to most of our sensibilities), very rewarding training experiences.

A few paragraphs back, I mentioned my personal eureka moment regarding personal training. For some time now, I’ve been watching our trainers work with clients using a technique known as “Functional Movement Systems,” or FMS. While I have passed on Zumba, spin classes, Tai Chi, and other certainly valid and productive modalities for their participants, FMS struck me as a really worthwhile component to add to my personal fitness arsenal. One of the driving motives for my fitness these days is retarding aging. FMS seeks out: 1. Loss of full-range movement, 2.Incapacity to recruit appropriate muscles, 3. Imbalances in strength capacity, 4. A bunch of other qualities we’re supposed to have but lose. Striving to recover these attributes is a worthy endeavor, since they seem to fade as we age. It’s a good time to ask; is there anyone reading this that’s not aging? So, I hired a trainer, actually two, and I’m slowly but surely addressing some of my time-earned “infirmities.”

My message is, seek out the trainers at Gibson’s Fitness. They can simultaneously save you countless minutes of wasted time, and put you on—and keep you there—the path to fitness, regardless how modest or lofty your goals. Tell them about those goals and try their advice. There are numerous options for working with a trainer, from one session to forever. You’re here for results. They can help make it happen. I used to think—and say—that the process of acquiring fitness was simple, but not easy. I still believe it’s not easy, but I’ve come to think it’s not simple either. With the steady proliferation of equipment, methodologies, and facilities themselves, more than ever, John and Johnnetta Q. Public need a guide to steer them toward the Promised Land, and not toward harm’s way. How many of us would go to court without an attorney, or a hospital bed without a doctor? It may seem presumptuous to lump providers of fitness with these esteemed professions. Perhaps. I would suggest though, that while working with a personal trainer to help you forge a fitness program might not keep you from the clutches of an attorney, there’s a good chance it will help keep out of that hospital bed.

- Bill Gibson

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