How do you get changed in the gym?
We could spend all day just hanging out in locker rooms, watching guys get their clothes off. There’s probably laws against such blatant voyeurism, but you can tell a lot about a guy by observing how he gets naked.
We like to think of it as putting our Gaydar to work – our intuitive ability to sense whether a guy is going to be up for a bit of guy-on-guy fun.
Some guys in the gym seem completely oblivious to nudity – either their own or that of those around them. Years of swim training at school or team sports can effectively desensitise you – you spend so much time showering with your team mates or seeing them naked that there’s no longer any shock-value or excitement.
Some guys seem to take a real pleasure in displaying their naked form in front of others. For many guys, there’s an undeniable exhibitionist thrill in public nudity.
Guys who take great effort to pull their underwear on underneath their towel clearly aren’t that keen to get their dick out in public – for whatever reason. It could be a cultural or religious inhibition, or it might simply be that some guys are afraid that people will laugh or make fun of them if it looks like they’re a bit on the small side.
At its most extreme, a fear of getting changed in public is known as dishabiliophobia. But it’s surprising how many people have some level of social anxiety in relation to getting changed or undressed in locker rooms.
A phobia or social anxiety is generally triggered by some sort of traumatic event – usually at a young age. For many queer guys, Phys Ed or Sports classes at school are the source of some of the unhappiest memories from childhood – with bullying, verbal abuse, and physical abuse common occurrences.
Young adolescents are particularly vulnerable. Everyone’s bodies are developing at different times and in different ways, and kids have almost an animalistic ability to identify and exploit points of weakness or difference in peers and competitors. But how do these childhood experiences translate into our adult lives?
According to life-coach Louise Gillespie-Smith, it’s natural to feel a bit of anxiety in the locker room.
“It’s a habit of all human beings to compare themselves with others. We’re all doing it, all the time…” explains Gillespie-Smith. “It doesn’t really matter what you look like, people will still compare themselves to you and the focus is on themselves and not you.”
If you’re lacking in self-confidence, then comparing yourself to others can add further fuel to any negative self-perceptions. Gillespie-Smith offers some advice to help manage locker room anxiety.
“Instead of comparing yourself to others and feeling inferior, when you look in the mirror each day focus on your best bits and how you can make the most of them…” suggests Gillespie-Smith. “Ask yourself – What do I like about myself today? This will create positive body image thoughts instead of focusing on what you don’t like and feeding your insecurities.”
Of course the way that we get changed in public may not necessarily be shaped by traumatic childhood events, but may be influenced by the way that we’ve been brought up by our families or our cultural traditions.
Physiotherapist Shih-Ming Yao is a confirmed towel-changer, but doesn’t see it as a big deal.
“I’m comfortable in my own skin…” confirms Yao. “Towel changing probably stems from mum and dad teaching me that’s how you change in public, and as I’ve gotten older I guess it’s stuck. For me, the key word is modesty. Why is it always the ones you don’t want to see naked that are more than happy letting it blow in the breeze?”
Thusitha from Sri Lanka also opts for a towel when changing.
“For me it’s a cultural thing rather than any religious requirement…” says Thusitha. “I may be wrong, but as far as I’m aware there isn’t anything in Buddhism saying you can’t get changed without covering yourself. When my parents took me to swimming lessons when I was a kid, they covered me in a towel when they changed me. Other parents did the same and we took it from there. We even have cubicles to get changed at the changing rooms in Sri Lanka. I find it uncomfortable being naked in front of people I don’t know. I don’t think that I’ll ever go to a nude beach. I’m really quite shy!”
British-born Rohin, who is Hindu, does feel a certain reserve in the changing room.
“Traditionally, Hindu men were very relaxed about being around other men with very few clothes on…” explains Rohin. “There are lots of religious ceremonies that involve bathing in public, and ancient forms of virtually naked yoga. However, being a modern British Hindu, I wouldn’t feel comfortable about completely whipping off all of my clothes – especially with the pressure of worrying about what’s correct, who’s thinking what, or does this reflect on my status. While I wouldn’t worry about losing the towel for a couple of seconds if need be, that’s completely different to some guys at the gym. There’s one guy who puts on his socks, shirt and tie all before putting his underwear on. To me, that seems a bit weird.”
For Hakim from Azerbaijan, it’s all about respect.
“It’s a form of etiquette…” explains Hakim. “We can all show off our bits to each other, but concealing myself while getting changed is a sign of respect that I show to others. It’s nothing to do with me being Muslim, and I’m not shy about being naked in front of close friends, but I would feel disrespectful about being naked in front of people I don’t really know.”
Ultimately, getting changed before and after exercise or sport is just part of the deal.
“There’s no wrong or right way to behave…” emphasises life-coach Gillespie-Smith. “It’s perfectly okay to get changed however you feel comfortable. Taking that pressure off yourself will help you to relax and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing or thinking.”
If you fancy a bit of erotic gay fiction about an encounter in a gym, check out this reading of The Soldier in the Sauna.
It’s a story about a personal trainer who hooks his best friend up with one of his clients.
How do you pick up a guy in the gym?
Are you just in the gym to work out, or are you open to other opportunities?
One of the good things about the gym – especially if you’re not a sporty person and just want to find motivation to work on your body – is that it’s full of handsome dudes that you would gladly take home. But how do you make the first move and get the attention of the guy that you’re eyeing off over the bench-press?
Here’s 10 simple steps you can try.
The first thing that you should do is complete your workout as usual. However, make sure to modify it a bit so that it’s a bit closer to what The Guy is doing.
Letting someone know that you’re interested is not possible without a bit of eye contact. Staring at him while he’s working out is probably a bit uncool, a bit of looking here and there will definitely make him realise you’re into him.
The outfit is the first thing people notice, and this is why you should put some thought into what you’re going to be wearing for your workout. Slutty shorts are a good choice. A jockstrap is worth thinking about. Or maybe you just want to freeball.
Try to find out more about him. Stalk him on socials. Follow his account. Like some of his posts. That way you’ll show him you’re interested, and if you get a follow back, you’ll be closer to your goal.
Now it’s time to make your move. The best way to do this is by asking him something related to a certain exercise.
Keep the connection going. Say hello next time you see him at the gym. Look for excuses to make small talk.
Try and expand the conversation beyond small talk. Find something that you’re both interested in. Remember what he told you last time and ask follow-up questions.
You don’t need to adjust your schedule completely, but it wouldn’t hurt to find out when he normally exercises and see if that fits your routine. Maybe make plans to workout together.
Be approachable. Be positive and optimistic. Look as if you’re open and friendly.
Be direct. Ask him out. What’s the worst that can happen?
Are you into a guy with sharply defined abs?
Are you into a guy with a rippling washboard of a stomach? Do you want abs that are so sharp and defined that they almost look like they might hurt someone?
How do fitness models get their abs in peak condition?
Here’s some tips that you might want to try and incorporate into your regime.
Start with your diet
If you’d like to see more definition in your abs, one of the key things to focus on is your diet.
Everyone has got a set of abdominal muscles, but you need to be fairly lean and strong in order to get the definition that you see on underwear models.
There’s no point doing a whole heap of sit-ups if you’re not going to embrace the kind of diet discipline that reveal your abs in all their glory.
Hit the intervals
Intense interval training is a great way to help you get lean and strong. Interval training comes in lots of different forms, so try a few different options and figure out what works best for you.
You need to be fairly structured and methodical in order to get the best out of interval training – you’re looking for short and intense bursts of exercise with controlled recovery periods to maximise the impact on your body. Sign-up with a personal trainer or join a CrossFit class so that you can put all of your focus on pounding out the exercises without having to keep an eye on the stopwatch.
Get serious about squats
It probably feels a bit counter-intuitive, but if you’re wondering about which exercises you should be concentrating on if you want to enhance your abs, you’ll get better results from squats than you will from ab-crunches.
Squats are a great functional exercise, really engaging your abs as you lift the weight and push through the upwards motion.
If you want great abs then the squat rack is going to be your new best friend.
Making the most of your time in the gym
In a busy world time is precious — however long you manage to live for, your days are finite so you need to make each day and each minute count, and that’s particularly true of the time that you spend in the gym.
You only have a certain number of work-outs in your life, so you’ve got to get the absolute most out of each one — there’s no point wandering around the gym, checking yourself in the mirror, chatting a bit, resting on the equipment and then chatting some more — you’re there to work and you’re there to work hard.
Most of the battle is simply turning up and really being present in the gym, focused and motivated for your work-out, but if you’re really wanting to push yourself then there’s a couple of natural stimulants that can be helpful to get the blood pumping and drive you to push yourself as hard as possible.
L.Arginine — this is an amino acid that when taken 15–30 minutes before your work-out has shown some real benefits increasing performance;
Super Green Tea Diet — this is a bit of wonder-drug from Holland & Barrett, ostensibly designed to help with weight loss, it’s got a potent mix of caffeine and chromium which serves as an excellent pre-gym stimulant (take 15–30 mins prior to workout);
XcelR8 — this is produced by Smart-Tec and it’s probably the most effective pre-workout stimulant that I’ve ever tried. You drink it about 30 minutes before your workout and you feel a noticeable buzz. No idea what’s in it and I’ve got a feeling that it’s now been withdrawn from sale in the UK, so it’s probably not that good for you — amazing results though.
Coffee — caffeine is a tried and trusted stimulant, so whack down a double espresso before hitting the gym and you’ll be switched on and ready to pump some iron.
Do you need a personal trainer?
If you’ve ever had a personal trainer to help your gym routine, you’ll appreciate that a good personal trainer can really take your fitness and your outlook to a whole new level.
Your relationship with your personal trainer becomes stronger the more that you work together and the more you connect with each other.
If you’ve never had a personal trainer, then it’s difficult to understand the deep bond and dependency that quickly forms. Sure you could be doing all of these exercises by yourself or with one of your friends, but a personal trainer also provides that motivation, the discipline, the structure and the guilt required to make sure you get the best results from your workout.
Kayden Stephenson, an academic from Massachusetts in the US, explains why he first signed up with a personal trainer:‘To motivate me to get in shape. I’m pretty lazy so having someone to push me and yell at me to work is valuable. Plus it serves as a commitment device — if I don’t show up I lose a lot of money!’
For John Sadler, an accountant from Perth in Australia, the motivation for signing up with a personal trainer was a milestone birthday:‘I was two months out from my 30th birthday and wanted to look smashing! I’d been in and out of gyms for years but really didn’t feel I’d made much progress — often I’d get to the gym and not know what exercises to do. My personal trainer teaches me proper technique and ensures lots of variety.’
But a good personal trainer will be giving you much more than tips on how to lift weights — for example Sadler spends a lot of time with his trainer talking about diet:‘He’s always asking me how my diet is going…’ Sadler says. ‘…I know what I should and shouldn’t be eating of course, but to have my trainer asking about the diet every time I see him makes me stick to it more when I’m not at the gym, which is definitely a good thing!’
But how do you know which trainer is the right one for you? Remember, this is someone you are going to be spending a lot of time with each week — someone you’ll probably be seeing more than your friends or family, so it is a big decision.
Stephenson took a fairly simplistic approach:‘I hired the one with the biggest muscles.’
Whereas Sadler relied on his powers of observation:‘I’d been working out at his gym for about two years and I chose him because everyone who works with him seems to be knackered and sweating at the end of the session. He seemed to be really motivating his clients and now he’s totally doing that for me too. I initially started seeing him once a week but I’ve increased that to twice a week now as he is really getting results. A trainer also has to be quite physically fit themselves — good-looking always helps too!’
The need to get on with a client is also an important consideration for personal trainers. Michael Staddon, who runs his own personal training business, likes to be upfront with his clients:‘I always say when I see potential clients that I need to connect with them as much as they need to connect with me. If I don’t enjoy the time with my clients then they are not going to get the best out of the session, so if we’re not compatible I will try to find them a trainer who is more suited.’
Breaking up with a client though can be a difficult conversation, as Staddon explains:‘If it’s not working out for any reason it’s best to end it quickly. This is always tough though as it can easily be seen as quite a big personal rejection.’
Of course cost is generally a fairly key consideration. Most personal trainers will have an hourly rate (although the sessions will generally last for 30 minutes, 45 minutes or 60 minutes).
Rates will vary depending on location and the knowledge and experience of your trainer — to give you a rough ballpark of prices around the world, in the UK you will be looking at around GBP£75 per hour; in the US you will be looking at around USD$80 per hour; and in Australia it will be somewhere around AUD$100 per hour.
Once you calculate that you will be looking to train at least twice a week with your trainer, the costs quickly add up — plus they’ll also be badgering you to buy a range of supplements and protein shakes.
But is that a luxury? If you’re going to the gym, exercising correctly and thinking about your diet, then you’re less likely to become sick and require time off work.
In a recent study about absence from work, the Confederation of British Industry estimated that the annual cost of absence to the UK economy is GBP£17 billion, so it’s easy to see why companies will often support and encourage employees to follow a healthy lifestyle.
Health Insurance is also expensive — by investing in your fitness by going to the gym and training with a trainer, you may be able to reduce your health insurance costs to a more basic cover. Most health insurance providers will also offer incentives for you to follow a healthy lifestyle.
The more intangible benefit of maintaining your commitment to the gym and your trainer is the way that it makes you feel. Regardless of what’s going on at work, the wider economy, and the world around you, if you’re exercising regularly you will be in a much more positive state of mind.
Studies have shown that vigorous exercise can increase the body’s natural release of endorphins (a natural pain reliever and antidepressant) and enhance cognitive function.
Every personal trainer has their own style and areas of expertise, but why are some personal trainers more successful than others?
Even if you’re working side-by-side with other personal trainers in the same gym, why are some personal trainers attracting more clients, more profile, and more income?
From a client-perspective, it seems to be that a lot of it has to do with confidence.
Being a personal trainer requires a lot of confidence — you are putting yourself out there every day, with every client. If someone doesn’t return your call, or a client decides not to continue with you, it’s hard not to take this personally. The problem is that this type of insecurity can almost become self-fulfilling — if you’re worried about calling someone, how they will respond, what would be best to say, then you’ll sound nervous and hesitant, you’ll be less likely to make a positive impression. If you’re worried about retaining an existing client, then this anxiety will translate into the way that you interact with that person — they’ll sense your fear and you’ll appear desperate and unsure, making it even more likely that they won’t come back to you.
This is one of the biggest challenges for all personal trainers looking to build their careers, looking to build their personal training businesses.
Here’s three simple steps to help give you the confidence that you need to win new clients, build loyalty with existing clients, and build your brand.
Be clear about what you stand for
Why is it important to stand for something? You need to be proud of what you do .
Imagine that you’re at a party and someone says: “Personal trainers are a bit of a luxury aren’t they?” or “Personal training isn’t much of a career is it?” You need to be able to articulate why personal training is important, how it can help people, and the difference that you can make to people’s lives.
It might be a simple statement such as “I believe that diet and exercise are the key to health, fitness, and body transformation.” Or you might be a bit more technical and talk about the power of a tailored resistance training program, or how people can actually damage their body by doing the wrong things in the gym. Find the words that accurately describe why you believe that having a personal trainer is important. Think of it as your elevator pitch, a simple but compelling statement that convinces people that you know what you’re talking about.
Articulate what makes you different from other personal trainers
It’s relatively straightforward to get a basic personal training qualification, and there’s a lot of personal trainers out there — what makes you special? Why would a client choose you?
If you’re just starting to build your personal training business then it might be something more personal to you like: “Always punctual, always focused.” Or you might make it more marketing focused such as “Bringing you the latest celebrity workouts!” Or you might specialise in a specific type of diet and exercise regime. Find something.
What’s crucial at this point is to be authentic — there’s no point just quoting the latest fads about how to get a six-pack within ten days, you need to be able to deliver on the promise that you’re holding out to potential clients. Being able to articulate what makes you special helps to give you the confidence to talk positively to potential clients about the experience that you can offer them, the knowledge and expertise that you bring to the relationship, and the results that you can help them achieve.
A basic marketing plan will not only help with recruitment and retention of clients, but it will also make you feel good about yourself and the skills and experience that you have.
Ensure you have a website in place. Look for opportunities to be quoted in the media as a fitness professional. Ask your friends and clients for endorsements and testimonials.
Choosing to be a personal trainer is choosing to be part of a tough and competitive industry. Don’t let a lack of confidence limit your success.
Marketing your personal training business
As a personal trainer, one of the most important things you need to do (especially when you’re starting out) is to market your business.
You need to build your brand and your profile to make it easier for potential clients to find you and choose to train with you.
One of the reasons that many personal trainers find marketing their business a bit of a challenge is that it’s quite a personal thing — what you’re marketing is you: Your skills; your experience; your knowledge; and your ability to deliver results. You’ve got to confident in your own abilities and you’ve got to be able to clearly articulate to potential clients as to why they should choose you over the many other personal trainers also pitching for their business.
Here’s a couple of simple steps to help you get a head start:
Understand your strengths. Pretend that you’re explaining to someone (who doesn’t know you) what makes you a good personal trainer. Do you have any special qualifications? Do you have any specific areas of expertise? Have you had any additional experiences that sets you apart? Write these strengths down and use them consistently in your communications.
Look the part. This isn’t so much as wearing a t-shirt with your logo (if you’re working in a gym they’ll most likely require you to wear their uniform anyway), this is more about looking like a professional and credible business. Ensure you have a website that is up-to-date — it doesn’t need to be very elaborate, just something that effectively represents who you are, what you do, and enables people to contact you. Establish a social media presence for your business. Google search yourself — what comes up? Does it convey the impression that will attract new clients.
Ask for referrals. The most effective and low-cost way for you to attract new clients is to have them referred to you by your existing clients. Don’t be shy about asking your clients to suggest your services to their friends and colleagues. Offer an introductory package. Ask your existing clients to provide testimonials that you can use on your website.
Focus on retention. Recruiting new clients is hard work and can be expensive. Ensure that you put maximum amount of effort into retaining your existing clients.
Do you have a fitness marketing hook?
When you’re just starting out in your personal trainer career, building your business, and looking to grow your salary, it’s important to think about the most effective way to recruit new fitness clients.
There is a lot of competition out there, so you need a way to appeal to potential clients — something that is going to help you stand out and grab their attention.
This is where a fitness marketing hook comes in.
A fitness marketing hook is something that draws people in — gets them to call you, to email you, to respond to your advertisement — and then creates the opportunity for you to impress them with what you have to offer and sign them up.
Marketing your personal training business can be quite complex, and there’s not going to be a ‘silver bullet’ solution that will suddenly win you all the clients you need — people respond to different things so it’s important to trial and test a number of different approaches to see which ones work best for you.
Some obvious examples are:“Free consultation and trial session!”“Pay for four sessions — get one free!”
You may want to try tailoring your marketing hook to the type of client that you’re wanting to specialise in: “Short of time? Try our express work-out!”“Women love our Tone & Tighten work-out, click here to find out why!”
Or you could try something more event driven or seasonal: “Get ready for skiing — our specialist workout will have you ready for the slopes!” “Preparing for your big day? You need our pre-wedding workout!” “Booked your summer holiday? Sign-up for our Beach Body Bikini Blast!”
Getting your marketing right will increase your client base, sell more sessions, increase your salary, and increase the profile of your personal training business.
As a fitness professional you can’t afford not to focus on your marketing.