It’s not that personal training is never the correct solution. If you have very specific needs - you’ve had a car accident and severely broken your leg or you are on the cusp of making an Olympic team or earning a collegiate scholarship - then a personalized program led by a true expert who knows how to execute that program in order to get the exact results you need can be a game changer.
The problem is that this represents such a small part of the training population and those experts are really few and far between.
On the flip side, the majority of people hit the gym to look better, feel better, get stronger and become healthier.
And given the cost, scheduling, programming and enthusiasm barriers, personal training is just not the best way to accomplish those goals.
I know this sounds harsh. I know if you are a one-on-one personal trainer you don’t want to hear it. But it doesn’t make it any less true.
Over the past seven plus years we’ve set out to prove that training in small groups with an expertly designed program that addresses strength, work capacity, movement and aesthetics led by a group of training experts removes a lot of those barriers.
The cost is a fraction. The schedule can be more generous and copious (remember, an individual trainer only has so many hours they can work in a day). The program can be really well vetted and tested. And the excitement and focus of being in a community of like-minded people all training together simply leads to a better training effect than filling the awkward silences between sets with your personal trainer discussing their love life or obsession with anime.
Training in small groups is more affordable and more exciting. And both of those lead to more consistency. And even your most hardcore trainer won’t argue against consistency.
I know this might come across as confirmation bias and as an ad for my gym. But, more directly, it’s just revealing the outcome of nearly a decade of personal research.
Know who else suffers from personal training? Personal trainers.
The hours are brutal with most having to work both early mornings and late nights when clients are available to train.
This leads to a lack of sleep, a lack of preparation (I can’t count the number of PTs who I’ve seen putting that day’s client workouts together on the subway) and, quite quickly, a lack of enthusiasm and burn out.
It’s hard to be working 15 hours per day and only get paid for 6 of them as you race around from building and gym to gym as is customary in NYC.
Inevitably this is why so many personal trainers quit or move or go virtual. It’s also why you don’t see too many 60 year old PTs.
I fully understand that someone challenging the validity of your profession is tough at best and anger inducing at worst.
But ask yourself this, if personal training was really viable and valuable, why don’t all personal trainers have personal trainers? I mean, these men and women have a lot on the line when it comes to their physical looks and capabilities. Surely if this was the best way to derive the desired outcome they would invest in it.
Instead, most do what Kyle and I did. Get together with a few buddies, write a great program and get after it together. Those lunchtime sessions we did with our colleagues were actually the very initial germ of the idea for The Fort. After having so much conviction and success with this method, it just didn’t feel great to train people in a way that we didn’t train ourselves.
Once upon a time, in New York CIty, there used to be a group of men called “ the knocker-up”.
They carried around long sticks with knobs on the end of them and every morning would walk around their neighborhood and rap on people’s windows in order to wake them up.
It’s a fun and charming piece of NYC history and I am sure that when the alarm clock was invented, commercialized and became more affordable those people were pissed and, ultimately, made obsolete.
That doesn’t mean the knocker-up were bad people. It just means the alarm clock is the better solution.
You don’t have to hate the player to hate the game.