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The Rise of the Fitness Cult

Snob Alert

Fitness SnobThey may not say these exact words, but some people’s actions say….

I’m better than you.
My training is harder than yours.
My gym is cooler than yours.
I have more trophies than you.
I run faster than you.
My class is the more popular than yours.
I’m stronger, faster, better…

hans & franzI’m seeing a nasty trend in the fitness industry. It’s this new elitist mentality. I know professional athletes that are more humble than some of these people. Their puffed up heads (and bodies) make them a very easy target for office jokes. While we can all laugh at Hanz & Franz, this growing issue is no laughing matter at all. It’s serious business that deserves a serious warning.

While I might not be able to help the people who have joined whatever fitness cult they are a member of, and are in so deep they don’t even realize it, I sure as heck can help prevent new potential cult followers by warning you to not fall in this yucky trap.

Welcome! (or Not)

fitness cultWhen it comes to fitness, most of you know I often compare gyms to churches. There is a really good reason for that. Church and gym members have a very similar characteristics. Both are there to help people. Each one provides education, support, guidance and an opportunity to socialize with likeminded people. Because of this, you see a lot of changed lives, which is very powerful.

However, since both churches and gyms are made up of a bunch of humans – none of them are going to be perfect, and people will make mistakes. All it takes is a few bad apples to ruin the happy pie. These people can either INFECT the entire group (and the entire group can take on those bad traits or beliefs), or the group can AFFECT them (in a positive way) and they can remain solid and grounded.

I’s all about how the people interact with each other. Are they welcoming, do they make you feel comfortable? Do they act better than “non-members”? Do they make you want to come back? Since both churches and gyms can be very intimidating places for a newbie, it’s super important to be aware of how we may come across to the “unbeliever”.


fitness intimidationUnfortunately, many people are under the impression they are super friendly, welcoming and comfortable to be around, but that’s because they are too comfortable in their own environment to notice how anyone is feeling or acting. My Great Dane was the same way. He had no idea how big he was so, when he wanted to visit our neighbor’s chiwawa, Nikki, he had no idea why she would freak out at the site of him. He just wanted to play, but she was scared to death of him.

With my personality, I am constantly looking at how people react after they walk in the gym. I watch how they look at our staff, at the equipment, at our trainers and even our members.  Do they look scared? Are they overweight? Do they appear uncomfortable? Is there anyone in the gym that might scare them like my Dane scared Nikki? How can I set them at ease and let them know we won’t bite?

It doesn’t matter how great your workouts are if you if you can’t make people feel comfortable. People HAVE to feel comfortable, confident, proud and successful (no matter how big or small the success) or they will never come back.

Why Can’t We All Get Along?

fitness variety

Think of various types of fitness activity as different denominations. You have powerlifting, bodybuilding, figure & physique competition training, boot camp, CrossFit, spinning, yoga, Zumba, pilates, step class, running, circuit training, TRX training, Bodylastics band training, kettlebell training, triathlon training…the list goes on and on. For some reason, people will find something they love SO much, they treat everybody else like total morons if they aren’t doing what they are doing. I guess it’s their way of trying to convince them to join their groupies, by bashing everyone else so they eventually will try it “their way”. This is where the snob-like mentality comes in. In the church, we’d say someone was acting “Holier than though” – and I’m seeing this in the fitness industry way too much.

one size fits allIf your foundational beliefs (like being active and living healthy) are the same, you are all the same team. Realize, there has to be different strokes for different folks. We are all very different, our needs are different, we are motivated by different things, we have different strengths and we need different workouts to fit our different personalities and goals.That’s why there is a church on every corner, and that’s why there are ton of gyms. Fitness is not one-size fits all.

We’re All Winners

Motivation: I am a winnerShouldn’t we be excited someone just works out? Shouldn’t we be happy that someone found something they like? The answer is YES! And the honest truth is, people should never be so narrow-minded. Thinking “your way” is the only way is legalism – and we need to break free from that. Fitness is supposed to be a healthy lifestyle – not prison. Gyms are not a country clubs for the rich, strong, fast and best. They are a place for people to make improvements and get positive support and reinforcement, not judgement.

I honestly believe this type of mentallity happens accidentally. When something changes someone’s life, they want EVERYONE to try it. Like a born-again Christian can go overboard and come across judgmental or pushy, so can a new fitness fanatic. Their heart might be in the right place, but they totally lose sight of life outside of their little world. They come across judgmental, preachy and obsessed. Then it gives the whole group, or brand they are promoting, a bad name.

Are You A Turn-Off or Turn-On?

Fitness-FreakWe need to be careful how we live fitness in our life. We may be the only fitness representative of our gym, or workout program, someone sees. It’s best to lead by example rather than with our mouth. If we live it right, people will be dying to try what we’re doing – but if we don’t, we might be a complete turn off, and people will never want to step foot near our gym.

There are SO many great fitness facilities and programs out there. Although I may personally like some more others,that doesn’t mean any of them are better – they are just different. Remember, they have one awesome thing in common; they are ALL getting people healthy and making a difference.

Quick Test:

If you are curious how you, your trainer or your gym is doing, don’t ask the members or staff – ask an outsider. If you get a lot of guests, but they don’t return – there is something wrong. OR, if members don’t bring guests, there is something wrong. It could be they know their guest won’t be comfortable. If you can make guests happy, you can make everyone happy – and really make a positive impact on your community!

Check Yourself?

Is your training a turn off or turn on?
Are your peers attracting people to fitness, or steering people away?
Do you speak a different language? Using words only “your peeps” understand?
Do wear different clothing to fit your “fitness lifestyle”, as if you live in a different country?
Do you like to show off your strength/size/flexibility/abilities, etc? If so, how do you think others respond?
Is your gym welcoming? Are your friends encouraging to newbies?
Can you remember what it was like the first day you walked in your first gym, or class?

These are just a few questions that I encourage you to ask yourself. The world of fitness is already intimidating enough, so let’s work hard to make fitness as warm and friendly as possible so we can keep making a difference!

What’s Keeping You From the Gym? 5 Things that Could Be Holding You Back

If SO many people want to get fit, why aren’t they all members of a gym? I believe there are 5 main things keeping people from the gym. Since some of these reasons could be a sensitive topic for some of you, I decided to mix in some fun cartoons to lift your spirits and help make receiving these tips a little more fun – because, in reality, we can ALL relate to at least one of these issues.

1. PRIDE: “I’m out of shape and embarrassed.”

Fat & EmbarrassedIf I had a quarter for everyone who has said “I just want to lose 10lbs before I join a gym”, I’d be RICH! I am not sure why people feel they need to get in shape BEFORE they join a gym, but that is such backward thinking. That’s like saying I’m going to try to get smart before I enroll in school. Really?

My grandmother once said, “a church is a school for sinners, not a place for saints”, and that concept also applies to the gym. The gym is not a place for the fit, it’s a place to GET fit – and STAY FIT. It’s the place you go to get fixed. Unfortunately, people’s perception of the gym is that it’s a place for bodybuilders and fit people. Do you think they were BORN fit? Of course not. They once started out just like you. If you think you are “too fat” to be seen in the gym, or too out of shape to take a class, that is EXACTLY where you need to be – and I promise you, they will welcome you with open arms!

2. LACK OF KNOWLEDGE: “I don’t know what to do.”

Go to a professionalOf course you don’t know what to do. Did you get a personal training certification? Did you study exercise science? I bet you have a different expertise – we all do. I tell you what, if you are in the auto repair business, I promise to come to you to get my car fixed, if you promise to come to me (or a fitness professional) to get your body fixed. Honestly, if you knew what to do in every specialty, you wouldn’t need your mechanic, accountant, doctor, lawyer, teacher, preacher, tailor, realtor, banker, builder, repair man…

The point is, it’s totally understandable that you may not know exactly what to do. That is what fitness professionals are for. The awesome part is, you won’t need them forever. A good trainer is like a good teacher – they’ll teach you everything you need to know to eventually “graduate”.

3. MONEY: “I can’t afford it.”


We all fuss when we have to spend money to have something fixed. Whether our body breaks down, or our car does, it’s no fun to spend money on maintenance. We sure like buying new things, but we hate fixing old stuff – including our old out of shape bodies. However, as valuable as your car is, don’t you think you are that much more valuable? Besides, leaving your body broken will actually cost more in the long run. The same way ignoring a simple issue, like a tire that’s out of balance, can cause a lot of big ticket damage (like uneven wear on your tires and damage to your suspension), ignoring your body now can cause a lot more damage down the road. If you really want to save money, you can’t afford NOT to invest in your body.

4. TIME: “I don’t have time to go to a gym.”

fitness cartoonThis is one of my favorite Randy Glasbergen cartoons of all time. We act like we actually have options when it comes to getting fit, but do we really? What are the alternatives? Poor health, feeling bad, muscle deterioration, weight gain, health issues, low energy, loss in strength and stamina, depression, and even death.

You will succeed when you esteem your body as high as your most prized posession. You make time to work so you can get paid. You make time for TV, or other simple pleasure, so you can relax. You make time to eat because you don’t like being hungry. So, you need to make time for fitness if you don’t like feeling unhealthy. It’s not about if you HAVE time, it’s about whether you decide to MAKE time. Your health should be a priority – because, without it you have nothing.

5. AVOIDANCE: “I prefer working out at home alone.”

funny treadmill cartoonFirst, I must say, there are some people who do very well working out alone. However, in my experience, most people do not. Even if someone genuinely prefers to workout alone, they may not be successful at doing so.

The real question is, why do you prefer working out alone? Many times it’s the result of one of the above excuses I’ve already addressed. Some people just like running, or an outdoor activity. Sometimes it’s purely out of convenience. Your fitness success isn’t just about you doing what you prefer, or what’s convenient, it’s about what you need to get results you want. This means what you WANT and what you NEED may be 2 different things. I like to lift weights, but my body needs cardio and stretching. If I only did what I wanted, I’d be fatter, bulkier, have poor stamina and have very tight muscles. Ha! 🙂

In addition, most people do better with a support system. Whether that support system is a gym, a workout buddy, a running group or a weight loss support group, most people need a certain level of accountability. If you are working out in private, there is a chance you are doing so because it’s a little easier to fail in private.

If you really want to get to the heart of this question, you have to honestly ask yourself more questions like, “Do I like working out alone because it’s less intimidating?” “Do I like working out at home because it’s more affordable?” “Do I prefer working out alone because no one will notice how out of shape I am?” “Am I avoiding the gym because I had a bad experience before?” The list of possible reasons is endless.

While having a home gym is great, and it can work for some people, there is a reason a gym setting is valuable. More equipment, more personal attention, more guidance, more options, more people to see you (for accountability), more support, more motivation, and fewer distractions (like the phone ringing, dryer going off, baby crying, etc). Again, this doesn’t mean working out at home alone is a bad thing, but it may not be right for you. To find out if it’s what you need, you have to be completely honest with yourself. Do you really think you’ll reach your goal at home alone? If you aren’t 100% sure, then you may need to get out of your comfort zone and do what you need to do to reach your goals this year.


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