How I got scammed by the fitness industry (Multiple times)
This is my story. It happened to me and many others. I live in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. I don't believe this will happen to everyone, but nevertheless it happened to me and my buddies from the gym.
So back in June 2022, I wanted to go to the gym, probably because my health was going downhill and wanted to make a change. As usual with my ADHD brain, I strive to be the best at what I do, no matter what. I don't understand why my brain works that way, but it does. That's why I fail so many times in my life.
At the end of May, I began walking one fine evening, searching for a gym near me. I looked around, and I found a gym. The receptionist/trainer (this person was my first trainer) was a nice-fit guy and said some nice things and convinced me to join. And so I did. On June 1st, I started going to the gym and my body was in so poor condition that I was not even able to brush my teeth a few days after I started lifting. I kept going regularly, and I started improving, and I decided to talk to him about improving my training. The trainer suggested that I take personal training, but did not know what to expect. My friend from college has a personal trainer and seems to like him a lot! He even recommended that I try it back in 2016, but I was uninterested at that time. So this time thought I will give it a shot. The price was too high, ₹15,000. I thought about it and decided to give it a try. The package was 15k for 20 classes. The first few classes were good, but after a few days he did not come to the gym and when I asked around, I found that he was fired for malpractice. He has transferred the gym membership and personal training fees from the gym members into his bank account instead of the gyms account, basically an off the book transaction. I called him immediately to ask for a refund, but told he will take online classes for me, but I was not convinced. A few days went by and spoke with other members of the gym and realized that he was doing this for many months and probably that month alone he stole about 1 lakh rupees. Not just him, there were about 3–4 trainers in the gym and all of them stole, so the manager fired them all. I asked the manager for a refund, but he transferred me to another new trainer in the gym. About 10–20 members lost their money, and he somehow convinced the remaining for online classes.
Later, I also found out that this happened because the gym manager asked him to do this off the book transaction for income tax evasion, but the trainer exploited this for his benefit. How tables have turned!
At this time, I was so angry and disappointed in myself. I should have been careful. I still continued to workout and got introduced to a kick boxing trainer. It was interesting, and I always loved martial arts, so I thought I will join that and see how it goes. I was surprised to find that the classes were excellent and that the coach had excellent knowledge of kick boxing. I continued training, it was hard as fuck. Not only that, but I learnt so much from those classes than I ever did in my life. I learnt how to throw a punch, kick, skipping and monkey flips, etc. Since the training was too hard, I changed my kick boxing training to 3 days a week and the remaining 3 days strength training in gym workout to keep my training balanced. I also opted for personal training again since I now know what to expect. My second personal trainer was good, but not up to my expectations. After my training package got over, I changed my trainer to a different person. Luckily, I found a perfect trainer/teacher, he is younger than me, and he is also a body builder and an athlete. My training with him is very different, and I gained strength fast. (I still I train with him currently.)
I took a break for 2–3 months since I had to move, and I got lazy. After 1 month, I joined a different gym close to me, and got a free personal training package for 3 days and opted for it. During 3 days, this trainer (my 4th) convinced me to take classes with him, and he seemed pretty knowledgeable, and I did not sense anything fishy with him. Guess what? I was wrong again. After a few days into my training, he started upselling me into buying expensive packages, like 3 months, 1 year, etc. Instead of training me and helping me improve, more than half the time he was irritating me by trying to sell me packages that I didn't want. More I ignored him, his tone changed and did not even speak to me or train we well. I was angry as fuck. I felt betrayed (again).
I still continued. There was another trainer I got introduced to after a while, and he seemed like a good guy. I paid him (off the books) some amount for training, but still, he was upselling me like before. Again disappointed.
At this point, you might ask, “why are you paying them off the books?” Because that how it is over here.
I decided to go back to my kick boxing training, since that suited me better, and found a nearby place where classes are conducted. Again, I was pleased with the coach and the training. The training was good, classes were excellent. I was overjoyed. But there was an insane amount of calorie burn with my training and I lost about 5kgs in a span of 1–2 months and dropped to ~70 kg. I met interesting people and discovered more about my body and fitness. I did things I never did before, like, climbing ropes, numerous monkey flips and running and skipping, and many more. The 180 split stretch is brutal. Unfortunately, I got very sick due to my allergies and was unable to continue for 1–2 months.
I tried working out at home after but missed the gym atmosphere and without equipment, the exercises were too easy. To my surprise, my 3rd trainer, the body building athlete guy, called me back and said he is opening a gym near my new place and I immediately said yes. I am going to his gym now. The training is good, I pay him for his training services. I am satisfied and happy now.
So, in summary, I got scammed 3 times in total, and I estimate that I lost about 30-35k rupees. I thought it was an isolated incident at first, but the more I spoke with other gym members throughout last year, I realise this is happening in most gyms in my city, in fact, all over India and the world* if I am guessing correctly. The thing with training is that, it is not easily quantifiable. How do you know if a trainer/coach is good? The certifications do not matter if he is mostly a seller. These sellers withhold information unless you pay more. It is just business. Unless we spend time with them, we won't know if they are good or not. So I feel that these things happened because they were supposed to happen. If you want to find a good teacher, you need to keep searching.
There is a quote that I like,
“When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready... The teacher will Disappear.” ― Tao Te Ching
This is what happened. I was getting ready, training myself little by little. Now I am happy with my daily training, my teacher is good. I hope you find a good teacher too.
(I am missing my kickboxing trainers too…)
You might also ask why not train yourself by seeing YouTube videos or reading books. I do that too. But there is much information and experiences that you cannot obtain from a book or in video format. Unless you train with others, it is difficult to spot mistakes. And I don't have any training buddies. If I had one, I might have not fallen into these scams.
But all is fine in the end.
And one more thing, I think that it's better not to join large gyms or corporate gyms. The smaller, the better. Smaller gyms are cheaper, and they have more heart and passion. I am training in a small gym now.
Good day to you.
Now go do 10 jumping jacks. Your ass needs some blood flow after reading this rant.