How much is that kettlebell in the window?

Recently, I’ve taken to the internetz to research new trainers and fitness options.

Not that I’m against my current set-up, because I’m not. It’s served me well during my time there, but I want to see what’s out there and make an informed decision about achieving the goals that I’ve set out for myself.

That’s uber important to me.

I live in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s on the far east of Canada. In fact I’m just a few kilometres away from the most easterly point on the continent. This province has been dubbed “the fattest province in the country” by statisticians — we have an obesity rate of over 71%.


And I’m right down the pipeline of that stat. I know it. I still am. And will be for a little while.

All that being said, you can imagine my surprise when I started researching gyms, fitness programs, and trainers and discovered dozens and dozens of alternatives. There were so many, I lost track of them. My head was on a swivel trying to keep up with them.

It seems there’s a personal trainer, crossfit centre, yoga studio, pilates outfit, boot camp, and “sexy for santa” shop ever five feet around here.

I mean, you can’t throw a kettlebell without hitting one.

Once I started venturing deeper into the maelstrom of options, I began to notice a disturbing trend.

Many of these places refuse to list pricing on their websites.

And, I’m gonna say it, that’s some bullshit right there.

If I require almost any service known to mankind, I can pretty easily find out how much it costs. Haircut, therapy, massage — you name it, there’s a cost to those things, and that cost is readily available for the customer.

But for many of these fitness places the cost is hidden. Tucked behind a shroud of jargon and not-so-clever marketing tactics.

And when you write to some of these places and ask about pricing — often times you’ll get quoted back an enormous number, but right below that gargantuan number you’ll often get this wonderful line:

“You can’t put a price on your health.”

Oh no?

Fucking watch me.

You can’t put a price on your health? Why not? You certainly have.

Health expands beyond the realm of physical activity. You need to be able to pay your bills, your mortgage, buy healthy foods — you need to live your fucking life.

It’s no good to go out and pay an extravagant amount of money to an individual or gym if at the end of the day you can’t keep your lights on.

And there are a lot of people out there who can’t come close to affording any of this stuff. What about them?

In the back of my mind as I was researching options, all I could think about were individuals on low or fixed incomes who want to make a difference in their lives, but have absolutely no way of getting that help. Because, financially, it would be impossible.

You can’t put a price on your health?

Shame on you.

Using poorly thought out, guilt-ridden marketing bibble-babble on a culture of people who — for the most part — feel tremendous guilt about needing to avail of a trainer in the first place is just flat-out greasy.

It just is.

My advice: search hard. Options are out there. There are trainers who care about you and their business equally.

The last place I was at was inside a university. And the personal training there was 30 dollars a session. Which I used either once a week, or once every two weeks depending on where I was in the routines.

That’s the most affordable place I know of.

During my research I discovered places that charge upwards of a thousand dollars a month for training. And while, I’m sure that those trainers would have yielded excellent results — I have to keep my lights on.

When this province began to see prosperity, people would say — “with oil money comes crime”.

But now that this province has been recognized as having the highest obesity rate in the country, we’re seeing something else — fitness gurus.

Not all of them as altruistic as they seem.

This is not meant to discourage anyone searching for help. Nor is it to condemn places for trying to make a difference in the lives of people who both need it (and can afford it).

And for those gyms, trainers, studios, warehouses out there who may or may not be reading this: obese people understand guilt. They don’t need to be reminded like some toddler who has dipped his hand in the cookie jar.

We’re fat. Not five.

Health IS terribly important.

But so is honesty, integrity, and care.

Three things that truly are, in every sense of the word, invaluable.

20 thoughts on “How much is that kettlebell in the window?

  1. Isn’t this the truth? I remember researching even just a basic gym membership and couldn’t find any info on rates for a lot of them. Even when I called them directly, they gave me a total runaround, trying to get me physically in their door so they could hook me into services I didn’t want or need. Needless to say, I didn’t go anywhere near those facilities. I don’t need to deal with companies that won’t be up front with their (potential) customers.

  2. FINALLY! Someone else who gets it. I’ve been trying to find something affordable and coming up hitting my head against a wall. I’m just glad the weather is finally turning nice so I can get outside more.

  3. You nailed it, Dave. My husband is a trainer, and he’s very discouraged by the state of the industry. He went back to school and got a Master’s in Health & Human Performance. Many trainers have nowhere near the qualifications they should have to be in that business. St. John’s isn’t unique in having a gym on practically every corner. It’s like that just about everywhere, and it’s what’s keeping my husband from starting his own place (well, that and a couple hundred grand). I would encourage people to be mindful of the sales pitches, and read, read, READ the small print. If a trainer isn’t focused on you and what you need, walk away.

  4. You nailed it, Dave. My husband is a trainer, and he’s very discouraged by the state of the industry. He went back to school and got a Master’s in Health and Human Performance, which makes him far more qualified than a lot of people in the business. St. John’s isn’t unique with a new gym on almost every corner. That and the lack of a couple hundred grand are keeping my husband from opening his own business. I would encourage people to do their research: don’t sign up with the first place you walk into, and read, read, READ the small print. If a trainer isn’t focused on you and what you really need to be successful, walk away.

  5. You absolutely speak the truth! I had the pleasure of going to one such Bootcamp set up by a personal trainer who charged per class which is fine but proceeded to spend the class counting how many push-ups he could do while some of his clients struggled to use proper form. I ended up instructing and trying to help them out so they wouldn’t hurt themselves. Sadly he did not modify his classes for those starting out and there was one poor lady who was not young and had quite a bit of extra weight and she was so discouraged and in pain much of the time. That “trainer” had no business instructing others. So buyer beware as well. Cause there is nothing more motivating than getting gouged and screwed over at the same time!

  6. I feel less frustrated over the same thing after reading that, thank you Dave. I’ve been trying my best to find ways to get fit in my basement in an attempt to avoid all the high pressure sales.

  7. David, I agree with what you are saying the cost can stress you out enough that the exercise wouldn’t help anyway. Walking is good and is free (I know you do a lot of that), and swimming is suppose to be the “safest” (Less weight baring stress on the body). I don’t know how much a years membership would be at the Mews for example probably much less than a years membership at a gym?

    I decided I was going to lose weight and what I did was call on different friends to go walking. That way we caught up on each others activities, and we all began to feel much healthier. I hated walking alone but sometimes I did go ahead because I was committed to the weight loss. At those times I put my headphones on and would walk to the beat of the music.

    There are money saving ways to lose weight putting it out there is an excellent idea, because for sure you’ll get some suggestions back. Questioning spending an outrageous amount of money is a smart thing to do. You want to exercise your body, but it is good to exercise your mind too as you are doing. Your right David, sometimes the Emperor has no clothes.


  8. You’re so right about the whole “putting a price on your health” thing. If I’m working a close-to-minimum wage job, I can’t afford to put the majority of my paycheck towards someone beating me out once a week.

    I just joined the aquarena fitness center because they have monthly passes instead of complicated, near impossible to break, forever contracts. I’m also considering a session or two with their personal training, because their prices are actually on the website.

    Good luck with finding something!

  9. My favourite option is courses offered through the local community centres. I’m not a gym person, but I have found excellent swim programs and dance classes that I enjoy for a very reasonable price. Pre-paying for a fixed amount is a huge incentive to get me out too (as much as I love to swim, I rarely go to lane swims). I love how you continue to explore different aspects of your fitness work, and share your perspectives!

  10. Dave, this has long been one of my pet peeves about fitness facilities, gyms, trainers, whatever. Keep up your great work.

  11. Just wanted to let you know that if you are in a low income bracket, the YMCA will give cheaper memberships depending on income. I don’t think it’s the same for trainers but at least people have the option of at least going to a gym.

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