- Jul 15, 2006
Last time, I gave a brief description of the personal trainers at my gym. If you missed it, go read it now. I’ll wait.
All caught up? Great. Here’s a little story…
So one day, I was on the seated barbell press (military press), which of course is a shoulder exercise. But, that’s not really important right now. What is important however is the piece of equipment located directly next to this. It’s a machine by a company called Hammer Strength. Their stuff is fairly common in most gyms.
Anyway, this was the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine. Judging by its name, you know that it too is a shoulder exercise. Here’s what it looks like:
It’s very simple. You sit in it with your back against the pad and press those two black bars straight over head. It’s really just like any other shoulder exercise and machine. So far, so good, right?
So there I am barbell pressing about 5 feet to the left of the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine when all of a sudden I spot an overweight man and a red-shirted woman. I mention the red shirt because that is the official color the personal trainers in my gym wear. The shirts even say “Personal Trainer” right on them. I’ve never looked closely enough, but there may even be a name tag of some sort on the front as well.
And, as we all know, nothing says “I’m a certified professional” quite like a name tag.
It quickly became obvious to me that this was not an actual training session. This was a tour. They do this all the time. Someone joins (or is thinking of joining) and a personal trainer escorts them through the gym pointing stuff out and explaining things to them.
They seemed to be going from machine to machine while I’m assuming the trainer told the overweight man what muscle the machine worked, and how to properly use it. I’m not exactly sure what was said then, because I was too far away to hear/didn’t care.
That was until they stopped by the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine.
It was then that I was close enough to hear the fantastic advice this poor overweight man was receiving from one of my gym’s genius personal trainers. And boy was it fantastic!
The first thing I heard was the trainer describe the machine as “another great weight loss exercise.” That made me laugh. The guy must have mentioned that his goal was weight loss. Because of that, the personal trainer must just be adding the term “weight loss” to the beginning of every single exercise.
The overweight man, I guess being so intrigued by the machine’s supposed weight loss capabilities, proceeded to ask “What muscle is this one for?” I expected to hear an answer to that question within a second. I expected to hear “It’s a shoulder exercise.” The thing is, I never heard that.
Instead this personal trainer walked halfway around the machine trying to discern what in the hell it does. She was pushing things, and moving things, and sitting on things, and lifting things… all for the purpose of trying to figure out that the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine is a shoulder exercise.
After about 1 full minute of research, she finally had her answer…
“It’s a bicep machine.”
This is not a lie. This is not a joke. This is not an exaggeration. This is truth.
“This is a great bicep exercise. You stand like this and lift these.”
When she gave the above description, she was literally standing behind the machine. She had her chest leaning up against the back side of the back pad, and she was very awkwardly curling those 2 black bars that you’re supposed to be pressing over head. It was easily the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.
But wait, it gets better. Seriously.
After she was finished explaining to this poor overweight man how the Hammer Strength Shoulder Press machine has magically transformed into the Extremely Awkward Hammer Strength Bicep machine, they went on their way to the other side of the gym to I’m sure show off some other great weight loss exercises.
It was then that I remembered something. Hmmmm. Could it be? Is it still there? I know it used to be there, but… it can’t still be there. No… it can’t be. Hmmmm. I took a 5 foot stroll over to the machine in question and walked around to the right side of it. I looked up slightly and there is was… just as I remembered it.
It was an 8 inch wide, 12 inch long, laminated sign. On the top of it, in huge bold letters, it said:
HAMMER STRENGTH SHOULDER PRESS
And right under that was a complete description of the proper way to perform this exercise along with a list of which muscle group(s) the exercise targets. It must have said “shoulder” on it about 15 times.
So, there you have it. Before you go out and hire a personal trainer, bare in mind that the personal trainers at my gym (which is one of the biggest fitness chains in the world, by the way) are apparently skilled enough to A) not know a shoulder exercise from a bicep exercise and B) not be able to read a giant sign that says “shoulder exercise.”
Stay tuned next time for more wonderful tales of my gym’s clueless personal trainers.