I was in New York this week and spent my time going to gyms and seeing how people who go to gyms work out. As you know, I spend most of my time either training my clients outside or training with other fitness nerds. My wife insisted that I go to the gym in her building and train her which opened my eyes to just how the other 97% lives. It was illuminating, and here are some takeaways that I guess I forgot most people don’t know.

  1. There’s no such thing as spot fat loss.

Crunches will do nothing for your beer belly. The adductor machine will do nothing for your flabby thighs. You’re just going to have to eat less and focus on get stronger. Fat comes off “last in; first out” and it happens the during the 163 hours a week you aren’t at the gym.

  1. There’s more to training than moving faster or moving more weight. There’s also moving better.

Move your joints through the whole range of motion. Trust me, as you get older you’re going to want every radian of range of motion that you can get. It doens’t matter if you have to use less weight; joint stability and mobility is related to being able to apply force through the whole movement pattern. Elegance is a worthy fitness goal.

  1. Running shoes are for running (and they aren’t great for that either).

I saw so many people compromised by their footwear. Super supportive, cushy shoes that were messing with people’s balance and ability to hold a position. Grab a pair of these or these. Or just take them off and train in your socks.

  1. Your body doesn’t stop at your hips.

I saw no one squatting. No one hinging. No deadlifts, no lunges, no split squats, no SLDLs, no RFESS. I saw two flat-assed girls who spent more time picking out gym outfits than they did holding weight do a few of what could only be described as “1/8 squats.” Their hips probably see more flexion on the toilet than in the gym.

  1. There’s no such thing as spot fat loss.

Just in case I stuttered.

6._ If your trainer has you sitting for more than 10% of your session, fire him or her immediately._

One of the more hearbreaking things I saw was an incredibly built female trainer who undoubtedly played a collision sport at a high level walk a not-even-remotely-old man from seated machine to seated machine and count reps. I was pressing kettlebells and I heard him look at me and ask her, “what’s that?!” I know I don’t have any context to the exercise selection that she had programmed for him, but Sweet Zombie Jesus woman, get that man on his feet!

  1. Have some damn fun!

You don’t have to hate working out for it to work. In fact, the more you like it the more you likely you’ll come back and do it again! When that guy looked at me pressing kettlebells and lit up, his trainer should have lit up, too. Nothing improves compliance like having fun. Stop treating training like work, and live a little. Throw a medicine ball really hard at the ground. Hit something! Pick up something heavier than you thought you could.

Oh, and P.S…

  1. There’s no such thing as spot fat loss.