The TRUTH about “Fitness Assessments” aka Sales Pitch in Disguise…


This write-up prepares you to obtain your fitness assessment data and avoid the high-pressure sales tactics and costly add-on services found at many for-profit gyms.

Save $1,000’s by knowing WHAT REALLY HAPPENS before you join a gym and have a personal trainer tell you what to buy…

Fitness assessments are a great way to learn more about your body; your strong and weak points. As a personal trainer of 16+ years, I am embarrassed to tell you many for-profit gyms take this opportunity to shove high-priced services down your throat. The assessment is nothing more than time for a trainer to sell you his/her 100% commission products. Read more to see how to prepare to avoid this pressure trap!

I wrote the story below based upon my direct experience speaking with hundreds of potential clients and witnessing other trainers pushing the sale. Learn the tricks and be all the wiser… 


There are 2 people in this story and a 3rd “honest voice of reason“:

  1. Jane” – Description: Jane is an adult confused about the exercise process. She is not content with her current physical fitness level or cosmetic appearance (weight, stomach, lack of toned muscles). She has fitness goals and is unsure of where to start or how to begin a workout program. Jane needs guidance.
  2. Personal Trainer – Description: Corporate Personal Trainer (PT). This person works under a company name and must obey by the rules in order to get paid. This individual has a vested interest to sell more personal training sessions and services to the confused client to maximize his/her own paycheck. (This is not a fault of the trainer, this is a fault of the corporate for-profit gym system that most trainers must operate in)
  3. Fitness Patterns (The TRUTH) – Description: Truthful logic applied to any situation in debate. Designed to educate and inform consumers using “honest doubt” and personal on-the-job experience.

The Fitness Assessment


Jane walks into Never Fitness on New Years Day. Jane was prompted to join this gym with a promising  advertisement offering 2 free training sessions and $300 of gym coupons/credits. Jane has never been in a gym in their life. Jane is amazed by the massive size of the elegant gym. She is excited to have her fitness assessment and get her workout program to get started!


The dialogue

Personal Trainer: Welcome to our fully-equipped workout facility!

Jane: Thank you! So what is this workout program I was told about? Also, when I joined I was told I get 2 free training sessions and $300 of gym coupons/credits. Can you tell me about this stuff? I am so confused!

Personal Trainer: Yes! You get 2 free sessions with a trainer and $300 of gym coupons. However, you only get $150 worth of gym coupons today and the other $150 after 6 months. Your 2 free training sessions can be added to your workout program which I will explain.

Jane: (confused) Oh? They told me I get $300 of coupons when I join.

FitnessPatterns: The advertisement might have mentioned $300 of coupons but what does the fine print say? Many times marketers use small print and disclaimers to confuse consumers. It appears to have worked because this client already joined the gym and fell for the bait.

Personal Trainer: Yea they confuse people all the time. But let’s not worry about your coupons right now because I am excited to show you your workout program!

Jane: Oh… ok I guess? Yea I am in the gym to get in shape so lets talk about my fitness!

FitnessPatterns: This is a misdirection technique. The PT ignored Jane’s objection about the coupons and moved to another subject. The goal of the PT is to control the conversation to push their sales agenda which you will see below.

Personal Trainer: Now let’s discuss your workout program! So you mentioned your fitness goals are; 1. lose 20 pounds, 2. better overall fitness, and 3. fit in size 6 jeans… a few sizes smaller than your current size. Is this correct?

Jane: (very emotional) Yes! I am so excited about this gym and getting in shape! So what is my program? How can you help me?

Personal Trainer: Your workout program consists of personal training sessions, cardio testing for your weekly cardio, and nutrition consultations with our staff dietician.

FitnessPatterns: Do you think these programs are the same for everybody? Most people walking through the doors will encounter the exact same cookie-cutter sales jargon. Again, read more to see how it plays out.

Jane: This sounds great! So what do I do? I have never worked out before and need to know where to start!

Personal Trainer: Well, we need to set up your schedule. How many days a week can you exercise? How many days a week can you dedicate to your fitness goals?

Jane: Um…. I think I can get in here 3 days a week. Maybe Monday, Wendesday, and Friday? Are you going to tell me what to do or something? Oh yea, what about my 2 free training sessions? Can we do those this week to get started?

FitnessPatterns: The PT uses commitment (a common sales technique) by having the potential client openly state her availability.

Personal Trainer: Perfect! 3 days a week is exactly what you need for your program. When you work with a personal trainer here we show you exactly what to do when you come in Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! Well we do not want to use your 2 free training sessions until we establish your FULL workout program. A 3 month plan!

FitnessPatterns: The PT is very good at ignoring Jane’s questions and wants. The PT rephrases Jane’s questions to fit their pre-set sales pitch. This same generic sales pitch is used on 95% of the members. A majority of new gym members are not morbidly obese or superstar athletes; they are every day people just like yourself. Most gym members are looking for common fitness advice or general workout guidance; a program. (Many, not all) Personal trainers turn this “search for information” into the sales pitch you will see below.


Personal Trainer: THE SALES PITCH: Your workout program consists of 3 months of strength training and 3 months of cardio with a modification to your diet/nutrition too. (PT takes out a piece of paper and starts writing the schedule and price of sessions) You see your program will consist of 3 strength training sessions a week for 12 weeks. This ends being a total of 36 total sessions. Your need a cardio test to figure out your optimal heart training zones. After your cardio test we will give you a cardio plan to perform on your own time after your training sessions. You should purchase 3 sessions with our dietician to adjust your eating habits to help you reach your weight loss goals.

FitnessPatterns: How is 36 generic sessions a customized workout program? Can’t the trainer write down a basic starter workout program? What is the trainer’s reason for selling 36 sessions and added services? Why not offer 4 starter sessions or 8 starter sessions? Keep reading; the truth is near…

Jane: Oh, I didn’t realize a workout program last 3 months. Can you just write down what I should do on paper or let me use my 2 free sessions to show me which workout machines are best for my goals in this gym?

Personal Trainer: Well, we cannot just write down what you need to do because liability. I am sure you understand if I tell you what to do and you get hurt the gym could be sued. We need to see where your balance is and understand what weights you should start with and identify your best maximum heart rate for fat burning.

Jane: I guess that liability thing makes sense. So how much does all of this stuff cost?

Personal Trainer: Well the personal trainer costs $70 per session. The cardio testing costs $150. The dietician meeting costs $75 per hour.

Jane: (shocked) WHAT!? So, how much is all of this total?

Personal Trainer: (calm) Well hold on a minute, we can discount your workout program with your $150 of coupons. Also, you get 2 free training sessions remember?

FitnessPatterns: What happened to free? Should you ever have to buy ANYTHING to receive your free sessions? At this time, it would be good for Jane to know that the trainer MUST sell personal training sessions to make their paycheck. Unbeknownst to Jane, this gym pays their staff on 100% commission meaning the PT must sell products and services to get paid.

Personal Trainer: (still writing on paper) So, you “only” need to buy 34 sessions because you get 2 free. $70 x 34 sessions equals $2,380. Your cardio testing cost $150. Your dietician costs $225.

Your total is now $2,380 + $150 + $225 = $2605. But wait, we give you $150 (coupons) discount! So gym workout program package total is only $2,455!

Total workout program cost: About $2,600 after taxes! (Yikes!)

Jane: WOW! I thought I was getting a program? You didn’t give me anything I didn’t already know. I know I am out of shape, I know I need to workout, and I know I do not have $2,600 to blow on a workout program! This is insane! All you have done is shown me numbers on paper that show me my body fat % and my strength: I get it! I am out of shape! HELLO! That is why I joined a gym. I want a professional like you to show me what to do.

THINK ABOUT IT: The new gym member is now upset and confused; they do not have enough money to hire a trainer and have been convinced a personal trainer is the only way to succeed. This causes quite a bit of cognitive dissonance or conflicting beliefs. Many people are led to believe the only solution they have (personal training) is the one the cannot afford: They leave the gym defeated and more depressed.

FitnessPatterns: Do you know how many people hire trainers? Less than 2%.  Could the trainer use these 2 free sessions to give the gym member a starter workout program and cardio guide? But wait, the personal trainer does not get paid unless they sell sessions. Can you see the dilemma this causes? Gym members want help but only get assistance if/when they purchase products and services because of the 100% commission corporate environment.

Personal Trainer: Well this 3 month gym workout package IS your program. We are not able to write down workouts because liability.

FitnessPatterns: The personal trainer is lying. Wouldn’t the gym be more liable if they DO NOT show the gym members how to use the equipment? Couldn’t the personal trainer give the gym member a beginner tour or walk-thru with their free sessions? How about an equipment demonstration? Again, the personal trainer is stuck lying because the corporate structure forces them to sell sessions to get paid. The gym member gets hurt in the end because they receive no workout guidance.

Jane: I pay $75 per month for my membership! (now very upset) I thought I would get customer service at this price. I just want a workout program. I do not have thousands of dollars to hire a trainer. I can barely afford my membership! This is insane!

Personal Trainer: I understand you are upset but we at Never Fitness want you to be safe. The best way we can keep you safe is by having you work one on one with a personal trainer and dietician.

FitnessPatterns: Why does the gym not offer a middle-ground solution? Why would the gym ignore members who cannot afford hiring personal trainers? Do you think this price barrier has something to do with why people join and quit gyms on a yearly basis? (around New Years/Resolutions) It appears when people are unable to hire personal trainers at this particular gym they are ignored.

Jane: I can’t pay that! I just want to use my 2 free sessions for somebody to show me how to use the gym workout machines.

FitnessPatterns: This is confusion with information. PT will not help “Jane” unless she purchases some kind of product or service. Why? Because the personal trainer works on 100% commission: There is no incentive to help people for “free”. No money in free.

Again, the sales stress ruins the personal training service for both the gym member and the personal trainer. It appears the corporate gym logic built on sales goals prevents personal trainers from helping clients and stops gym members from learning how to exercise…. Do not let this happen to you. Do not feel pressured to buy. Learn how to exercise for free with my workout PHOTOS and CDC Beginner Workout Guide for adults!

Sadly this is where the story ends.

This story played out for 19 out of 20 gym members I met with during the course of my years working in high-priced fitness facilities. I started this website to provide free workout advice and guidance to people like “Jane” who could never afford hiring a personal trainer. I believe EVERYBODY deserves equal access to life-changing workout guidance and motivation. Use my website and 15+ years experience to build your confidence before you join a gym!

 Let me show you how to exercise without selling you sessions! Visit



Start here with my 12 minute beginner workout video!

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3 Replies to “The TRUTH about “Fitness Assessments” aka Sales Pitch in Disguise…”

  1. This is a B.S. sales pitch article. Any PT who can give a program with out setting a baseline or testing is malpractice. You sir are the reason why PTs get a bad name.

    1. Mike,
      Thank you for your comment.

      Your comment comes across as emotional and defensive. It appears you work for a company that operates in the manner which I described. There is no reason to be upset. You should not be angry that I tell the truth. The truth is painful.
      You have options; you can complain or you can DO SOMETHING and change the industry. The only person keeping you in a dead-end job selling sessions like used cars is you. Thank you for confirming the article by showing many personal trainers are stuck working in an industry fueled by selling sessions, sales pressure, and dishonesty! My visitors will love it!

  2. This is a lot to take in. As a mother of two kids you can imagine my rarely having income to spare at the local health club. The scenario you described above is nearly identical to my experience this past month. After a brief workout the trainer sat me down for “the talk”. 30 minutes later after he drew figures and numbers on the back of a workout he jumped right into the sales lingo. Just about everything you said took place. After politely declining the trainer’s services he became obviously frustrated. To this day he ignores me when I workout. Guess who is not getting my future business or any of my friends business? Thank you for being honest about selling!
    – Sherron

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