Everybody knows Bruce Lee. And if you work out at Merritt Clubs Cranbrook, chances are you've had at least one conversation with him.
That's because Bruce is the type of guy who cares about every person that comes into the gym. He loves engaging with anybody on the fitness floor. He values all members of Merritt and strives to have them feel that the club is an extension of family.
In this Q&A we talk about the importance of a gym community with Bruce Lee, Personal Training Director and Assistant General Manager at Merritt Clubs Cranbrook.
What made you get into personal training and how long have you been with Merritt?
It was pretty much a natural transition getting into personal training. I was an athlete all my life. I played sports since I was 5. I played football, basketball and I ran track.
In college I played football but I was always a “workout warrior”, if you will. I was one of those guys that love to be in the gym. For example, anytime we have time to do our 6AM programs or conditioning work, my teammates always wanted to work out with me. ‘Cause I made it fun. I didn’t view it as “Oh God, we gotta go work out.” I viewed it as “Yes! Hitting the gym! Let’s get better!”
So I was just always into fitness. I enjoyed the grind of lifting and conditioning. I always liked it. And then I realized that I made other people like it. So that was the first time I noticed it, in college. And then when I was in grad school, I realized I can actually get paid to do this.
I actually got approached while I was working out at Merritt. I was a member working out and again, same as I am here, I just talk to everybody and work hard in the gym. And the manager at that time just came up to me one day and was like, “Hey, you ever thought about being a personal trainer?” And honestly I hadn’t because I was going to school for athletic training. So that was really what piqued my interest. He was like, “You’d be really good at it.” And I was hesitant, a little nervous ‘cause I didn’t know anything about it.
But eventually that summer when I was out of school I took him up on it and I never looked back. That was 2007. I’ve been a personal trainer for over 10 years and in a leadership role with Merritt for 3 years now.
There seems to be a strong sense of community in your fitness floor. How did you get to build that?
I honestly engage every single member that I encounter. Whether it’s a personal training client or somebody who just comes in and does cardio everyday, somebody who does group fitness everyday. I literally talk to every single person in the gym. I mean, just going, “Hey, how are you doing?”
If they told me that they were trying to achieve some weight loss goal or some PR, I’ll remember it. I’ll follow up with them and ask them how that’s going. I know when someone has bought a new car or someone has bought a house. I know when someone gets engaged. You know, just because I genuinely care about the people that come here. We’re in business because of the members so I genuinely appreciate them. I was a member at health clubs my entire life so I know how important it is to feel value in your gym. And you want to feel comfortable in your gym. You spend a lot of time in your gym.
How important is it to have a gym community? How does it benefit each member?
I think it’s very important because you want each member to feel value. You want each member to feel like the gym is like an extension of family. ‘Cause you’re spending a lot of time in the gym. When you think about it, a lot of people work out 3 to 5 days a week. You spend a lot of time there. So you want to feel comfortable and you want to feel valued when you come into the gym. You don’t want to just come in, people not speak to you, or people are mad, or they look mean, or whatever. That’s not gonna make you feel comfortable.
The gym can be a vulnerable place for a lot of people. You have all different types of people coming in - some people have extreme weight loss goals, some people have eating disorders or problems, you never know what somebody’s dealing with. So I just feel like making every person that comes into the gym comfortable. And it makes the experience that much better.
What advice can you give to someone who is thinking of joining a gym?
The first piece of advice I would give someone is to not be intimidated. A lot of people are intimidated of the gym. Don’t be intimidated. Be yourself. Come in and have fun. It’s not that scary of a place.
And everybody is really focusing on their own goals. I know a lot of people that worry about judgement, but, just be yourself!