Despite what the title of this blog may have you believe, I don’t know Rebecca Kennedy. I’ve never met her. Never spoken with her. I don’t think I follow her on social media.
But through my research I have learned that she is an instructor for Peloton and, I believe, is (was?) a personal trainer here in New York.
And even though the trainer community in the City is a relatively small, tight-knit circle, as far as I can tell, we’ve never crossed paths. I’m sure she’s a lovely person.
This blog isn’t actually about Ms. Kennedy at all but about one of her disciples.
Evelyn (I’ve changed her name) came by to check out the gym about a year ago and sat directly across the table from where I am typing out this very blog.
An older – I’d say early 50’s – woman with a Brooklyn-Jewish accent and a short, snow white pixie haircut, Evelyn had fallen off the fitness bandwagon early on in the pandemic and was scoping out her options.
Our conversation started as nearly all of them do. I wanted to hear what attracted her to the gym. What was she looking to gain from training? What had she done in the past?
After filling me in briefly on her training and injury history and detailing what fitness hopes and dreams she was aiming to accomplish, Evelyn seemingly made it her mission to rub me the wrong way.
She immediately started questioning everything that we did. What led us to come up with our current training philosophy? Why would she only be allowed to train in groups? Is it really necessary to even lift weights if you want to get in shape? Why would we structure our memberships with a specific number of training sessions per week? Why couldn’t she just come in whenever she wanted?
It seemed like her method of questioning anything and everything gained momentum as she spoke. They started fairly simple and straightforward. By the end she stopped just short of questioning my very existence.
I felt like I should be wearing a helmet.
As little patience as I typically have for nonsense, I actually enjoy speaking to potential clients like Evelyn. It allows me to reinforce and defend the decisions that have led our facility to its current training modalities and business structure. Plus, I recognize that these types of meetings can be scary or intimidating for some people. And that fear may express itself in less-than-gracious ways.
Also, dealing with “difficult” sales is good practice. It’s just like training. Doing difficult things makes everything else seem a lot easier.
So when Evelyn tried to pick apart our training methodology I took pride in being able to quickly and convincingly give her our justifications.
When she questioned the systems of organization, I happily shared with her the flexibility of our scheduling and memberships in order to remove the barriers of training and do not only what works for our business but meets the needs of our clients.
My patience was aided by the fact that Evelyn was catching us at a challenging time. We were still pretty decimated by the mandatory COVID shut down. We could use all the clients we could get.
But something strange was happening. The better my ability to auswage her concerns, the more frustrated she seemed to become. Like she was feverishly trying to poke holes in a steel plate with a plastic straw.
And that was the moment when, no longer armed with any potential problems that couldn’t be addressed, she told me, “Well, I used to train with Rebecca Kennedy. And, you don’t understand, Rebecca Kennedy changed my life.”
“There’s no way that any of you can train me like she did.”
Our interview process is a two-way street. We certainly want to make sure that this is a good fit for you. That you are going to get what you want out of training here. That you have a really good understanding of our process and the things you can expect to accomplish. We want you to feel good about training here. To be comfortable the very first time you walk through the door and every time afterwards.
But we also need to make sure that this is a good fit for us as well. That you’ll be a positive and encouraging member of our community. That you are open to coaching and willing to be part of a team. That you want to be down here.
And it became very clear in that instant that Evelyn wasn’t for us. So just like a Seinfeld episode where Jerry is out on a first date and discovers there is something about the woman sitting across the table that he’ll never be able to get over, I ended it right then and there.
Evelyn seemed shocked by this rapid change in the energy of the interview but I was beyond the point of caring. My fuse is long but once it’s burned down there is no more room for the spark.
She was back-peddling. Telling me that she would “think it over.” But it was too late. There was no offer.
As I quickly stood up to show her out of the gym I couldn’t resist asking one more question.
“Evelyn, if you’ve had such good success with your trainer, why wouldn’t you just go back to her?”
She muttered that she was just too busy and didn’t have time for her on her schedule.
But I got the impression, listening to her delivery and watching the expression on her face, that quite possibly her trainer was just as tired of this woman’s bullshit as I was.
Like I said, I’ve never met her, but Rebecca Kennedy seems pretty smart to me.