With Panama’s unemployment rate at an impressive 4%, I’ve come to appreciate just having a warm body.
A couple of months ago I decided to hire a personal trainer and asked for recommendations via a robust expat Facebook group. Only send me your best referrals, I requested. I only want to train with someone who has experience getting results.
Back come 4 recommendations including someone several folks touted as “the best” trainer in Panama. Of course, I contact him first. After one conversation, “best” promises to get back to me in 2 days. I never hear from him again. When I follow-up with him on Facebook, I get no response. So down the list I go contacting another trainer via phone and txt, who promises me call me at 8:30 am the next morning. I never hear from him either. Via Facebook I strike out a couple more times with referrals for people who aren’t actually in the country.
Figuring I’m on my own, I renew my gym membership and start showing up. I’d seen the way trainers there worked with other clients and none of them struck me as “the best.” Having lived in LA for many years and trained with some amazing people, including Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser, I wasn’t impressed by PowerClub’s crew. Many of them trained several clients at a time and didn’t appear as fit or focused as I’d prefer my trainer to be.
But I’m now a bit desperate to share the effort of my weight training, which I hate to do, and ask for a recommendation at the front desk. I’m not sure if the attendant thought he was the best or if he just happened to be walking by, but I’m quickly introduced to Eduardo (not his real name) who looks more interested in where he is heading for lunch than chatting with me. While I can’t say I like it, I’m now accustomed to the less than effervescent greeting most Panamanians give their customers. I let Eduardo’s expression slide, explain what I’m looking for and make my first appointment.
The next morning I arrive and Eduardo tells me to jump on one of the cardio machines for 30 minutes. Then we hit the weights for another hour. I’m getting a good workout but it’s not entirely due to Eduardo’s exceptional training skills. While he checks WhatsApp, talks to another trainer who’s off the clock, and crosses the gym to chat with another lady, I complete the second and third sets of exercises unsupervised and using the wall clock to time myself.
Honestly, this is not the worse thing in the world since 1) I’m pretty good with exercise and don’t need a lot of instruction or correction; 2) I’m only paying $20/session; and 3) I couldn’t get any other trainer to call me back!
Forget criteria, checking references and asking about previous clients. If I’d held out for “the best” I’d still be waiting to tone my triceps. This week I’m grateful for a warm body.