I've been working at a local commercial-esque gym for about 6 months now. I was "up front" for a couple months but for the remainder I have been a trainer. It's been quite the (enjoyable) challenge implementing SS with my clients, all of whom are basically exclusively Masters.

3 of my clients are above 40, 1 is pregnant, and the other is in her 20s. The Masters, by far, have been the most successful and willing to do SS. They see the purpose of all the movements. They don't care about bringing up muscle groups or "toning." They want to feel more confident and function better in the world. Giving a 64 year old the power to squat close to half her bodyweight, when on the first day (the consultation) she thought the little chrome plates were "heavy," in just a few weeks gives her both function and confidence.

I did not have success implementing SS with my pregnant client--and shouldn't have expected to. She is, even without the pregnancy, very overweight (300+), she has no experience lifting heavy (I had to tell her that leg pressing 500 doesn't count as heavy lifting). As of now, I just have her exercising (though she does quite enjoy the OHP, so we have been training it in a not-so-linear fashion). She plans on continuing with me after her pregnancy, during which time I plan to implement SS in full.

The 20-ish year old is by far the toughest client, in terms of attention span and getting her to understand the benefit of full body training. She only trains once a week, and she just wants to "tone up" and really "spot reduce" some back fat. With her, I've had to basically trick her slowly into doing starting strength, perhaps against my ethics but I think the ends justify the means in this case (sorry Kant). We began by just "doing legs": goblet squatting (that barbell is too scary!), lunging, RDL-ing, etc. After a couple sessions of gaining some trust with her, she has begun OHP-ing (the bar's so wobbly at the top! does this work the core??) and front squatting. We'll see if I can get the BB on her back.

But back to my Masters. The oldest two of my three Masters have been by far the best clients, in terms of trainability, personality and sense of gratitude. Both of them (mid 60s) "couldn't" squat below parallel with just bodyweight at first. They COULD but of course that's just SO FAR down there, and they usually just lacked the confidence to do so. The way I helped them along with this is to get a box and just have them box squat. This was really invaluable I think. Though I do think some of the reservation to squat BP comes from a lack of confidence, a lot of it really is just a lack of coordination and strength. The latter is especially true when first teaching the squat, i.e. having them squat down bodyweight and shove the knees out with the elbows. It apparently takes a certain amount of strength to just "hang out" down there long enough to be coached through all of the important points. Enter the box.

We don't have any OLY bars lighter than 45, so I scrounged up anything I could. On the cable machines we have a long bar that's used for..well who cares..and it was just long enough to work quite well; it weighs about 5-10 pounds. This got them used to squatting with something on their back and not having their hands out in front of them, which is a big step. Once they were coordinated enough to do that, it was a short while before they were under the bar. The only other intermediary stage consisted of me having them squat with an EZ Curl bar. I know, not optimal. But it weighs more than the "whatever-bar" and it's incrementally loadable. Currently, each is now on the barbell making solid progress on the lifts, 2.5# jumps on squats, 1# on press.

Diet wise, I've been fairly non-invasive other than demanding a couple protein shakes a day, I actually managed to get one of the Masters off of a vegan diet (she wasn't on it for any ethical reasons; she just thought it was healthy), and I've gotten them out of less-than-1,500-calorie-diets. I've followed the general principle that until progress stalls in the gym, don't change what's going on outside the gym.

I write all of this just to say that it's possible, even if not AT ALL optimal, to implement SS (or some close brethren thereof) in a commercial gym. It is not at all optimal for reasons that are already known by anyone who knows anything about commercial gyms and SS. There is one squat rack, which is occasionally taken by bros for silly shit. In these instances, I'll have them OHP before squatting until the rack clears up. (We have another barbell that we can use for this and I will basically act as the rack from which they take the barbell. Far from optimal, but currently the weight is so light relative to my strength levels, that I feel confident in spotting them outside of a rack.)

I'm making the best out of the situation I'm in and am not at all planning to be here for long. It's far better than what the other trainers in my gym are doing. One "trainer" (he is in fact the "Head Trainer") actually approached me recently as I was writing down my clients progress in her journal and asked, "You're still writing stuff down, my man? Ah, mine's all up here," as he point to his big meathead. Easy enough when you have your client doing something different everyday. It's all about mixing stuff up and keeping them engaged, MY MAN. Not one meaningful step closer to fighting off anything associated with the Sick Aging Phenotype, but thank God she's engaged.

It's so easy when you just got a job at a gym as a PT--your FIRST job at a gym as a PT--to buckle under the pressure and allure of constant variety for fear of losing your client(s), being viewed as simplistic and even as dangerous (I wish you could've seen the look on the GM's face when I told her that my 64 yo client squatted 70 for 3x5 below paralle--not quite what she had in mind when I told her I'd be teaching my clients functional movements). But if you do so buckle, then you haven't fully grasped the rationality of the SS method. You don't have to take it on faith. And neither does your client if you do your job. So, PT's out there, if you are at a commercial gym, then you can still do something very close to SS with your clients--and that "something", though not at all optimal, is so, so much better for your client (and for you) than anything else out there. But still...plan your escape to somewhere in which you can do SS in full (your clients will likely follow).