Gyms and health clubs have seemingly become a part of everyday American life. As our lifestyles have become more sedentary in the workplace (and at home) we’ve had to resort to more drastic measures to keep our bodies in shape. Nowadays, it seems like people spend countless hours trekking away on treadmills and exercise bikes that don’t even move. We act like gerbils running in a wheel, not going anywhere, and still frequently not accomplishing the goals that we have set for ourselves.
What really works? Why is it that so many gym goers still look like crap? There are a few details about the facility that you choose which might make a difference in your exercise success.
The first type of facility that I want to look at is your run of the mill corporate gym. If you signed up for one of these, you probably barely pay anything per month. I know of some corporate gyms that are charging less than ten dollars for 30 days of membership. This is a good thing, as long as you’re ready to motivate yourself and get to work. The problem with this structure is that you end up sharing a gym with people that frequently don’t give a crap about working out. At ten dollars per month, people are happy to have the money automatically debited and NEVER SHOW UP. This allows the gyms to WAY oversell their memberships, because people aren’t really using the facility. When they do decide to show up, they dawdle around and get in your way. The cardio machines are full, the squat rack is always empty. These aren’t my favorite place to work out, it just seems like everyone is looking at me strangely.
The next spot I want you to think about is the luxury gym. These have the pool that you probably never use, and top of the line machines that don’t do anything different than other machines. They frequently are made of space age plastic. As you can expect, the membership dues in these gyms tend to leave behind your average meat-head who brings some intensity to the gym… for some reason, it seems to exclude most people under the age of 45. Now what were left with is a bunch of old folks that not only lack any intensity, but do some of the silliest exercises I’ve ever seen. I watch them sometimes, and wonder how they actually believe their routine might be working. There is a pool that I never step foot in, and a mouthwash dispenser that I never use… or sometimes use. This place feels more like a very nice crypt than a gym.
The next gym is your average hard-core gym. I have to say that I’m fond of these places because the people work hard! You actually get to feed of the energy within the room for once. You would be surprised at the difference it makes to have a group of intense athletes listening to loud music, instead of some tool-bags that intimidatedly walk around with their Ipods and spend most of their time resting on the equipment. Chalk is all over the floor. It doesn’t smell good. However, people work hard and they get results. Sometimes, out of boredom, the exercises get a little too theoretical and nonsensical. Everyone is trying to read up on the latest Russian kettle-bell techniques. Regardless, these are places where you can develop some camaraderie and get a high energy work-out in.
The final spot that I want to highlight is your personal training studio. These are as good as the person who is in charge of your training. Your trainer doesn’t have to be the smartest, or the most knowledgeable, but he has to know how to motivate you to work harder than you would work yourself. It also helps if he or she educates you so that you can continue to develop on your own time. At my studio, we focus on fitness training, but I combine martial arts and self-defense. Its good to make people lift weights and such, but I find that I get a much different response when I ask them to punch or kick something. This can be an intense experience, and leaves people exhausted. You will definitely spend more money at a private training studio, but if you find the right one, it is well worth the money.