While there are many, many things that go into having a healthy lifestyle, when it comes to your physiological health (the characteristics pertaining to a healthily functioning organism), it can really be boiled down to two parts: eating and moving.
And when it comes to moving, or exercising, specifically of those two, we have established in previous blogs that even a little makes a big difference and anything is WAY better than nothing. You can read more about this truth in our blog posts; Where to Start When Exercising Isn’t For You or What If I Don’t Exercise, where we break down how even a little exercise makes a big impact and what those impacts are.
As you gain understanding and value in this truth, build healthy habits, and maybe even start to see the results, you will be ready for the next steps in continuing to work on improving your physical health. And there are few steps bigger than beginning strength training.
There are many benefits to strength training: you get stronger, burn more calories, tone your muscles, decrease risk of injury, improve the health of your heart and other organs, increase bone density, live longer-better, improve self-esteem, reap other mental health benefits, and more.
When you are opening the can of strength training, likely gyms start to pop into your head. This is for good reason because, while you can do some strength training at home, the tools available to take that to the next level in the gym are vast.
In this article we will talk about some signs that it’s time for you to think about joining a gym, pros and cons of joining a gym, and how to find a gym that’s right for you. Let’s jump in!
5 signs that it may be time to join a gym…
1. You’re struggling to meet your fitness goals
Whatever your goals were when you started to exercise, it is common to struggle with hitting them for many people.
There are a host of reasons this could be the case, and many changes you can make to try and find the reason and fix it. One reason that you may not be hitting your goals that should be considered is: are you putting yourself in the right environment.?
A gym is an environment for exactly that, meeting your fitness goals. When you go to a gym you remove other distractions from your environment that are keeping you from exercising and meeting your goals tied to exercising more.
2. You need more equipment.
When you begin strength training, having the right equipment will unlock a lot of potential. Yes, yes, you can do pushups and squats in your living room and those are strength exercises. However, they do have a limit of how far they can challenge you and how easy they are to modify for different results.
Getting more equipment is huge - but to get equipment you need money and space. And if you are trying to be conscious of these things by only getting a single set up dumbbells, you will run into the same limitations eventually.
Unless you have a garage and thousands of dollars to invest in a home gym, joining a gym may be the answer to getting more equipment. You will have many different items to use at a gym, and you will not have to worry about where you will store it all.
3. You need accountability or community.
The gym is a great place to find both accountability and community. It comes in different forms depending on the gym you join and your personality. But when you place yourself in an environment where everyone around you is also there to meet their goals and get healthier, you will share in that endeavor and find that accountability and community are very present.
4. You are bored with your current workouts.
One way to fight boredom when working out is to find a place where you can mix it up easily and interact with others while doing it.
Gyms offer you the ability to do many different types of exercises due to the many different types of equipment available. As well as potential class offerings and relationships you can build at a gym as well.
5. You are ready to level up.
As we said when talking about equipment, you will eventually see the limitations of having little, or no, equipment at home. The combined effects of being in a setting where you can expand the types of exercises you are doing, the amount of weight you use, and access professional help, are huge when you are looking to take the next step.
Pros and cons of joining a gym…
· More equipment: Exercises can be a lot easier when you have lots of options to choose from.
· Classes and professional guidance: Participating in group exercise and being led by a trainer give another element when compared to exercising alone at home.
· Community: There’s something about being in a gym and sweating alongside everyone else that gives you energy.
· Focus: When you take away the distractions it becomes a lot easier to put more effort into exercising.
· Motivation: Making a commitment to a gym through paying for a membership, driving to the gym, and connecting with others at the gym, will up your drive to stay committed to being productive with your exercise routines.
· Cost: There is certainly a monetary cost to joining a gym.
· Time: It takes longer to do your 45-minute routine when you have to also pack your bag and drive there.
· Crowds: Being in a gym comes with other people, while that can largely be a good thing also, not everyone is fun to be around, and it will take some adjustment to get used to.
I believe that all of the cons I listed are either outweighed by the pros or can be combated with other actions. It still takes some added effort to overcome them and is important to recognize and prepare for them so that you can use the gym to best meet your goals.
Finding the right gym…
I’ve convinced you, eh? That’s awesome! Now let’s dive into finding the right gym for you and make sure you are set up for success.
What are you looking for in a gym…
You don’t need to just pick one at random and then never look back, it helps to think about what you want most out of a gym and make sure that the one you sign up for meets those desires.
Are you just looking to lift weights then get out of there? Do you want to also bring your cardio exercise into the gym as well? Would you be interested in participating in group fitness classes if they are offered at your gym? Do you work out before going to the office and need a shower facility as well?
There are a lot of things that you need to investigate when on a gym-hunt. Take a few minutes to think about what you want to get from a gym and check out a few to see which gym will meet your needs.
There are national gym chains (like Planet Fitness or LA Fitness), then there are local private gyms, and even athletic clubs if you are looking to get more amenities even outside of your workout routine.
A small private gym where you get to know the owner and don’t have to wait for a particular piece of equipment might be good if you are just looking to lift weights, but if you want a place you can make into a second home by having a pool, sauna, and basketball courts too, then an athletic club might fit those needs better. There are many different shapes and sizes of gyms, evaluating what you want to get out of a gym is very important.
Where is the gym located…
If they gym that you like best is a lengthy drive away, and not on your commute route, then that may take it out of the running. In addition to making sure your gym has the amenities that you are looking for, you also need to make sure that going regularly is not going to be a challenge.
It’s a good idea to consider a gym that you already drive by during your commute or errands so that you see it often and making a trip to the gym is not going to be a large burden to your time.
How much money should you spend on a gym membership…
This is different for everyone, but important for everyone too. You want to join a gym that is sustainable to keep going to for a long time and won’t be the victim of budget cuts down the road. Some of the national chain gyms can be very affordable – while an athletic club or private fitness facility takes a bigger investment.
Take a few minutes during your gym-hunt to think about what you can afford. Are you cutting something else out of your life to make room for a gym membership? That may be a factor in knowing how much financial wiggle room you have.
Pro Tip: If you can, look to join a gym when they are running a promotion where you can get a deal. January is a great time to look as it’s very common for gyms to do this at the time potential members are making new year’s resolutions and reevaluating their goals for the year (but if you’re looking in April, it may not make sense to wait nine months either).
Making the commitment…
When you find a gym that you think is right for you, test it out. Most gyms offer a guest pass to try it out, that is something you should certainly ask for if not offered! Take a look at the contract, make sure that you are aware of all the cancellation and renewal policies, then sign on the dotted line!
It is a very exciting step, so capitalize on that feeling, don’t join a gym then wait two weeks to use it. Who knows how you will be feeling in two weeks… Once you are at this point be sure to schedule time for going and plan your gym visits on your calendar ahead of time.
Either on your own or with a trainer, set your new fitness goals with the gym, design a workout plan, track your progress, and enjoy!
Congratulations on taking a huge step towards improving your health, I think that you will find a commitment to a gym, paired with the follow through to use it (even a little), when done regularly will yield results that will impact your life in major ways.
You will get stronger, feel better both physically and mentally, and you will be making improvements that will last a lifetime – they will actually even make your lifetime longer!
If you need help knowing what to do at the gym, don’t worry, there are many resources out there to help you build a quality workout and get the most out of a gym. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, hire a trainer (in person or online), and get your feet wet by going at your own pace.
Just keep forward motion and remember that everyone starts somewhere, and most everyone will applaud you for this step, we certainly do!
Happy gym-hunting and good work on stepping into a gym.