It’s unfortunate, but plenty of people feel intimidated at the thought of joining a gym. Walking into a huge open room with hundreds of mysterious machines is tough and what’s worse is that the members seem to be in great shape and know exactly what they’re doing. It’s not hard to see why so many people think they’re too out of shape to join a gym.
The good news is that there are many choices for how and where you workout and each gym offers a different type of atmosphere. The trick is to find one that feels welcoming to you.
Navigating the gym can throw anyone for a loop, even experienced exercisers. It’s normal to experience those fears when you join a gym and it’s not hard to see why when you look at how some health clubs are set up.
Find the Right Gym for You
If you tend to be intimidated by gyms, but you still want a place you can work out, there are some other options out there for you. All it takes is a little time and research to find the right place for you.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a health club, from location to membership fees and contracts. But none of that matters if it doesn’t have the right kind of atmosphere.
When looking for a gym, you want to find a place where you feel comfortable and that might not always be at the nearest chain such as 24 Hour Fitness, Bally’s, Gold’s, or Lifetime Fitness. Although these types of gyms usually offer a wide range of services and classes, the large spaces and sometimes aggressive salespeople can make it uncomfortable for some. For more individualized and caring attention as well as a welcoming atmosphere, check out some of these ideas.
The YMCA is a non-profit community service organization focusing on family health and wellness. Though each one is different, most offer a relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and a great place for families to exercise and play together. Check into your local YMCA to see what kinds of programs they have to offer, both for kids and adults.
The JCC is another family-friendly place offering everything from gym workouts to group fitness classes. Like the YMCA, they also offer plenty of camps and programs for kids as well as daycare services. And you don’t have to be Jewish to join.
Many cities and towns have a Parks & Recreation Department offering fitness classes (for adults and kids), fitness centers, kids programs and more. These types of places are often casual and relaxed rather than ‘hardcore’ like some other types of gyms. You can often join fitness classes (like yoga or tai chi) without having to pay a gym membership and it’s a great place to meet your neighbors without feeling like you’re in a competitive atmosphere.
Check with your local parks department to find out what’s available in your town.
Many hospitals now offer gym services, which is a great choice whether you have a medical condition or not. The staff at these types of gyms are usually very well-trained and, of course, you have access to medical advice if you need it.
These types of clubs (like Curves) usually offer 30-minute circuits that combine strength and aerobic training in one workout. Because they’re women-only and no-frills, many women feel comfortable working out in this type of environment.
One drawback is that doing the same workout for too long can lead to weight loss plateaus and boredom.
The hydraulic machines preclude any weighted eccentric movements (the lowering of the weight). Although Curves claims this is safer and reduces injury, this actually means that muscles aren’t being trained functionally. Muscles need to be able to handle the weight (whether it’s with machines or picking up a child) through a full range of motion. Still, this can be a great place for beginners, especially if you stay month-to-month.
Many personal training studios are small and a bit more homey than big gyms. You may find it more comfortable to work out in this type of environment and you may even be able to schedule private sessions with a trainer. The only downside is that you usually can’t use it as you would a gym (i.e., showing up at any time for a workout) but only for individual sessions with your trainer.
If you decide to join a gym, there are some things you can do to make the experience easier and more enjoyable:
It’s important to know that the gym isn’t for everyone, so you shouldn’t feel you have to join one to get a great workout. You can easily set up your own home gym, use workout videos or take your workouts outside. You can also hire in-home personal trainers to get one-on-one instruction without the distraction of other exercisers.