How to Pick The Right Gym For You

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It sounds super swanky doesn’t it – appointment only. It sounds like one of those gyms where everything is as white as snow and the trainers have names like Zeus or Nemesis; where the towels are fluffier than clouds and unicorn tears come out of the showers. Yeh….it’s not like that at all – it’s in an industrial estate in the middle of Essex and my trainer is called Gary….oh and as I arrive and leave in kit, I haven’t even seen the showers – but since I checked the place out in December I’ve  already visited this gym more than the normal gym I joined earlier last year – and I was on holiday for three weeks of that!!!

Rule One of Choosing a Gym: Make sure it’s convenient

I originally went to see this gym because it’s only a nine minute run from my house – which was 15 minutes closer than my other gym. That might not sound much, but in my mind, it meant the difference between taking an hour to do a 40 minute workout – and taking 90 minutes to do the same thing (or not as the case was increasingly turning out to be). Time is the thing I lack most in life and so this was a huge bonus. At this point though I thought it was a normal gym.

It was only once I went in to see them I found out the difference. You can’t just turn up as and when, you have to book a time and then, for the hour you’re in there (or a carefully negotiated 40 minutes in my case) you have a trainer telling you what to do. Originally, I really wasn’t struck by this as a concept – the reason I never went to the other gym was I don’t have a life that works well with routine and my plans to go and workout would always get messed up. However I realised that the key word in that was ‘MY’ plans – you see, while I will happily cancel something I’ve arranged with myself, there has to be a VERY good reason for me to cancel something involving anyone else. Ting….lightbulb…..! If I book the appointment with the trainer, I won’t cancel.

Rule Two of Choosing a Gym: Feel comfortable in it

I also like the fact that because everyone has to listen to a trainer no-one has headphones in. This means you get to have little chats to people while you workout (when you can speak that is – I’m not talking to anyone when doing a minute sprint on the treadmill!). I’m not the thinnest there, I’m not the biggest there – I’m not the fastest, or the slowest. That works for me.

And so far it’s working okay – I admit this morning when a couple of work surprises meant I was at my desk at 5.30am to ensure I could get everything due by lunchtime out before my scheduled 11am session didn’t make me hugely happy but, normally I’d have cancelled my workout entirely so……WINNING.

I’m also loving having someone tell me what to do each workout – I never do the same move twice – today for example, I played with a ball full of sand mixing up burpees on the ball (ugggh) followed by slamming it on the floor then throwing at the wall for 20 reps. I followed that with treadmill intervals, seguing into a kettlebell swing and squat combo -before doing timed sprints on the cross trainer – and that was just about 10 minutes of my session. Seriously, my body doesn’t know what’s hit it. Admittedly, I’ve had to have a little chat about destroying my legs on  a Friday as the DOMS has played havoc with my weekend runs, but so far I’m having a blast. And it’s the same price as I was paying to go to Virgin Active.

My membership is for three months initially, at that point I will have to start ramping up the running ready to start training for Disneyland Paris so we’ll see then as to whether I want to continue. I think it will depend on my results – I’m aiming to increase my upper body strength, which right now is pathetic and strengthen my core so my stupid back doesn’t keep going kerbloey – and if we manage to also strip a heap of fat off me while we do that, well I won’t be angry!!!

Rule Three of Choosing a Gym: Make sure it offers what you need

This is where the ‘appointment only, trainer focused’ plan falls down a little bit and so I admit, I haven’t cancelled my old gym membership. I’m also still a member at The Gym too – it’s only £17 a month and I wanted to keep the option of being able to just go off and row or cycle steadily for half an hour or, if I need to test out an app or new training idea for here, I had somewhere to try them. I also didn’t want to commit to timed appointments at the weekend as because my week is so scheduled, I tend to wake up on a Saturday and see what I want to do – rather than have a list of things I feel I have to do – and the other gym let’s me do that. Feel free to call me ‘Helen Two Gyms’ if you like.

So there you have it – an update on what’s happening with me. I’m aware that since I redesigned the blog I haven’t really mentioned my running or other training at all and I just wanted you to know I wasn’t sitting round eating truffles all day.

So, if making appointments helps me stick to my workout, what’s the secret that helps you stick to yours? And what other things do you think you should consider when joining a gym?


Image: this thing on? Talk to me, it's lonely down here

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