Friday, June 17, 2011

All Gyms Are Not Created Equal. Does Yours Suck?

Shortly after I started working at my first gym, I took a part-time job at another fitness center. I always remember the owner saying he disliked "negative" ads because it made the entire industry look bad. Although, as I remember it, the ad he was referring to didn't really say anything bad about other gyms. I don't remember the specifics but it was something like, "at our gym we'll help you get started / you won't feel intimidated / it's not crowded"- rather vague general statements like that. I guess he disliked the implication that all gyms weren't like that.

For a long time, I thought my old boss had a point and I didn't want to do anything to discredit the fitness industry. It's too important for people to exercise and, for most folks, I think the right gym is the best option. However, the key phrase in that last statement is "the right gym."

I've decided that we're actually doing a disservice to the industry by not acknowledging the shortcomings of too many gyms. There are way too many people who've had a bad experience and then paint all fitness centers with the same brush because they think we're all alike. It becomes, "I tried joining a gym but it didn't work" or "I joined a gym but I didn't like the men staring at the women doing step class" or "I hurt myself on one of the machines."

It may be good for my business but I'm tired of hearing how a woman joined a gym but did nothing but cardio because no one ever showed her how to use the strength equipment, let alone set her up on a proper program. (This happens to men, too but I own a women's gym.)

It upsets me that members of a certain chain are told they can do the same circuit day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and still get significant weight loss results.

You can't. Your body will adapt to doing the same thing over and over but they don't want to admit that because you'll end up cancelling your membership and going where you have more options.

I'm appalled that people actually get injured during a TRIAL workout because of the incompetence of a big box gym's trainer. I'm not making that up; it happened to one of my boot campers and you can read about it here ==> Becky's Big Gym Experience

It bothers me that woman (and probably some men who aren't muscleheads) are still made to feel like an annoyance in some gyms.

So what brought all this up?

I had asked one of my long-time members to make a video about why she liked Body & Soul Fitness Studio. (You can see it below.) When it kind of turned into a litany of what she'd experienced at other gyms, it was the final straw. Between Barb's video and the things listed above, I decided it was time to get real about what was happening in the fitness industry.

The important thing to know is that there are gyms out there with qualified instructors, that care about whether you actually use your membership, that keep up on the latest research and that teach you how to exercise correctly for your goals. Here's one ==> 

There are gyms where members are expected to return their weight plates and dumbbells when they're finished and they are not allowed to leave puddles of sweat on equipment for someone else to clean up.

I will be writing more about the differences in fitness facilities but, for now, don't give up. If you're thinking of joining a gym, get my free report, "How To Choose The Right Fitness Center For You" at

Here's Barb's video. She does talk more about Body & Soul in another video :-) . I'll post that soon.

Leave a comment below and tell me about your good or bad gym experiences.



Meg said...

I belong to 24 Hour Fitness, which has its ups and downs. My particular club is affordable (I'm unemployed but I insist on staying fit) and it's two blocks from my apartment, so I can walk to it (and do, even in the rain). This particular club is managed well enough so things are always clean, but there are a lot of muscleheads who don't put weights away or leave sweaty tissues on the cardio equipment, etc.

Also, I never would've known what I was doing if I hadn't payed a bunch extra for personal training--which I did because I was obese (5'2" and 220 pounds) and needed to lose weight. My trainer taught me a ton of exercises and how to lift weights, and I feel like I can really do well on my own now. But again, I had to pay for it.

It's not perfect, but I feel quite at home there and am generally left to do my thing without guys leering at me, which is nice. Plus it's convenient and everyone who works there knows me by name (except the late-night crew!).

Mickey said...

Hi Meg,

Thanks for taking the time to tell me about your experience. I love your attitude about staying fit; way too many people would have used unemployment as an excuse to drop their membership (but continue with $100+ cable payments ;-) ).

I'm glad you found a place that works for you even if it isn't perfect. Location and feeling like you belong are key. Cleanliness is very important to most women but it sucks that the muscleheads don't clean up their weights. Do they think their mothers work there? Management really should address that.

It's too bad you had to spend a bundle to even get started correctly but it definitely sounds like it was a worthwhile investment. Being able to work out on your own with good form and the right exercises makes a big difference.

If you're ever on this end of the country - Lancaster, PA specifically - give me a call. I'd love to give you a free personal training session or have you try out a boot camp workout.

Thanks again for commenting.

Meg said...

When I lost my job last year, I told my parents, "I don't care if I'm living on $1,800 a month. I will continue working out." And every six months, I buy fresh running shoes so that I have proper support when I run. I know myself well enough that if I didn't insist on staying in shape, I'd be a stressed-out mess! Besides, I have all this time, so I can work out but also stop and chat with my former trainer for a few minutes, and I'm not so rushed.

Mickey said...

I wish more people "got it", Meg.

Exercise does as much for your emotional and mental well being as it does for your physical.

Keep at it and good luck with your job search.