“I NEED TO GET IN BETTER SHAPE BEFORE I GO TO A GYM”
I’ve been told this before. More than once. And I’m 100% sure many other people have thought it.
I understand. A gym can be intimidating to individuals who have never been to a gym. But think about it. How many times have you heard someone say “I feel too bad to go to the doctor? I need to wait until I’m better” or “I’m bleeding too much to go to the emergency room. I’ll go when the bleeding stops”?
What they are really saying is “I feel too overweight to be seen in the gym” or just as often “I feel too weak (or too skinny) to be seen in the gym”
In many cases the fitness industry has created this problem for themselves. The public sees too many fitness magazines, brochures, and articles showing perfectly chiseled men and perfectly shaped bikini models…. on the cover, in the articles and in the ads.
News flash folks! Those guys and girls in the magazines are not real! They are photographed after weeks of preparation by the models. The lighting is professionally done, extensive make up is applied to face and body and they are all photo shopped. No one looks that way every day! Even though they make their living posing for those shots. Even professional body builders only look “stage ready” for a few weeks out of the year. Any longer looking “stage ready” and their health begins to suffer.
Simply pay a visit to your local gym. Ask to be shown around the facility. They will be happy to assign a staff member to show you around. Don’t just pay attention to the facility. Also pay attention to the members. Sure, you’ll see a few hard core gym rats sporting tank tops and big arms. But you’ll see many more ordinary people just like you at various stages of their fitness journey.
Note that different facilities have different personalities. If you are uncomfortable you may want to stick to the friendly local gyms or the big box gyms as opposed to gyms with names like “Junk Yard Dogs” ”Prison Yard Strong” or “Curl ‘till You Puke Fitness and Dance Studio”.
Pick your fitness center the same way you do your family doctor or your mechanic. Recommendations of people you trust, reputation, and your own comfort level.
One caveat; look for a gym where you can actually work on your goals and work hard. Some are nothing more than day care centers for adults who offer you tootsie rolls, free pizza and free donuts. I’m serious! Oh, and they’ll kick you out if you grunt.
Another problem can be vast array of shiny, complicated looking, and BIG equipment. As physiology becomes better understood the number and variety of equipment and machines has multiplied. I can show you 18 different machines or apparatus on which to do the equivalent of a bench press. A big box gym may have dozens of different machines and hundreds of pieces of other various equipment.
The staff will be happy (in fact they will probably insist) that a staff member or trainer show you how to use all the various pieces of equipment. Most are fairly simple despite their appearance. Any time you want to use a machine you are not familiar with. They have staff to assist you. Don’t try to fake it.
The fitness industry has their own rules of etiquette. But so do most other social venues. Classrooms, waiting rooms, restaurants, business meetings, and almost everywhere else you go. Gym rules are fairly straight forward and based mostly on common sense. For example; Don’t start a conversation with someone while he or she is holding 200 pounds of iron above their head. Don’t do barbell curls standing on a moving tread mill. Don’t spit in the water fountain. You get the picture…..
I’ll post a list of rules of etiquette in a future article. Some are actually quite entertaining. On some, you’ll scratch your head and wonder why anyone even needs to state that rule. But think about some of the warnings on common household products: “Do not take these suppositories orally”, “Do not use this hairdryer while sleeping”, TV antenna-“Do not attempt to install while drunk, pregnant or both”, baby clothes-“Remove child before washing”.
A misconception regarding the cost of gym membership can also be a deterrent (or excuse).
The old long term non-cancellable contracts sold to a third party finance company (or loan sharks) are a thing of the past. I haven’t seen one of those for many years. The business model has totally changed and competition has increased by leaps and bounds. For many gyms now, membership can be as little as $10/month with a minimal or no sign up fee. In my town there are at least 4 gyms within a five mile radius with monthly fees of $10/month with a sign up fee of $39 or less. And there is often at least one running specials with no sign up fee.
More and more health insurance companies, including Medicare Supplement companies will cover your cost of membership. If the tight fisted insurance companies think getting you more fit is in their best interest, how can argue with the fact that it’s in your best interest!
The best reason to go: Strong people live longer!
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