When you decide to “join a gym,” what kind of place do you imagine? If I had to guess, you’re probably thinking about what fitpros call a big box gym–a huge facility with a lot of machines and varying amenities. But there are so many more places to exercise! Here are a few types to consider:
1. Go Old School
The phenomenon of big box gyms has shifted people’s frame of reference. “Gym” used to mean a place for weightlifting–the masculine, meathead, pumping iron idea of weightlifting. (sidenote: Pumping Iron is a great movie), but now “gym” is shorthand for aerobic-based exercise treadmill farm. These old school lifting gyms still exist, and can be a great place for strength training. CrossFit boxes have a similar aesthetic to lifting gyms. They may not be shiny or have TVs, but they’re great for a sense of community and doing beastly work.
“Studio” is a word that’s typically associated with yoga or pilates, but fitness studios can exist for lots of different activities. There are circus arts studios, pole dancing studios, spinning studios, and HIIT/boot camp studios. Basically, these are places that focus on a specific kind of exercise modality. They tend to be higher in cost due to their boutique nature, but the level of individual attention that comes with small class sizes can’t be beat.
3. A Family Affair
Fitness clubs, activity centers, and community centers offer a wider range of heath and wellness programs. Non-profits like the YMCA or YWCA offer memberships that, depending on your area, can offer gym facilities, group fitness classes, sport programs, and wellness programming (like health screenings and habit groups) for different age groups. These centers can also be more affordable through a sliding scale or a la carte pricing structure.
Do you even gym, bro?
Keep in mind that joining a gym is not a prerequisite for living a fit life. There are lots of options for at-home workouts, joining programs with your park district, or getting involved with activities through your local stores that cater to exercise. For example, your local bike shop or running store might host weekly meet-ups.
Finally, there’s nothing wrong with joining a big box gym, but remember that you have other options if you feel like it’s not a good match for you. If you’re in a location where you don’t have much of an option when it comes to fitness facilities, finding a trainer who works remotely may be helpful. You can also check out the web series What Do I Do at the Gym? for ideas on how to make gym equipment less intimidating.