choosing a gym

I Don’t Know Where to Start

“I don’t know where to start.”

It can be so overwhelming when we first start a weight loss program. It seems like an overwhelming endeavor–especially if we have a significant amount to lose. The idea of trying to lose over 100 pounds seemed daunting. It doesn’t have to be. You can start by reading this series I wrote about where and how to start: Week OneWeek TwoWeek ThreeWeek FourWeek Five.

Let’s chat about the fitness part. I think tackling the fitness portion is the best way to start. Once you start working out on a regular basis you’ll start to feel better and that will inspire you to keep going. I got addicted to the high exercise gave me. It was such an awesome feeling! After a good session on the elliptical, I’d go home sweaty and tired and most importantly: inspired. I felt powerful and strong, like I could do anything I put my mind to. Once fitness is a big part of your life, your body will crave the activities. The other cool thing about exercise: working out makes you crave better food.

Ask yourself two questions: Do you need classes to stay on track/stay motivated? Do you prefer to do your own thing?

GETTING HELP TO STAY MOTIVATED

If you responded yes to needing classes to stay motivated, continue reading here.

I’m slowly growing to like taking classes more. I hated them. I was uncoordinated, I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the class and felt frustrated whenever I tried. I gave up. Finding a spin class I really liked changed the way I thought about it. The trick is that you have to find the class that works for YOU. If Zumba isn’t quite your thing, try Body Pump or Water Aerobics. There has to be something that you can do with skill, you just have to try all the classes to find which one works for you.

Give all the classes a try before you give up. Sometimes it will take a few sessions to really discover what you like and dislike. Keep going. Add the classes to your calender and go to them. Sign up for several classes a week and rotate through several of them to keep things fresh. For example, do yoga Mon/Wed, Body Pump Tues/Thur and water aerobics on Saturdays.

Choose the right gym. The gym is a very personal thing. Find the one that works for you. Make a list of “Must Haves” and really take your time making a decision. Gym memberships are often costly. Take the time to decide which one you’re going to use.

Choose the right Personal Trainer. You should have a connection with your trainer and feel safe with them, feel confident in the training plan. I had the best trainer ever! He was encouraging, positive, listened to what my goals were and made the sessions fun. If you aren’t having fun or if the trainer is playing with their phone the entire session, find a new one.  They work for you!

Ask a friend to join a gym with you. Or join the gym/classes your friends take so you have a partner to go with. Doing it that way can be fun and motivating.

DOING YOUR OWN THING

If you answered yes to preferring to go solo, continue reading here. You’re in luck! There are a million ways to lose weight and stay fit without paying for a personal trainer or taking classes.

I’m much more inclined to workout by myself. I like the “me time” and doing things at my own pace. I usually start out with some cardio to warm up. These days that’s the elliptical. In nicer weather I like doing bike rides or running outside. After the cardio I spend at least 30 minutes doing a weight circuit. I mix it up with machines, free weights and simple body weight exercises (like lunges and squats).

To get ideas for weight lifting routines I use one iPhone app that I absolutely LOVE. It’s the Nike Training Club App. It’s FREE and totally amazing. It was also rated the #1 free app! You can learn knew and fun exercises to do with and without weights. There are so many different exercises that you’ll never get bored with it. I use this app at home AND at the gym!

You don’t need a gym membership to get fit. There are a lot of ways to lose weight working out at home. There are DVDs you can get on Netflix to change your routine each time, you can do full body exercises, hook up your bike to a trainer and do your own Spin class!

Try free weights at home. You don’t need a fancy gym or a trainer to workout. Spend $50 on a few free weights of varying amounts and begin a weight routine in your living room.

Read this awesome lady’s blog. Suzanne is an excellent resource and a huge advocate of weight lifting. One of the things I regret in my weight loss journey was not lifting weights from the start. My weight loss would have been faster had I done that.

In conclusion, whatever route you end up taking in 2012 there is a way to make it work for you. Spend the time to improve yourself and enjoy the results you see!

QUESTION: Do you have any other tips or tricks?

Boot Camp Disappointment

I almost didn’t buy the Groupon. I felt dirty. I felt like I was cheating on my friend Christian. But in the end it came down to one simple fact: I was gym free at the time. I needed to workout. Period. Christian’s crossfit gym is fantastic and he’s the best personal trainer I’ve ever worked with.  The only reason I haven’t joined his gym is the location. It’s out by the airport, which is as far away from my house as possible. I know myself. I know that if my gym isn’t close to home, I won’t go.

Since I was going gym-free for an unknown amount of time, I’d been paying extra attention to the Groupon/Living Social deals that relate to fitness. When I saw this amazing deal come through, I had to buy it:  Voucher for One Month of Unlimited Boot Camp Classes from Fulcrum Fitness for $20! Unlimited access to their boot camp classes? Close to home? Only $20? Sign me up!

Well I never got around to using the Groupon because I ended up getting a gym membership. I  kept intending to use it and was busy traveling or with the holidays. The deal was about to expire so I decided to use it. Even if it’s only once or twice a week for the next month it will be something different to change up my routine.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a positive review.

First, the website is a nightmare. Links were broken, it was hard to navigate, the scheduling didn’t work right and I was growing so frustrated with the difficulty in navigation I almost gave up. I wondered how that would go over with someone who could be easily dissuaded from starting a workout plan?

The second–and bigger–issue was the schedule. The gym in Sellwood was closed on the weekends. That definitely does not work for my schedule and I felt frustrated with the fact that I was limited in when I could take their bootcamps as a result. Another issue: everyone is required to take a 30 minute orientation class before being able to sign up. I get that but they were scheduled at bizarre times! I’d have to take time off work in order to go to an orientation class in the middle of the day?!?!

Third, the customer service was atrocious. It was impossible to get a hold of anyone. They even state on their voicemail that they don’t get back to people who leave messages and email was better. Okay….email it was. Except they took days to respond to email as well.

I expressed my frustration about the orientation requirement and that I was not going to take time off work for it and they did work with me. I went in for a quickie 20 minute meeting on my way home from work. The requirement met, I tried to sign up for my first boot camp class a week later. A week later! Plenty of time for them to enter my info into their system.

I couldn’t log in to sign up. <Bang head on wall> Several emails later I finally got signed up for my first class. I was ready to go there with an open mind, despite the annoyances I experienced. I really wanted to use my deal and try the Boot Camp.

The night before my first class I got an email that it was canceled because I was the only person that signed up. What?! You’ve got to be kidding me. I was fed up and done trying. I contacted Living Social and they happily refunded my money.

I went onto Yelp and unfortunately I was not alone in my experience. It seemed that the majority of people had negative experiences at Fulcrum. I was kicking myself for not researching this place better before I made my purchase.

We’re getting to that time of year that people want to sign up for gyms, boot camps, etc. Protect yourself and save yourself the headache I had. My advice:

  1. Do your research. Google the gym/boot camp to read reviews. Check Yelp.
  2. Check their websites FAQs. I didn’t do that and I should have. The FAQs will often have the “fine print” that the deal won’t spell out otherwise.
  3. Check the website schedule.
  4. Call and see how difficult it is to get someone on the phone. Ask your questions–find out if they cancel classes frequently.
  5. Ask your friends for a recommendation instead of going in blindly.

I learned my lesson with this negative experience. I hope no one else goes through what I did. Fitness shouldn’t be this hard, this frustrating or this negative. A good gym is welcoming, easy to use and works with YOUR schedule. Good luck!

QUESTION: Have you experienced something like this? What did you do to fix it?