I cannot recommend anything more than I recommend that everyone incorporates exercise into their weekly routine but not everyone enjoys going to the gym.
Exercise is not only great for the body but provides huge benefits to your brain functionality and your mood that you will absolutely feel after every session.
There are many different options other than going to the gym. However, a lot of people have a mind-block towards exercise because they haven’t thought of the alternatives out there.
Exercise should not be something that you dread each time it comes up on your schedule. You need to find the routine that excites you and inspires you to continue with it.
I would hate for anyone to be discouraged by all fitness because of a bad experience with one approach. I have tried them all and you should too until one clicks just right with you.
This is completely your own personal preference. I will layout the benefits of each, and give you my own opinion. If you are unsure, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try out a good selection until you find the most suitable option.
Commercial Gym Membership
Years ago I had a regular gym membership and I made use of it at least 4 times per week. This was a time in my life when I was in my best shape because I got into a great routine. It paid off.
The gym was a 15 minute walk or 5 minute drive from my apartment. The membership was inexpensive and offered a free session with a trainer upon joining to get to know the space.
If you are a complete fitness beginner a public gym can be highly intimidating, especially as a woman. You don’t want to do the wrong thing and be featured on one of those ‘gym fails’ videos.
If you are afraid of attracting unwanted attention put your earphones in and ignore the eyes around you. After a few sessions you will start to feel comfortable in this unfamiliar environment.
I want to make it my personal mission to debunk the myth that the ‘women’s area’ in a gym is restricted to cardio equipment, stretching mats and maybe some weight machines for ‘toning’. If you still believe this then you are missing out on the real assets that a gym has to offer!
Weight Lifting for Women
You haven’t lived until you’ve worked out with free weights. Yes, I’m talking about that area you have blocked out in your mind where you hear all the bodybuilders grunting. And no, you will not begin to look like them if you step into that area!
Men and women have completely different hormonal systems which alter the effect that exercising has on muscle growth. It is very difficult for women to produce huge bulging muscles without the use of a testosterone supplement. But this doesn’t mean you have to settle for being weak.
Before you disregard it immediately, I encourage you to step in and give it a try! When I discovered this way of exercising it did wanders to my self-image. It made me feel strong for the first time in my life while sculpting my natural body shape.
If you have the courage but don’t know where to start, sign-up for my Free 8-week Beginner’s Training Program.
Once you have given it a try, you will have an insightful opinion from your own experience. If working out on your own is truly not your thing, the next option to try is group classes.
There are usually a variety of classes available in a commercialized gym. You will find variations of the following:
- Abs attack
- Fat burner
- Body sculpture
In my own biased but experienced opinion, I would first go for a class that uses some sort of resistance in the exercises, such as weights or resistance bands. This is the best method I have found for releasing endorphins, toning your body and building lean strength.
If you really aren’t into that, try all of them and see if another class works better for your body. Steer away from doing yoga at a commercialized gym. These instructors are often not as experienced as yoga teachers in a yoga centre. They may just fill in for any class on the schedule.
With yoga, rather go for a specialized yoga studio that will give you individualized attention in the class so that your body reaps all the benefits.
Benefits of a Gym Contract
- Having a gym membership gives you access to a wide selection of strength training and cardio equipment that would be very costly if you were to purchase yourself.
- Having a clear-cut location to go to for exercising compartmentalizes it in your brain. This makes it easier for your mind to adjust from work, to exercise, to leisure.
- Gyms often have really cool bonus facilities such as a steam room or sauna which are great for detoxing.
- You can hire a personal trainer if you want individualized attention (great for beginners or people who need someone to hold them accountable). This means you will have a custom exercise routine designed for you and they can track your progression. This also provides a barrier if you are scared of unwanted attention by other gym-goers.
- Gyms that offer fitness classes hold you accountable because you usually have to sign up for the class ahead of time which means you are more likely to attend it. They also offer a variety if you are inclined to get bored when doing the same routine over and over again. It’s great for your body to switch things up.
When I moved to my current home it was further away from the gym and became more difficult to continue with my routine.
I noticed that it was no longer serving me as it had in the past. I decided to give up my membership and build a gym at home (I now had a bigger apartment). The idea was to walk into the next room to workout, wearing my pajamas if I wanted to.
I invested in the following few key pieces of equipment that made it possible to do most of the exercises that I was used to doing in the gym:
- Foam floor mats (My wooden floors are slippery and terrible for exercising on!)
- Skipping rope
- A stability ball
- 50kg (110 lbs) barbell/dumbbell weight kit
- Resistance band set
Concerns to Consider
This equipment has given me 3 years of training at home but my discipline has been challenged over this time. I have found it more distracting at home because I do so many other things in this space as well.
I also learned the cons of the equipment I chose and felt I lacked some of the contraptions that were provided by the gym.
My weight set covered a wide range of weights but changing the weights was not a quick task. It caused frustrating delays in my workout routine.
The stability ball is a dynamic piece of equipment. I used it as a substitute for a bench, to do chest presses and such as you can get the right range of motion that your elbows need that the floor inhibits you from. But I still missed the ease of an adjustable bench.
The benches at the gym also come with weight racks which make it much safer to lift heavier weights. I missed having a squat rack. I could never squat heavy weights at home without one.
If I were to ever build a home gym again I would do it differently. It would be worth it to invest in an adjustable bench and a power rack for safer lifting. I would also choose a weight set that was easier to add or subtract weight from such as the PowerBlock. The less fuss and clumsiness with the equipment, the more likely you are to workout regularly and enjoy it.
The Simplest Home Gym
If you have very limited space and no inclination or funds to buy fancy (but awesome) equipment, you can solve this very easily with a resistance band set. I bought one that has cables ranging from 4-50lbs (1.8-50kg), has handles that make it easy to grip as well as ankle straps and a door wedge.
This simple set of cables and bands gives you the same ability and resistance as a bulky weight set but you can store them in a small drawer or carry them in a backpack like I do when I train clients on the promenade overlooking the ocean. There is really so much you can do with them! I highly recommend this to someone who wants to get started at home.
Benefits of a Home Gym
If you have a gym contract that you haven’t used in months, either start using it IMMEDIATELY or cancel it immediately. Here’s a little secret: Gyms make most of their money off people who sign up and never use the facilities. That’s wasted money on your part every month. Don’t be one of those fools in denial.
- There is no travel time if you workout at home. You will save time in your morning routine.
- You avoid traffic and parking fees.
- No need to pack a bag.
- You can workout without worrying about your appearance.
- There won’t be any creepy onlookers.
- Don’t have to adhere to certain operating hours.
- You don’t need someone to watch the kids while you workout.
A few months ago I resigned from my job to focus on personal training and this blog. In changing to working from home, I realized I would need to find more things to do away from home so that I’m not cooped up all the time.
This is when I made the decision to join a gym again, but a different kind this time. This remarkable playground is a 7 minute walk down the road. It’s a small, private club and they offer different memberships, ranging from yearly, to monthly and even daily.
Knowing I would be doing a fair amount of traveling away from home, I didn’t want to pay for the months that it would not be in use. So I pay on a month-to-month or weekly basis, depending on when I’m in town.
Small gyms have more exclusivity whilst still providing all the equipment necessary for a blood-pumping workout.
Another example with a similar appeal would be a specialized yoga or pilates studio, with different styles and levels of experience, where you can get the most individualized attention to improve your technique.
Just type ‘yoga near me’ into Google and you will find the closest studio to where you are right now.
Yoga is something that will add a lot to your life. I find in beneficial in between strengths training sessions. It is a different way of stretching and strengthening your muscles and is the most beneficial in becoming more supple.
Benefits of a Specialized Gym
- More exclusivity
- Less busy and less waiting time for equipment
- Individualized attention in classes
- Flexible membership options
- Homely feel when you workout
- Instructors are more specialized in what they teach
Exercise is not about striving to look like a girl on the magazine cover. Exercise has so many other benefits that boost your self-esteem and the way you are able to function every day. I endorse exercise because it eases your ability to cope with daily activities, boosts your happiness and gets your brain working at a higher level.
Exercise is not about weight loss, although that can be a side effect. Weight loss starts with your eating habits, not peddling for hours at the gym.
If you have suffered an injury or have other health matters that make you nervous about exercising, there are options for you as well.
To avoid harming yourself further, it is best to work with a one-on-one trainer who can push your body to recovery without harming it further.
A physiotherapist is recommended after any injury that holds you back from physical activity. A therapist will know what you body can take and what you should stay away from in the beginning.
Aquatic therapy takes the strain off of your joints and bones and can elevate pain from injury and help with flexibility. This can be highly beneficial for elderly or severely overweight individuals who worry about putting strain on their bodies with impact exercise.
Working with a yoga or pilates instructor on an individual level can also be greatly beneficial as they will have a lot of experience with how to get the body to recovery.
Take Action Now
Now that I have laid it all out there, whichever form of exercise catches your attention most, take action to include that into your weekly routine. Start with twice a week if you feel you are very busy. Increase it to at least three sessions per week when you can.
Soon you will be glowing, having received all the benefits in getting into an active lifestyle and it will become a part of your routine the you are not willing to compromise on.
Comment with any questions you may still have. I’m happy to help anyone get into training!