The Perks of Belonging to a Small Gym

It is impossible to nail down one definition of “fitness”. What ‘fitness’ means to one person may not be appropriate to another. It’s about mind-set, relevance and particularly in today’s fast-paced society – about convenience. With goals and aspirations broad and far-reaching, and an industry awash with training techniques, theoretical thinking and daily innovation, it isn’t surprising that we each, as individuals, seek different things from the facilities in which we work out.

Today, gyms come in all shapes and sizes, from big “box” gyms seemingly present in every town, to smaller professional training studios occupying any location that lends itself well to compact training under the watchful eye of a dedicated personal trainer (or in the case of Game Shape, a doctor of physical therapy).

How should you choose between the big box gyms and the small fitness studios? Well, there are 3 places in your daily like that should make you feel good. The people you are around and surroundings should be a place of comfort, peace and harmony. Can you guess what they are?

Answer: Your Home, Your Work, and Your Gym! Well as we all know, the first two can be questionable for peace and harmony. But the third, Your Gym, must be your sanctuary, the place where you are welcomed and comforted, and involves “regulars”. Like the old TV series “Cheers”, it should be a place where everyone knows your name. And, a healthy alternative to a bar!

The gym environment that you choose will have enormous influence on your life, on the implementation of new habits and in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Many find larger facilities intimidating or overwhelming, with the range of equipment simply bewildering. Working out instead in a smaller setting, using less equipment more effectively and following instruction from a focused professional able to impart relevant advice specific to the exerciser’s needs, is an increasingly popular way to train.

While there are exceptions to every rule, many small gyms offer a better sense of community than the large gym chains. This is in part due to the smaller membership population, a targeted focus on a true niche (for example, body weight exercises or circuit training) and a larger focus on having each member succeed in achieving their goals. Going to the gym is an experience you want to repeat over and over, when you not only love the workouts, but the staff makes you feel like family and fellow gym-goers become your friends who ask after you when you aren’t there.

When people ask me what the best workout program is, my answer is always the same: ”the one you will keep on doing”. And a small gym is well worth finding for these very reasons: Smaller gyms can create a stronger sense of belonging, it can afford you positive relationships with those who hold similar values, and it can decrease your medical bills too!

Small, boutique gyms are the fastest growing part of the gym industry, says Meredith Poppler, spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). According to IHRSA, they make up over 42% of the fitness industry and growing. Ultimately, selecting the right facility to help you achieve your personal fitness goals is all about making informed choices, often based around your circumstances. And with such a wide range of facilities all vying for your attention, those choices can be difficult to make, so do shop around and don’t be afraid to think outside the “box”.

Top 10 Benefits of Physical Therapy

  1. Relief without Medication. Physical Therapy can help you reduce the need for prescription pain or anti-inflammatory medications. A conservative treatment such as physical therapy is not only healthier and more effective, but it is also more cost-effective.
  2. Avoiding Surgery. If physical therapy helps you eliminate pain or heal from an injury, surgery may not be needed. And even if surgery is required, you may benefit from pre-surgery physical therapy. If you are going into a surgery stronger and in better shape, you will recover faster afterwards in many cases. Also, by avoiding surgery, health care costs are reduced.
  3. Improve Your Mobility. If you’re having trouble standing, walking or moving – no matter your age—physical therapy can help. Stretching and strengthening exercises help restore your ability to move. Physical therapists can properly fit individuals with a cane, crutches or any other assistive device, or assess for orthotic prescription. By customizing an individual care plan, whatever activity that is important to an individual’s life can be practiced and adapted to ensure maximal performance and safety.
  4. Put Less Stress on Joints. During Physical Therapy, you can learn how to evenly distribute pressure on the spine, hips, knees and ankle joints.
  5. A Stronger Core. PT focuses on core stability and strengthening to restore pelvis and back muscle health (whole body support).
  6. Pain Relief. Therapeutic exercises and manual therapy techniques such as joint and soft tissue mobilization or treatments such as ultrasound, taping or electrical stimulation can help relieve pain and restore muscle and joint function to reduce pain. Such therapies can also prevent pain from returning.
  7. Improve Your Balance and Prevent Falls. When you begin physical therapy, you will get screened for fall risk. If you’re at high risk for falls, therapists will provide exercises that safely and carefully challenge your balance as a way to mimic real-life situations. Therapists also help you with exercises to improve coordination and assistive devices to help with safer walking. When the balance problem is caused by a problem in one’s vestibular system, Physical therapists can perform specific maneuvers that can quickly restore proper vestibular functioning, and reduce and eliminate symptoms of dizziness or vertigo.
  8. Manage Diabetes and Vascular Conditions. As part of an overall diabetes management plan, exercise can help effectively control blood sugar.  Additionally, people with diabetes may have problems with sensation in their feet and legs. Physical therapists can help provide and educate these patients on proper foot care to prevent further problems down the road.
  9. Recover from or Prevent a Sports Injury. Physical therapists understand how different sports can increase your risk for specific types of injuries (such as stress fractures for distance runners). They can design appropriate recovery or prevention exercise programs for you to ensure a safe return to your sports.
  10. Manage Age-Related Issues. As individuals age, they may develop arthritis or osteoporosis or need a joint replacement. Physical therapists are experts in helping patients recover from joint replacement, and manage arthritic or osteoporotic conditions conservatively.