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”.