I know it’s the middle of January, but, Happy New Year, my sister, I know that 2020 is going to be a fantastic year for us, as we grow spiritually, heal emotionally, and get physically fit.  Like millions of midlife women across the land, you have probably decided that it is time for you to revisit the idea of regular exercise.  I don’t have to tell you the benefits of regular exercise especially for women over 40, but my momma/coaching instincts are kicking in, and I want to make sure that you understand that putting in the physical work now could save you from not just weight gain but brittle bones, compromised immune systems, loss of energy, Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.

But, how do you find a gym that you will love enough to use three times per week after the excitement of the New Year has subsided.  You know, there are so many weight loss programs, new and exciting exercise equipment like the Peloton bike, but the hard truth is that as a country we are more out of shape today than any time in our history.

My own quest for the perfect gym in 2019 had me feeling like Goldilocks.  The first gym was close to home but didn’t have the classes I loved or a pool.  The second gym had classes and a pool, but the yoga classes were more like physical fitness classes instead of the quiet meditative qualities I love in yoga, plus I wanted a gym that offered more fun networking events.  That led me to my third gym, it had the classes I love, a pool, and fun networking events.  But again, the yoga classes felt like I was in a middle school gym class.  So, you guessed it, I joined a yoga studio.   By the end of 2019, I had four fitness memberships.  Thankfully, they have all ended.  But I want to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes.

Here five tips that will help you find a gym that you will love or at least one that you will visit as much in July as you will in January:

  1. First, pick a gym that is close to home.  That way, whether you rock your workout at 5 a.m. or 5 p.m.  You will not have to drive more than 15-20 minutes out of your way to workout.  So, check out the gyms in your local area. Make sure that it has ample parking, and ample lighting, if you are going before the sun, comes out.  You don’t want to give yourself any reasons for not actually parking your car and walking into the building.
  2. Check your budget:  It’s always exciting to start something new, even a new workout routine, the pull of getting our bodies ready for the beach are undeniable.  But, make sure that the monthly fees fit in your household budget.  Read the contract and check for additional cancellation fees.  Nothing puts a damper in your motivation to workout than worrying about how you are going to pay the monthly fees.  Also, if your gyms fees are being automatically withdrawn, check your bank statement to make sure that you are only being charged the amount on your contract.
  3. Pick a gym that has activities you love:   If you just want to work out on the treadmill, the bike, or elliptical and lift weights, a gym like Planet Fitness could be all that you need.   I enjoyed my membership at Planet Fitness, they have enough machines and weight equipment that even during peak times you could probably get in an out within an hour.  But I also needed my weekly yoga fix, so I then had to join a yoga studio.  My advice is to look for a gym that has everything you need for a complete fitness routine.   If you enjoy aerobics or yoga classes, then look for a gym that has a regular line up of those classes.  Visit a couple of classes to get a feel for the instructor, and then choose the class you love, make a commitment to yourself to attend that class every week.  Put it on your schedule, lock it in, make it a non-negotiable use of your time.
  4. Partner with an accountability partner: most gyms have personal trainers who will help you to get back into the groove after a long fitness hiatus, but they will also act as your accountability partner, helping you get the most out of your visit each week.  Some personal trainers will even give you a call if you miss a week.  You can also grab a friend and pinkie swear to help keep each other motivated and engaged throughout the year. 
  5. Check out the culture: Every gym, like every workplace, has its own culture.  Find one that is right for you.  To do so, ask yourself the following questions, do you want a gym where you can work out and attend social activities?  Do you want a gym that is oriented more towards accommodating the needs of families? Do you want that is oriented more towards adults and children persona non grata?  

The bottom line is that you need to find a gym that is close to home, affordable, has the equipment and classes you need for a complete fitness routine.  You will need an accountability partner to help keep you going to the gym when your motivation starts to disappear, and you want to make sure that the culture of the gym is one that fits your personality and your needs at this time in your life.

There are 168 hours in a week.  We owe it to ourselves to take 150 minutes a week to get our minds and bodies in tip-top shape.  Let’s face it, you may not always enjoy working out, but exercising regularly will help you enjoy your life and increase your gratitude level.   I promise!

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