The New Year is upon us and with that, a commitment by many to exercise regularly. No matter where you live, that may involve joining a gym, but all gyms are not created equal. What you need, besides a convenient location and reasonable price, is a facility that provides you with the equipment you need to accomplish your goals and short-circuits your excuses.
“I don’t know what to do.”
I’m going to challenge conventional thinking in how you solve that problem: once you have clearance from your physician to exercise, ask for a referral to a physical therapist. He or she will work with you to determine the best exercises for your body and your history, especially the more years you have in your body. Broken bones, sprains, strains, injuries, gaining weight, losing weight—we all have a physical history. If you have a problem with the mechanics of your body or reinjure yourself, that will impact your ability to exercise, so begin with a physical therapist if possible.
Paula and I both have done that. Once we worked with our physical therapist to find what exercises to do on which machines or weights or tubes, we selected a gym which had the resistance and aerobic equipment most suited to our needs. I still do the exercises I was shown and I’ve been running for close to a year with no time off for injuries. That’s the longest I haven’t been forced to take time off.
You may even find out you don’t need a gym; walking or running plus exercises you can do at home may be all you need. Your physical therapist will get you headed in the right direction. The downside: if you’re exercising at home you can do it anytime, and that may lead to eternal procrastination. If you’re letting exercise slide day after day, maybe you need a more formal workout setting.
“I just don’t feel comfortable there.”
Think about how your social needs may affect your adherence to your workout plan as well. Paula reads while she bikes and I listen to podcasts on the treadmill so a big gym works for us, but you may need a more social environment with friends to keep you honest and engaged.
“It’s too far.”
Another factor is location. When Paula worked out on the way home from her job, she found that the farther the gym was from work, the less likely she was to get there; it was too easy to run errands on the way and never quite make it to the gym.
“I got hurt and I’m too sore, so I can’t exercise.”
Besides getting input from your physical therapist, here’s the most important advice I can give you: start slow. If you begin by doing too much, you’ll be sore or injured and you’ll be out. Your objective is to keep going—it’s a marathon, not a sprint—so an easy start is your best plan.
It turned out that Planet Fitness works for Paula and me: plenty of resistance equipment and all the aerobic machines we could want at a very reasonable price. I also must add that there are more really overweight people working out at the Planet than anywhere I’ve ever been, which I love to see.
For you, it may be someplace different; maybe you’ll do better with swimming and workout classes at the Y. The important point is to select your gym by what you need and you might find it becomes a lifetime habit.
What are you prepared to do today?