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Where do you “fit” in?
Exercise is important for all of us, but where is the best place for YOU to exercise? The trials and tribulations of investing in and using a gym membership, for most of us, is nothing new. The good news is that the health and fitness industry has changed a lot in recent years and there is now a myriad of options available, from Big Box Gyms to Cross Fit to Pilates and everything in between. Finding the right fit for you can be confusing and challenging… Big Box Gyms, Group Fitness, Personal Trainers, even Home Gyms all have their own pros and cons.

Why choose a Big Box Gym?
Your local Big Box Gym has a lot of advantages; they are usually open long hours (if not 24 hours) and are an affordable option, as long as you are willing to sign a lengthy contract. Large fitness facilities have a wide variety of equipment that is maintained and replaced on a regular basis, ensuring that you will always have the best equipment. Better yet most gyms now offer fitness classes like Spin or Yoga, so you get a lot of variety with the convenience of one membership in one location. Some clubs even offer amenities like pools, tennis courts, and smoothie bars; and for those that have small children, some even have child minding services.

Unfortunately Big Box Gyms are not suitable for every one; for beginners and women it’s easy to be intimidated by the equipment or by other more experienced gym members. While a big facility may feel safe, it’s still relatively easy to make training mistakes (even with machines) or get injured because there is not enough trained staff to keep a watchful eye on everyone at all times. At a Big Box Gym your success largely comes down to your motivation and knowledge.

Should I try Group Fitness?
Group Fitness covers a wide range of disciplines that can include Cross Fit as well as other formats like Yoga, Spin, Boot Camp, Pilates, and Barre to name a few. Classes are offered throughout the day or week, so you will have to schedule yourself accordingly; although, scheduling a workout is a great motivator. Those that attend Group Fitness classes often share similar values and goals and people who exercise in a group setting are more likely to continue to show up. Most group classes also have a lot of variety usually changing weekly or even daily.

For all the reasons that make Group Fitness great, they can also be its shortcoming. While a group setting is often motivating and supportive; it can be easy to get lost in a crowd, exercise unsafely, or push yourself too hard. Of course, if your schedule doesn’t line up with the class schedule it will be difficult to be consistent, which is necessary for your success.

How about working out at home?
Maybe you don’t have time to get to the gym or don’t want to exercise in front of others; well, you can still exercise at home! This doesn’t mean you need a big expensive home gym or lots of equipment, it may not even mean that you’re actually exercising in your home. Getting outside for a run, playing a game of pick-up basketball, or going for a swim in the lake are just some of the ways you can stay active and healthy. Of course, you can also workout in the comfort of your home as well. Yoga, High Intensity Interval Training, Body Weight Workouts, are all popular group classes that can be done at home too… You’re limited only by your creativity.

Working at home sounds like a pretty good idea; it can be inexpensive and is on demand. The trouble is that it’s also really easy to make excuses, so self-motivation has to be incredibly high. Similar to a Big Box Gym; exercising at home can also be risky especially if you work out alone.

What about a Personal Trainer?
If you have specific goals, need individual attention, or want more accountability you may want to consider a Personal Trainer. Personal Trainers are the more expensive option compared to a gym membership or group classes but remember, you get what you pay for! One to one training allows you to fully customize your workouts, insuring that you are exercising safely and effectively, helping you to reach your goals. Those that use Trainers are often the most consistent and successful since you have someone watching your every move.

The drawback to using a Personal Trainer often comes down to the expensive price tag or the availability of a trainer. A cost cutting tactic is to have a Personal Trainer develop a program for you to follow and check in once a month for a new workout plan. If you are going to employ a Personal Trainer it is imperative to find one that understands your needs and works with you to reach your goals… There is nothing worse than hiring a trainer who is can’t cater to your needs.

Can I still exercise if I’m injured or if I don’t move well?
Injuries and other limitations, whether it is physical or mental, can be a convenient scapegoat when it comes to avoiding exercise. In most cases there are ways to work around/rehabilitate an injury, or instill confidence in order to get people moving better. Big Box Gyms and Group Fitness Classes cater well to apparently healthy clients but are not so suitable for those that have limitations. Personal trainers are more adept at changing a program to suit a persons needs but they still may not have the knowledge or training to adapt to specific limitations. Kinesiologists are health professionals specializing in human movement. They have more schooling and training and are trained to help those that have limitations or feel they are unable to exercise and will ensure that exercise is gradual, safe, and effective. If you are injured or really need help, consider a Kinesiologist to help you reach your goals.

In order to succeed… your unique needs and goals, must match what is provided.

Paul Bradshaw l Kinesiologist