Don’t Try Any of My Fitness Programs Until You Read This… We Might Not Be Right For You
I am going to write this from the perspective of Madison, WI, but you could be reading this from most places in 1st world countries and it will apply to you as well.
It is quite the paradox we are living in… we are sicker and unhealthier then ever before, yet have more amazing options to gyms, weight loss programs, and so on.
How can this be?
The major problem, which I am not going to focus on in this article, is that everything in our society is encouraging us to be lazy and eat quick, processed food. Our lives are designed for comfort and convenience… this is our biggest challenge.
But what if someone wants to truly change? What program is best suited for them? If you had asked me this 5 years ago, I would have selfishly said “MINE!” It wouldn’t have mattered who the person was or their goals, strengths, and weaknesses.
But as I have gotten older, and hopefully a touch wiser, I know that in many cases my programs might not be the best for you.
I am going to try to make this as simple as I can and make some generalizations about the various options you have to choose from regarding your fitness. I am going to try to make this as unbiased as I can, realizing that I am too close to the industry to make it 100% unbiased so please keep that in mind as you are reading this.
Here are 4 major options that you can choose from.
1. Bare bones gym: This is a small, no frills gym, many times open 24 hours. Has all the weights and cardio machines you will ever need.
Examples in Madison: 24 Hour Fitness, Snap Fitness, Anything Fitness, Planet Fitness
Price: This is the cheapest option ranging from $15-$40/month
Pros: Extremely affordable and convenient. Many locations and usually open all hours of the day. Nice equipment.
Cons: Can be very crowded during peak times because they need to over-sell memberships to stay in business, no accountability (these gyms need to have a large % of people to never show up in order to survive), no nutritional guidance, and no support.
Who this is perfect for: someone who knows how to put together safe and effective workout programs, and who is self-motivated, one who already has a great understanding of nutrition and just needs a place to work out. I would say that I fit this definition as long as I brought in a workout partner to help me stay motivated. I can work with anything and come up with fun, challenging workouts on my own, but still need the push from a friend.
2. Traditional gym: this is generally quite a bit bigger, with 2,000 up to 30,0000 members. There is front desk staff, it will include specialty classes, a pool, sauna, hot tub, and lots of weight and cardio machines.
Examples in Madison: Supreme Health and Fitness, Princeton Club, Prairie Athletic, Harbor, Pinnacle, Gold’s
Pros: They offer a lot of bells and whistles and amenities for the price, usually have child care, lots of available times, and different classes. There is also great variety of equipment and instructors to fit a wide range of interests.
Cons: Many of the classes, child care, and services are add-ons so you have to pay extra for those. The front desk staff might know your name so it is a little more personable, but still no accountability for you to show up. Similarly to #1, if these gyms had 100% show up rate 3X per week, they would not have the space or equipment to handle them all. No nutritional guidance.
Who is this perfect for: this is great for families or individuals who like to exercise, might not be experts at it, but like variety and options. They can join classes and learn the choreographed routines and maybe meet some people in the process. This is great for someone who is outgoing and can strike up a conversation with anyone. Since there is people there working out at the same time each day, you could find a workout partner. You already know what to eat and have an idea of what types of workouts you should be putting together to avoid injuries and overuse. This is also nice for those who like to relax before and after workouts, because there are plenty of places to hang out and read, sit in the sauna, and relax. Can be a great place to call their third home.
3. Specialty programs and small group training facilities: these charge more, but provide many more individualized programs. There are less members overall, but more emphasis on each individual.
Examples in Madison: Fit Fun Bootcamps, MamaTone Fitness, Killer Kurves, CrossFit, Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping, Hybrid, Orange Shoe, Fit Club, Monkey Bar, Pat’s Gym, Melt Studio,
Pros: There is a high level of accountability and support and different workouts each time. If you aren’t showing up, they will notice. Behavior change is focused along with the workouts. Nutrition is talked about a lot and meal plans and education is a main focus. Workouts are usually challenging, results can be dramatic, friendships are made very easily, and you get the advice of personal trainers without having to pay their fees. Proper form and breathing are emphasized.
Cons: it is a larger financial investment, limited hours available, hard workouts that can potentially lead to injuries, waste of money if you aren’t using it, can be hard to do if you have lots of joint issues, not many extra physical amenities to use besides the workouts, the education, and the support and camaraderie.
Who is this perfect for: a person who is wanting a place to belong and call home, where they are encouraged to meet others who are looking to improve their bodies and lives. It is for a person who might be looking for a life change and doesn’t know what to do or where to turn, a person who lacks a healthy supportive environment around them. On the other side, it is also great for former athletes who are use to coaches and players to train with, the camaraderie with these types of programs are similar to that of sports teams. These are also great for people who don’t want to think about putting together their own workouts or deciding what foods they should be eating, rather they would prefer a plan that is set out for them. Lastly this is a great option for someone who is looking to not just show up and leave, but someone who is looking to invest in their fellow peers, and to join in on the community activities and be part of a tight knit group.
4. Personal trainers: They are one on one with a certified trainer who will work with your individual needs and create a program that is specific to that person.
Examples in Madison: Most of the gyms have this as an option and many will push it very hard to newcomers (Supreme Health and Fitness is one exception). There are many independent trainers who rent space out of gyms, or visit people’s homes.
Price: $520-$910/month coming 3X per week or $40-$70/session
Pros: Extremely customizable, can work around injuries, proper form focused on, high accountability, focus on nutrition and overall well-being. Workouts can be always changing.
Cons: Price is too high for many to consistently work with a trainer, there isn’t much camaraderie with their peers, there is a huge variety in skill levels of trainers, so pick wisely.
Who this is perfect for: Someone who has $500 plus dollars of disposable income and who doesn’t like to work out in groups or one who isn’t comfortable with how to perform exercise or proper form or nutrition and wants someone to explain things each step of the way. A person who wants to get pushed and challenged and open to trying new things would also be good for this program. Another example would be someone who values the consistency of having that one person they can trust and count on to be there for them when they fall off the wagon or go through challenges. Also a person who has lots of injuries or unique physical challenges that require significant modification would benefit greatly from a personal trainer.
I started as a personal trainer exclusively and most of my amazing team of trainers are also personal trainers. I love personal training and what it has to offer. Some people just love to train one on one, but I have found that groups bring out the healthy competition in each person and elevate the adherence to the program by seeing their peers get in shape.
I realize I have left out studios that specialize in yoga, pilates, or nutrition programs like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, but this is already quite long.
As you can see, we do not lack options, rather we might lack clarity of what option is the best one for you. Over the past 10 years I have tried to expand my programming to reach different types of people. That is why I now have Fit Fun Bootcamps, MamaTone, Killer Kurves,Fitness 4 Kids, and the Fit Moms For Life DVDs.
When someone asks me what my ideal client looks like I list the following. If you feel like you meet most of these criteria my team and myself would be honored to work with you.
-Willing to take responsibility for where they are
-Willing to work hard
-Maintain a positive and supportive attitude towards themselves and fellow participants
-Desire to invest in the program and help build and maintain the community/family feel
-Doesn’t have too many severe joint issues
-Understands that investing in themselves (time and money) is something that is worth doing
-Is 100% committed to achieving results and willing to try new things
-Is completely ready to have their life and body transformed to levels that they have never seen
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