I’ve never been a fan of gyms and given the choice I’d rather work out at home with my own weights and equipment. However working out in a crowded space filled with all types of exercisers affords one an excellent opportunity for people watching. Unfortunately the Fitness Trainer in me can’t help but look at some people with a critical eye. I am mystified by some of the behavior I see around me come workout time. Some people seem to wonder around the gym aimlessly with no goal in mind. Others are obviously just there to strut and show off, and some appear slightly scared and intimidated by the whole experience. It’s a personal trainer’s dream come true.
In an ideal world everyone would have their own coach accompanying them to the gym everyday to watch their form, consult on programs, and track their progress. Unfortunately most gyms use their trainers as salesman rather than coaches. Most are paid so little and over burdened with other duties around the gym that they rush to get clients through workouts so they can get on to the next one and on and on. Private trainers if you can find them may cost upwards of $60 dollars an hour. It has become my personal mission to address these issues and it seems I have come to the right place to begin my crusade.
If you can’t turn to a trainer to optimize your program there’s no reason why you can’t benefit from a trainer’s wisdom. I advise everyone to hire a trainer if possible, at least for a short time to learn the details of successful program building. In the meantime though allow me to share a few tips to streamline your workouts and help guarantee results and success from your workout plan.
Lesson number one; working out isn’t a hobby, its work. You need to step into the gym with a plan each and every time you go there. Before I ever step foot in the facility whether it’s to train a client or myself, I have a plan written down and ready to go. Once inside I stick to that plan and record the weight used, number of sets, and number of reps for each movement or station. How else will you know if you’re progressing if you don’t accurately record your efforts and accomplishments each time? Some workouts though aren’t about counting numbers but observing effort. Plan to go until your muscles fail completely to achieve the best growth. A trainer can help you push to this failure point safely and repeatedly.
Secondly you also need to be flexible inside of your plan. Depending on the size and popularity of your gym it may be impossible to use certain equipment at certain times. You will either need to come at a different time or learn to use other machines or movements that will accomplish the same result for a body part or muscle group. A little time spent doing research on various exercise movements or in purchasing a book like The MensHealth Big Book of Exercises will pay big dividends in a crowded gym. If all else fails resort to body-weight exercises. Not only are these great for developing real world usable strength but performing them in a crowded gym will instantly make you look hardcore to the average person. Trust me it takes a hell of a lot more strength to bust out sets of Pullups versus cheating through Latt Pulldowns!
The Third Lesson and perhaps the most important is ask for help. I have never been to a gym when at least 2-3 knowledgeable athletes weren’t working out. You can recognize these gyms professionals by their intense workouts, lack of walking around and chatting, and serious gaze. They will be all business, time their rest breaks, and often look like they could kill a man with their eyes alone. Don’t be intimidated though these guys and gals aren’t jerks they’re just focused. If you need help or advice wait until they finish a set, apologize for interrupting, and ask them. Most are friendly enough and more than willing to help and can instruct you in proper form, technique, and use of weights and machines. Avoid at all costs the guy with the puffed out chest strolling the floor freely offering advice to anyone and everyone whether they want it or not. He is most likely just there for mental masturbation and outside of his own routine has little real knowledge about fitness and health. I have found that experienced female exercisers are easier to approach for the novice and more willing to lend advice and assistance.
I am working at making Personal Training more affordable to the masses. Eventually we plan to open our own facility here in Bradenton, FL that offers one-on-one training and nutritional programs for all our clients. It will have a weight room, some cardio machines, floor area, but most importantly reserved areas for personal training. In the meantime if you need help with a routine or planning feel free to email us here at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help you succeed.