Getting Back to Exercising Part One: Where to Exercise

So far we’ve looked at outlining our goals for the year, whether they were fitness related or not.  We’ve looked at diet plans and if you’re like me, you’ve decided on a diet plan you like and can stick to, and we’ve looked at some fitness plans to get us started for the year.  We’ve also done some initial housekeeping to help set us up for success in our journey to being that happy and healthier person this new year.  Now we need to look at taking the next step and actually start exercising.  To do that in this post, we will look at where to exercise.

At this point, my assumption is that you either have a gym you are a member of, or you may be looking for a gym to join to make this new year even more successful.  Now, let’s be honest here.  To be successful in becoming healthier and happier this year, you absolutely do not need to join a gym.  Yes, you read that right.  You don’t have to be a member of a gym to successfully accomplish your goals of weight loss and better health.  You absolutely will have to exercise though.  So just because I said you don’t have to join a gym doesn’t excuse you from exercising.  The choice of where to exercise is yours to make.  Do you want to exercise in the confines of your home, or neighborhood or local or regional park, or do you want to head over to a local gym and join.  Let’s take a look at the two options.

The first option is to exercise at home.

“What’s wrong with exercising at home?” you might ask, and I’ll tell you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Here are the Pros:

  • It’s relatively inexpensive, or free.  There are no monthly or yearly charges to pay here for working out, no contract to sign.  You either own the property or lease it, but it’s yours
  • You never worry about anyone else watching you and you’ll never be embarrassed when you work out.
  • It never closes and the hours are whatever you set.
  • It’s always available to you.
  • You control the music; you control the TV!
  • If you get tired of being indoors, you can go outside and do something outdoors, like walk, ride a bike or run.

Here are the cons:

  • Unless all of the exercises you plan on doing are simply using your body weight , you will need to pay for the equipment you use and this can get expensive.  From simple resistance bands to a multi-thousand dollar piece of cardio equipment or two, you must own it for you to use.
  • Space.  If your dwelling is too small, then no matter what you do or do it with, you may wind up hitting something, or damaging the environment around you or even injure yourself.
  • No one to help you if you get hurt, or need to ask a question or show you how to do a specific something.
  • Too easy to be distracted by the phone, the doorbell, work, or <insert your favorite distraction here>!
  • Ever try exercising at home with a pet?  If you own one, you’ll understand!

As we can see there are some trade-offs and these are by no means the exhausted list of pros and cons for working out at home.  Now the other option we’ll consider is joining a gym and its pros and cons.

Joining a gym.


  • The equipment is provided for you.
  • You should have the staff there to answer questions.
  • If you want, you can hire a professional trainer.
  • People watching CAN motivate you!  Trust me on this one.  Watching someone killing it on a particular exercise or piece of equipment can, will and should motivate you to be just as good!
  • Locker rooms you don’t have to clean.

Some Cons:

  • Contracts and Price.  Let’s be honest here.  People are employed at the gym to do a few things and sale contracts to you as well as up-sell additional services you may or may not need are two of their duties.  It’s your duty to read any contract thoroughly, take your time and make an informed decision.  If the sales person pressures you, then leave.  A good sales person at a gym, if he or she wants a sell, will wait.
  • Distance to your home.  How close is it?  Is it worth the drive/bike/walk to it?
  • Location.  Is it in a good neighborhood?  Is it safe?
  • Hours.  Do the hours work for you?

Matter of fact, let’s take those cons and make them into what you should consider when looking for and joining a gym.

  1.  How much does it cost?
  2.  Is there any additional cost besides the monthly (or in some cases, bi-weekly) payments?  Do they have an initiation fee?  Is there a cancellation fee?  What about other fees?
  3.  Is there a contract that you will be locked into, or are you month to month?  Again, what are the opt-outs for you, should you need to cancel for a legitimate reason?
  4.  What are the hours?  Limited?  24 hours?
  5.  How busy does it get at this location?  What are the peak and off peak hours?
  6.  What are the wait times for machines and free weight areas during peak hours?  Is there a time limit on the machines during peak hours?  Non peak hours?
  7.  Look at the area surrounding the gym, both in the daytime and at night.  Do you feel safe here?  Do you feel safe parking your car here?
  8.  Do they offer classes or group sessions that you will want to join?  Are they included or are they an additional cost?
  9.  Are towels provided or do you need to bring your own?  Is there a towel fee and if so, how much?
  10.  How are the facilities themselves?  Clean, well maintained?  Dirty, in need of repair?
  11.  Same with the machines and other exercise items.  Are they maintained and in good working order, or in need of repair with some machines broken and out of commission?

My suggestion to you is to ask the staff those questions and note the answers, but, ask yourself those same questions and find out the answers for yourself.  I’m not saying a salesperson would stretch the truth to make a sale, but I personally will take those answers with a grain of salt and find out for myself.  Ask for a seven (7) day pass that will let you use the gym at any time they are open and use the pass!  Use their equipment at peak and non peak hours and look at how many people are there.  Look at who is there.  Go during the morning if you can, during the day, during the evening and at night as well.  Again, do you feel safe, do you feel this is a place that you can wear clothing to exercise in and feel okay?  Joining a gym is a big investment for some people, much the same as leasing a car.  It must be right for you!

No matter where you work out, be it at the gym or in your home, be sure to do so regularly and safely.  Becoming the most fit and healthy person you can be this new year is going to take hard work and exercise will need to be part of that work.  In part two of  this post, we’ll discuss tips on getting into the groove of exercising regularly.



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