Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Training environment is composed of many elements—people being just one part. Building and equipment layout, the amount of people, noise levels, cleanliness, types of equipment, personalities of staff and fellow gym-goers, amenities (showers, lockers, etc.), lighting, and community (or lack thereof) are all factors to take into consideration. Appealing options for one person may be huge turnoffs for another. So, I’d ask yourself, what makes or breaks a gym environment for you? Do you prefer a less busy facility that leaves you to peacefully mind your own business? Do you want to be a member of a gym where you take classes with others? Should you join a sport-specific club, so you can train with like-minded folks? Are cleanliness, music, or practical considerations like showers deal-breakers for you?
Over the years, I’ve gotten the chance to train at all types of gyms. Globo gyms, hardcore bodybuilding gyms, Olympic weightlifting clubs, strength and conditioning gyms, CrossFit gyms—you name it! If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the people you train around can either make or break your workouts. While I would agree you shouldn’t rely solely on others for motivation, surrounding yourself with a supportive environment and people who have a good attitude and are excited about training can totally change the experience. Conversely, people who are negative and constantly complaining about training can really bring the vibe down and make workouts seem less appealing.
If you struggle with consistency, it might make sense to seek out a gym where you can make friends and have others holding you more accountable to attending. Maybe your main complaint is feeling self-conscious at the gym. If so, a smaller training studio with less members and a more private environment may make your experience more comfortable. Maybe you are extremely busy with work and need a gym convenient to your workplace, equipped with showers so you can get ready for work after your workouts. All these scenarios lay out how you might decide on a gym based around your personal needs and likes.
Personally, as I compete in Olympic weightlifting, community is the most important element to me. With tough training typically being standard, it’s nice to have a group of people to push you on hard days, who understand the struggles of the sport. I also want to be part of a gym with a knowledgeable coach who can help me to progress. These priorities mean I have less choice when it comes to special amenities like showers.
Everyone is unique and has different preferences. One person’s ideal training environment may be another person’s worst nightmare. If you are unhappy with your current gym or looking for a gym to join, get out there and try lots of different gyms. There are so many other types of gyms than just your massive, impersonal fitness chains like LA Fitness, 24Hour Fitness, or Planet Fitness. You could very well be missing key pieces that would encourage you to be excited to get to the gym!
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