Growing up in the early 1980’s, I never would have thought the words “fitness community” belonged together. There was one kind of gym, maybe two, but it wasn’t like today. That phrase slowly began to evolve the older I got and now there’s not a better term for finding someplace to better yourself: physically, mentally, and even spiritually. There’s a lot of different types of gyms out there. Some places every street corner has a gym. But how do you find someplace that you fit in as opposed to fitting in someplace you find?
The first question to ask yourself is what are you looking for in a gym? Is your goal one that is strictly exercise or is it more of a socialized setting? Or is it a mixture of both? There are gyms that are specifically designed to cater to strictly exercise or to those who would rather socialize in a gym setting. There are gyms that are chain-gyms designed from specific marketing for specific populations and interests and there are gyms for everything in-between.
The “Strictly Exercise Gym”
Dark. Hot. Olympic weights. Dumbbells. Kettlebells. Maybe a cable machine. No frills. Maybe a mirror or two. You bring your own protein shake (or better yet water!) and you get after it. Back in my day, mostly males were in this gym. Not all, but mostly. Today though, you’ll find women doing everything the males are doing, and a lot of times better!
In this style of gym, the fitness community seems to be more isolated. There’s obviously the friends who work out together but there’s also the lone person who doesn’t want to talk: get in, workout, get it done. Think athletes as opposed to a “chain gym” which I’ll cover a little later. There may be a few group exercises classes offered but more than likely there’s not. It’s just a gym, nothing fancy about it. And it’s a dying breed in the community.
This is the type of gym I had always been in. I liked it because I’m not much of a socializer. I’m usually “on the clock” for one reason or another and I want to utilize the time I have and “get it done”.
The “Socializing Gym”
I’ve seen, and worked in, this type of gym. I found myself looking at a lot of cardio machines: treadmills, spin bikes, ellipticals, etc. Brightly lit, lots of mirrors, nice locker rooms, maybe a smoothie stand, maybe a spa, and numerous group exercise classes offered (which is a great way to connect with people). Men and women doing their workout while catching up on the latest news. It’s a great place to gather and spend time with your gym friends while still getting that hour-long (or longer) workout.
But be warned! Creepers go here too. You’ve probably seen, or experienced yourself, being stared at while working out. You’ve done nothing to warrant this but it’s happening. Male or female, thinking this is a great place to pick up someone. This is something I can’t stand and don’t tolerate. A gym is to better your body, not stare at a better body. Now don’t get me wrong. Creepers are everywhere. In every type of gym. In every type of setting. But in my experience, I’ve noticed it’s more prevalent in this setting.
Back to the good stuff: the fitness community in this gym setting seems to want to socialize as much as working out. A weight room isn’t the only option available either. There may be a pool, kid camps, a coffee stand, you name it, it may have it. If you prefer a lot of available cardio with modern facilities in a socializing setting, this may be the fitness community for you.
The “Chain Gym”:
Big brand names. Lots of diverse equipment. Profit over people. You’ve seen them. As soon as you read the title of this, most likely some brand name popped in your head. These gyms are very specialized. They’ve marketed a certain demographic or specialty. The fitness community in this setting is no different. You’ll find like-minded people alongside people who don’t quite know what to expect but are looking and have an interest in what the gym is targeting. And yes, you’ll find the Creepers. But, if you’re looking for a specific population you’ll fit right in and you can confront the Creepers.
The “In-Between Gym”
I could easily call this the “Hybrid Gym”. This style of gym has the best of both worlds: a fitness community who is after the free weights as much as the stair-stepper; group exercise classes that you connect with people as well as the “leave me alone I’m working out” mentality. This type of gym cares about its fitness community. It’s a people’s-gym not a profit-gym. Body Language Gym is the perfect example of this. You’ll find free group exercises classes offered not only to get you interested in the gym but also to get you moving to better yourself. You’ll find the equipment you’re after or the group exercise you want to try. You’ll find people who actually care about you. To me, this is the best place to find a fitness community.
How do you find a fitness community that fits you? Get out of the house! Ask yourself what you’re looking for then get out and find it! Whether you’re an experienced fitness guru or just starting out, you must get out and explore. There’s a fitness community for you. Once you find it, you won’t want to leave it. You’ll become part of its tribe. Happy hunting!
Rusty Monkres is an ACE certified personal trainer and founder of SC2™