Hi Fit Running Mama readers! My name is Jenna and I am an AFAA certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. You can find me blogging about fitness, running, and my daily adventures at LittleGreenRunningShoes.com. I am so excited Laura is letting me hang out with you today.
The very beginning of this year, my husband and I packed our stuff and made the biggest move of our lives. We moved from North Carolina where we were raised and our families still live, to Pennsylvania where we know almost no one. Once we were settled into our new house, it was time to start looking for a new job. There are more gyms, health clubs, yoga studios, and fitness equipment stores here than I have ever seen in my life (and I work in the fitness industry!) In all my job hunting I have had the chance to tour a lot of new facilities. As a fitness fanatic, seeing a new gym is better than Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s Day combined. I love exploring the un-charted territory of a weight room, finding the perfect treadmill, meandering through new brands of resistance machines, and oogling over shiny group exercise rooms. I also know that I am in a small minority group that enjoys this process. Most folks find new gyms intimidating and have trouble deciding which facility is the right one for them. I am here to tell you that joining a gym can and should be a fun process.
Starting over is tough. It doesn’t matter if you are starting fresh in a new city, trying a new gym/studio, or just taking a new class for the first time, no one likes to be the new kid. Over the last few weeks, I have been the new kid a lot and I know I still have a long way to go. Looking for a new gym can be intimidating and stressful. No one likes to feel pressured to make a decision, yet we are hammered with membership rates and special discounts the second we walk into a facility. So how do we see through all the coupons, dollar signs, smiling receptionists, packed weight rooms, and staring members? We take it one step at a time.
1. Write a list of what you want out of a gym. Do you want a community or just a place to lift weights? Do you care about new equipment or state of the art features? Do you care about price over quality?
2. Once you have an idea for the type of place you want to go, take a drive to see which locations are closest to your house or job. Do an internet search, you may be able to have a lot of your questions answered from a website. Ask around and see what local folks think. Being in a new area and not knowing anyone makes this part a little tricky. I’ve asked neighbors, waitresses, people in line at the grocery store, and members at the gym I’m looking at. If you are in a familiar area but just need guidance, ask your friends or members of your church. People will be honest and it’s important to hear the details in their response. Someone may love their gym but hate one particular aspect of it and this may be a deal breaker for you.
3. Take some tours. Most gyms are always looking for new members and they would love to tell you all the positive reasons why you should join. Try to come prepared with a list of questions so you can get all the information you need to make your decision.
4. Get a guest pass and try it out. You are allowed to test drive a car before you buy it, so test drive the gym too! Go at a high traffic time and see if people talk to you. Take a group exercise class. Ask the employees for advice. Get a feel for the place before you sign the dotted line.
5. Think it through and make a decision. Once you have all your facts its time to decide. Remember that you can always change your mind (unless you sign a 20 year contract) and that nothing is forever. If you made the wrong choice, there’s no shame in admitting it and trying again somewhere else.
Don’t forget that while starting over is tough, it is also good! Change and progression are a necessary part of a healthy workout regimen. Finding a new facility can open you up to a whole new community. Be brave and branch out of your comfort zone, you may surprise yourself! Here are a few other tips to make your new fitness experiences a little easier.