How to find the best indoor workout now that winter is here

With cold weather knocking at the door you’ve decided to move your workouts indoors. You were exercising outside right?

For many, the decision to start exercising comes with trepidation. (I assumed you may have missed a few workout sessions over the summer, so we’re starting from scratch).

Accompanying the discomfort of your first sit up are three common barriers. First, the barrier of change. Second, determining an appropriate exercise location. Third, showing up.

We’ve talked before about barriers one and three, so I will tackle number two to shed a little light on your options.

Commercial gym

Pros: Commercial gyms are the meccas of modern exercise. These gleaming, high-tech superstores house unlimited options for the serious exerciser ranging from a wide range of fitness classes to body building and power lifting. Lots to do, lots to see … lots.

Cons: These gyms typically cater to the serious exerciser. If you’re unfit, older or self-conscious, commercial gyms may not be your thing. Also, some gyms are notorious for complicated contracts and upselling. If you feel pressured by aggressive staff, retreat and regroup. Think about what you really want before committing to six months with a trainer you’ve never met.

NFP (not-for-profit) gym
Pros: Not-for-profit gyms (municipal, college or university, YMCA) are a gentler version of their commercial counterparts. NFP gyms aren’t as sleek as their big box cousins but they tend to be more accessible for the average person. Generally, they provide similar equipment and amenities in a somewhat less intimidating environment.

Cons: Big gyms deal in big numbers. With thousands of members walking though the door, individual attention can get lost. Unless you stand out as a “regular,” its easy to become a nameless face in the crowd. This may work for introverts but not for intimidated beginners seeking assistance.

Note: Attention valued members: we’re sorry for any inconvenience. Both NFP and commercial gym experiences can be diminished by aging and complicated infrastructures — especially when pools and wet change rooms are involved. “Out of order” signs can be a regular occurrence.

Boutique studio (yoga, personal training, spin, etc.)
Pros: In boutique studios, “members” become “clients” as the focus shifts from participation to personal experience and development. Specialized coaches and trainers tend to be subject matter experts. Think high end hair salon as compared to a chain.

Cons: Studios tend to be pricey. Instead of variety, you’re paying for an exclusive experience. Generally speaking, gyms provide opportunity, studios provide motivation and guidance.

Condo/corporate/hotel gym
Pros: If you’re lucky, there’s a gym in your condo or workplace. Hey, no parking issues or lineups.

Cons: This value-added amenity may not be a priority for property managers and landlords. Cheap equipment that looks great on opening day loses its lustre quickly. When designing these spaces, planning teams should rely on experts. Box store equipment won’t stand the test of time and often can’t be repaired. You get what you pay for.

Home gym
Pros: Right down the hall to your left. No excuses!

Cons: Many people purchase cheap exercise equipment on a whim. Bands, body weight and a landmine set will do just fine — all for under $400.

With your gym ready for use, don’t wing it. Take the money you saved on equipment and find a good online trainer to support your development.

No gym
Pros: Research shows that getting outside is a great mood booster.

Cons: It’s tough getting a good workout outside without exercise knowledge. Walking and running fall short of developing full body strength — not even with hand weights or walking poles. Weather can also be prohibitive.

From someone who has experience in all of the above, I can tell you there’s a good fit for everyone.

Remember, do your homework and check online reviews prior to purchasing. Location and best price, while appealing, may not be that important if you can’t find parking or you’re too intimidated to show up.

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