Right now, I’m in the market for a new gym to train in. I’ve recently relocated from Dublin, Ireland to Calgary, Alberta – meaning its a bit of a trek back to hit my old local facility. Before coming over, I’d have thought that finding somewhere to move some weight around in a much more diverse city would be easy. However, three weeks in I’m yet to find anywhere that ticks even some of the boxes I’m looking to fill!
This feet is made a bit more difficult by the fact that I’m relying on public transport to get me around. I’m living more or less downtown and although the public transport system is quite good in this city, commuting 30 minutes to a gym isn’t something that’s sustainable in the long run.
This limits my options quite substantially but has got me thinking about what turns a good facility into a great one!
The gyms I’ve trained in over the last few years are scattered to say the least. From small time hotel leisure clubs to big commercial set ups with farms of treadmills. “Crossfit” esk outfits to some grungy shed in an industrial estate. Although it’s a far stretch from all the world has to offer, this experience has allowed me to build up an idea of what it is about a particular facility that I like, and that can be summed up in one sentence.
The best gym is one that is Bullshit free.
I’m not looking for the next biggest strength machine, the newest training programs or any “functional zones”. I’m not looking for somewhere that’s dank and old for the sake of it and I’m not looking for something where all the equipment is brand new. No. The only thing I look for in a facility is an atmosphere and environment that uses tried and true methods of hard work, dedication and support to allow those to get closer to their goals.
These types of gyms are built around getting people the results that they want and keeping them healthy. It’s not filled with people who think that just because they might be the strongest person in there that they’re better than everyone else or with barely qualified coaches over-complicating everything to try make themselves look more intelligent.
The unfortunate thing is that gyms that tick these kinds of boxes are few and far between. As health and fitness is becoming more and more popular and as particular fads or training styles become more mainstream, it seems that gyms are more concerned with training people for what will give them the best PR rather than helping clients develop and work towards their own physical goals.
Personally, I think this will only get worse before it gets better, too. Not only will we see more and more people get more interested in getting themselves healthy, but we will also see more and more people get fed up with the lack of real support and coaching that they need to achieve the goals that they want.
It’s important to remember that true physical health isn’t being the strongest person in the gym, being able to do a plethora of movements on a bar or even just being lean. It’s about minimising your risks of any medical issues and building a body that allows you to live pain-free and do all the activities that you want to do.
So if you’re in the market for a new place to train make sure it covers all the bases that you need it to. At the end of the day you are paying for access to a facility to achieve something in particular and not just because you should. Take time to ask the staff the questions that are important to you and how they can provide any help that you need. Because being a member of a great facility vs a good one could be the difference between you meeting your own goals vs ones that someone else thinks you should have!
For now, I’m still on the search! Wish me luck!