The Strange and Wonderful Land of Health Clubs

The Strange and Wonderful Land of Health ClubsOne of the most common misperceptions I have encountered as an instructor at Crunch Fitness is that most people believe these temples of sweat and muscle are only for “fitness models” and “workout warriors.”

Let me tell you why they are wrong.

  1. The health club is yours just as much as anyone else’s. Clients have said, as I brought them to “hardcore” areas of the gym, “I can’t go there, that area is only for people that look perfect.” No one is perfect and, well, how do you think they got to be where they are now? By going there… We all start somewhere.
  2. “Everyone is looking at me and my uncool attire.” I call this the “child’s pose” of health clubs, because of the expression on their faces when they say this. Nobody is judging you. Remember, the club is full of narcissistic people focusing solely on themselves. This is not grade school where kids run around making fun of other kids.
  3. I have trained people without limbs, burn victims and folks with MS. These are inspirational people whose least concern is how they look to others.
  4. Asking questions does not make you look like a fool. My pet peeve is watching people performing an exercise incorrectly in a way that potentially puts themselves at a high risk for injury. When approached, they are way too cool to admit that they might not know something, and they brush you away with their hands. Remember, whether it’s fitness or anything else in life, you can always learn from others.
  5. Injuries: I have seen so many people that end up hurting themselves, because they were too embarrassed to ask how to use a machine. You wouldn’t walk into a construction site without being aware of the machinery around you, right? The gym can be just as dangerous. This type of person is different than the arrogant patron I spoke of above in (4) who won’t take advice because they know it all. The people I speak about here are just too shy and embarrassed about bothering someone. As trainers, that is exactly what we are paid to do, but we can’t see everything, so it’s your job to ask us; we’d love to help. Always remember that what you don’t know can hurt you. (like that tuna sandwich that’s been sitting  in the glass display for 2 weeks– J)
  6. As important as physical growth, it is equally important to grow mentally. When you are at the club, relax and take it all in – the sights, the sounds and how people interact with each other. Open your mind to new experiences, ask questions and understand that no one is perfect… mistakes will happen. You paid your dues and your money is as good as anyone else’s.

There are many reasons to join a health club, and there are many different types of clubs that cater to people’s particular personalities.  Someone who is just starting out might not want to join a heavy metal club, where the grunting and groaning is free, whereas a man that has been lifting weights for years would not want to join a club like “Curves” that caters more to women.

When looking for a gym, you want to find a place where you feel comfortable, and that might not necessarily be the nearest neighborhood club. Well known chains can offer many amenities and classes, but the large spaces can be overwhelming to newbies and pushy sales people can make it extremely uncomfortable.

It’s also helpful to join up with a friend or hire a personal trainer that can help make the health club experience fun (and of course your wallet lighter). There are many options to choose from, so take your time and find out what fits you best.

Michael Sherry

Michael Sherry

Michael is a creative writer and personal trainer in NYC. He has a BA in creative writing and has written for several local publications in the region.
Michael Sherry

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