This month we’re taking a closer look at big box style gyms vs. smaller studio gyms.
This week – on to the big box gym!
What are the top five big-box gym benefits?
#1 The location
If you drive around town it’s clear that the big box gyms strategically position themselves in the easy to reach places. Just off the highway with massive parking lots… right down town with glowing red signs and plenty of ramps near by.
No matter where you are coming from or where you are going, getting to the gym has generally been made pretty easy. And for all of us busy parents, only having to drive 10 minutes to and from the gym is a great perk.
#2 The daycare
It is increasingly common for big box gyms to have a daycare center on site. And not only that, but they know how to keep the kids moving! These free daycare centers (usually free to members) get the kids playing kick ball and tag and volleyball, and sometimes even swimming. Working out at the gym really becomes a full family event when you know that everyone you brought to the gym, is getting their exercise.
#3 The social aspect
If you enjoy meeting new people, a big gym is the place for you. If you take advantage of group classes you’re even more likely to meet other people in your community that have not only similar interests, but similar schedules. After all, you and that other 30-something mom are both squeezing in an extra yoga class at 4pm before rushing home to make dinner. See how much you already have in common? You’re bound to be life-long friends!
#4 The options
If you know you want to work out tonight, but don’t know exactly what you’re in the mood for, no sweat! (or rather, you can still sweat) A big gym has ALL of the options – pop in for a spin class, jump into the pool, grab a basketball and crash a game of HORSE.
Still want that yoga or Pilates class? There’s a good chance those are group class options too.
#5 Try new things
And finally, number five... closely related to number four. Big box gyms make it so easy to try new things!
Because of the insane amount of options, you are more likely to try new things. There are pickle ball games, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) classes, hip hop cardio, aqua yoga.. the list goes on. What if you’re really really good (like Olympic-level good) at aqua yoga? You never would have found that out by hanging out at a small studio!
Speaking of studios, more and more big box gyms are admitting the major benefits of a studio space. And many are beginning to take some inspiration and offer “studio-in” services within the larger gym.
Perhaps you’ve seen some of this sneaky marketing at work.
For example, at our local gym there is a hot yoga studio, a Pilates studio, and a cross fit studio all within the walls of a larger gym. Not to mention the wellness club where you can swing in for a meditation clinic. More and more clubs have the space and they’re using it – studio style.
So is a big box really the best of both worlds? In my opinion, no.
No matter how they try, they’re still a big club, pretending to be a small studio. Try as they might, they’ll never be able to offer the small intimate setting. If you are looking for consistent, flexible, one-on-one training, it’s hard to deny that you are far better off at a small studio.
What can we conclude?
Big box gyms and small studios both have positives and negatives and not every gym is right for every person.
When choosing a gym, you need to take your personality, your workout habits, your dedication level and even your proximity to the gym into consideration.
I admit that I would get a much better, much more consistent workout if I went to my friend Ben’s gym. I would not be as likely to convince myself that I need a night off… but then again, I love working out with my kids. I love taking them to the pool, and to kick a ball around on the indoor soccer fields. That family time is priceless. I also love meeting new people and trying new things. Our local gym (big as it is) enables me to do all of those things weekly.
…and the coffee house strategically placed on my way out the door doesn’t hurt either.
So as you look forward to your New Year’s resolutions of gym attendance, getting in shape, and trying something new, I wish you happy gym hunting. I hope you find everything you are looking for and more. If only for the reason that you may stick with it longer and be around in June to tell the tale.