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Now I remember. Now I remember why gymming is not my thing – it’s massively inconvenient. That’s why. It’s not so much the working out part that I hate as much as everything I have to sacrifice in order to do it.

Like finding an algorithm that brings you true love on a dating website, there are a lot of different factors to consider.

Before you read on, yes, this is a massive rant about why gymming sucks – but there’s a pleasant surprise if you read all the way to the bottom.

Finding a time
First there’s time. Even if a workout is only 30 minutes (and most classes are an hour FYI), you still have to factor in time to get there, time to change beforehand and time to shower afterwards. So a 30-minute workout quickly becomes something that requires you to sacrifice an hour and a half t two hours of your time. And time is incredibly valuable. When you’re trying to be a functioning adult – life is busy. Even if you’re kid-free. You have a minimum 40-hour workweek, which sees you getting up around 6am and getting home around 6pm. If you do get home by 6pm, that’s the time when you cook, clean, do laundry, run miscellaneous errands, phone loved ones far away, enjoy hobbies, and try and meet up with friends. And let’s not forget relaxation. Even if you go to bed at 11pm, by the time you’ve gone to the gym you’ve lost two hours you could have spent doing the other stuff.

Finding a location
There’s also a location issue. I actually tried going to the gym last year for a few aqua aerobics classes, and while I loved the classes (and for those of you wondering, no, I was not the only participant under 50), and the gym, (shower gel and shampoo, towels, robes and slippers provided) the gym was too far out of the way. It was only really convenient to get to by car – and I don’t have a car, because I live in Stockholm, and who needs a car in Stockholm?

Finding a spot
Another issue with that gym was that the spontaneity element was seriously lacking. If I decided the morning of that I wanted to work out, it was probably not going to happen. Not because I couldn’t get there in time, but because the class was booked up 2 WEEKS PRIOR. I get the need to plan your workouts, but going to the gym needs to be convenient and there needs to be room for flexibility. If you had planned to workout on a Thursday and something came up and you tried to move it to Friday, good luck to you, it just was not going to happen.

Finding the money
Okay so it’s hard to be spontaneous. And it’s far away. And, it requires you to sacrifice a few hours a week. All of those things are a pain, but I think the toughest thing with the gym is the price. You want me to pay WHAT? And the gyms are so, so, good at this. Some gyms are kind enough to have one-off passes, so that you only pay per class you attend, and it’s nice of them, because if you only really want to go once with a friend, you can; but it’s also cruel. Why is it cruel? Because think about it – pricing models are usually set up like this: per session $9, per month $40, per 6 months $120, per year $250; so that it’s better value for you to sign up for a year’s membership, even though it’s unlikely that you’ll work out enough to get the financial benefit.

Finding the will to carry a massive gym bag around all day
Then there’s the gym bag. How often do you want to workout? Are you willing to invest in workout gear so you don’t have to wear the same sweat-drenched clothes 3+ times a week? If not, will you wash your clothes 3+ times a week? What about your towel? If you work out in the middle of the day what do you do with your towel, stuff it back into your gym back soaking wet? Drape it on the back of your chair? And don’t even get me started on the gym bag itself. You have to carry another bag around all day? It would be a heck of a lot easier if the gym had a towel, shower gel and shampoo all waiting for you. More work for them yes, but less work for you.

Finding a class you’re interested in
One more thing. Does the gym have the equipment or classes you’re interested in? Are the classes you want at times that actually work for you i.e. not 10am when you’re supposed to be at work?

Here are a few more fun factors to consider:
If you’re a parent you might need a gym that has childcare.
If you’re often travelling around the country you might need a gym with multiple locations.
If you have odd working hours, a gym that is open 24 hours is probably your best bet.
If you need more direction – you need a gym with a personal trainer available.

So how do you make it work? I have two solutions:

Workout from home
There aren’t classes, and there’s no-one to show you how to perform each exercise correctly, but it allows you to work out, and means you have full control over time, convenience, price, location, offering, and best of all, no need for a gym bag!

Just do it (Sorry Nike)
It requires time and research, but if it’s important to you, you’ll do it. End of story. Sit down, prioritise the factors according to how important they are to you, and make a list of gyms close to you. Work through the list and find out which gyms best match your needs. There’s no such thing as a perfect gym, but with all the gyms around – you should be able to find something that at least somewhat resembles what you want.

In terms of price – there are always a few things that might help:
1. Keep an eye out for special offers from the gym
2. Most gyms offer student or pensioner prices (if you fall into one of those categories)
3. Check with your employer about the benefits they offer – some employers offer to pay for some or all of your gym membership offer, others offer special discounts at specific gyms, and some (those of you with such employers are the lucky ones!) have gyms in-house so you don’t have to pay anything or go anywhere – perfect!

All this is to say: I think I’ve found a gym!

Here’s how I prioritised my gym requirements:
1. Location – somewhere in-between work and home so I don’t have to go out of my way to get there
2. Offering – do they have classes I want at times I can do?
3. Convenience – can I decide to go in 30 minutes time and get a space?
4. Time – It needs to be open early enough for me to go before work, and late enough for me to go after; so minimum 7am until 8pm
5. Price – Don’t get me wrong here, because I need it to not cost the earth, but my employer has health benefits which means I don’t need to worry too much about it
6. Gym bag – If I can skip bringing a big ol’ bag with me I will, but if not, NBD

Here’s what the gym I found offers:
1. Location – it’s in between two stops I pass on my way to work. So I can go right before work or right after without taking a detour
2. Offering – they do spinning, they do circuit training, they do HIIT and strength training, AND they do climbing!
3. Convenience – I checked the class schedule and there were still spaces for today, in 3 hours, not bad
4. Time – The gym opens at 6.30am and doesn’t shut until 10.45pm on weekdays
5. Price – the yearly membership is pretty much covered by my employer health benefit – so I won’t be out of pocket
6. Gym bag – N/A

What’s most important to you? Now that I’ve found my gym, it’s time for you to find yours!

– Femi

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