Why It’s Important to Belong to a Gym that is More than a Gym

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Around the New Year, in the ambitious spirit of resolutions, a wave sweeps across the nation, propelling people of all demographics to want to join a gym. While these new go-getters are certainly well-intentioned, sadly for the majority, the motivation doesn’t last. Quora.com reports that 80% of resolution gym goers will stop attending by the second week of February. Why does the hot pursuit of fitness crash and burn every year within a mere six weeks?

There are lots of reasons, and many of them are specific to the individual, but one overarching reason is that for most people, a gym is simply a place to work out, and that isn’t enough to entice most to make it a regular part of life. If you stop showing up, no one else notices or cares; and soon, your yourself stop caring, because the space adds no value to your life.  After a few weeks, once the fire of the new years resolution fizzles out and the desired results have yet to show up, it’s difficult to drag your butt out of bed at the crack of dawn (or before) to go to a place where you are alone, physically uncomfortable, and nameless to the other bodies sweating next to you. Sound pleasant? No? No wonder most people don’t come back.

Here are four reasons why it’s important and in your best interest to join a gym – or enroll your kids in a gym –  that is more than just a gym.

1. A gym that is more than a gym helps you train, not just workout…

…and yes, there is a difference, both between working out and training, and a gym and a training center. Any local gym will be a decent fit if you are the type of person that enjoys exercise in itself – the discomfort and the exertion wrapped up into one 60-minute sweat fest. Some people think exercise is fun, and this direct pay-off is sufficient to propel them to create their own discipline and accountability. But for most of us mere mortals, the individual sweat sessions are just not enticing enough. And if you are just hitting the gym with no direction or the latest Pinterest workout in hand, the sessions start to seem disconnected and purposeless, making you question if the discomfort is really worth your time. 

That’s why it’s important to join a gym that is, specifically, a training center. Meaning that the institution has a mission statement that hinges on coaches who come alongside you to help you focus and adapt your sessions toward a clearly defined goal. “Goal” is the key idea here. We would all laugh if, while we were driving, we saw a man in a field throwing darts in different directions, aiming at nothing. Throwing darts only becomes meaningful and recognizable as a sane activity when there’s a target involved. This illustrates the distinction between working out and training. It’s easy to quit showing up if you’re not sure where you’re aiming. Working out is simply a task; training is a goal-oriented process, spilling over and reaping its benefits into other areas of life.

A great coach helps you identify and define that target, articulate WHY it’s important in your life, and then creates for you a path in the form of action steps, setting you up to eventually hit it spot on, and planning for some bumps along the way. A training center operates daily with the purpose of helping its clients embrace an improved quality of life, whereas a gym simply exists to make money. In short, a training center cares about YOU, while a gym may not.

2. Such a gym can become a second home…

…or even make a new town feel like home.  If you’ve just moved to a new town, a training center with friendly coaches who are invested in your life can become a safe place of familiarity or even the first place you make friends. For others, joining such a training center can take the dread out of working out and transform that hour into a truly fun experience of bettering yourself alongside people you know well.

In either sense, a gym that is a second home is composed of staff and members who create community by fostering and maintaining meaningful relationships. If you join any local gym, chances are, you’ll see the same people a few days per week, but you’ll never get to know them. It is no more to you than space with weights and faces that have no significance. As humans, much of the value in life comes from being relational – knowing and being known. A space with workout equipment has little worth in the grand scheme of life, so we become easily derailed. It’s important to find a place where the faces you’ll see and conversations you have get you out of bed on the mornings when the thought of exercising just isn’t enough.

As a coach on the floor at 5:45 every morning, I relish the opportunity to be the first positive interaction in a client’s day. Often, the best part of my day is when Coach Matt and I are cracking jokes with a group of clients in between their sets or watching clients encourage each other during group training. As Force coaches, we place unmeasurable emphasis on staying in tune with every important aspect of our clients’ lives – family events, work changes, surgeries, and victories both inside and outside of the gym. I got just as excited when one of my 6 a.m. clients released his band’s record over the weekend as I did when he improved the handstand he’d been working on for months. Just this past weekend, I attended a Sunday brunch pitch-in with clients and coaches at the gym, again realizing how thankful I am to be a part of a training center that has provided me with a second family.

At most gyms, you’ll walk in and out of the door without anyone acknowledging your presence. Make sure you find a gym that can also be a second home.

3. Community creates accountability

Belonging to a gym that feels like home entices you to make training a habit. Community fosters accountability. Period. When you know you will be missed, you are more likely to go. You are far less likely to skip when you know a coach will be calling or emailing you, checking up to make sure everything is okay if you don’t show up.

In a gym that is a community, your coaches are just as serious about your goals and training as you are. They are consistently positive and relentlessly demanding, and they, along with the clients who have become your friends, will remind you of what you really want even when you don’t feel it.  They’ll help you maintain focus when your own vision of your target gets blurred by other life stresses or periods of low motivation.

The truth is, we aren’t wired to be our best on our own. We need accountability where discipline wanes. Join a gym that fills that need.

4. Enrolling your children in such a training center provides them with positive role models

If you want your child to become a more well-rounded athlete, seek out a training center with coaches who are positive role models. Sending your kid to the gym might make them stronger and better at their sport, but being regularly under the guidance of coaches who are relentlessly positive, demanding, as well as caring, will reap a much vaster benefit. Kids adopt the habits and mannerisms of people they look up to, so placing them under the guidance of coaches who are excellent role models is a move that has the power to transform the way they think, see, and conduct themselves on and off the field.

Even just during my internship at Force, I witnessed dozens of kids drastically change the way they carried themselves after just a few months in our sport performance program. I can think of two specifically who, over a short time, completely changed their actual posture – not only because Vince and Branden got them strong enough to correct their anterior pelvic tilt and shoulder position, but also because they empowered them in a way that gave them confidence and self-efficacy they had never before had.

For parents with young girls especially, it’s a great moment when your fourteen year-old daughter comes home from her training session and says, “Mom, I want to be STRONG,” instead of “Mom, how can I look like a Victoria’s Secret model?” Entrusting your female athlete to the care of coaches who emphasize the importance of feeling strong instead of being skinny – both through their coaching and their own habits – has the power to reverse the damaging societal norms associated with female body image.

If you want your child to get stronger, buy them a gym membership. If you want your athlete to become stronger, more inspired, increasingly confident, and a better teammate, entrust them to a training center with coaches who are positive role models.

In Health,

Coach Emily

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