Photo Credit:
IT Stock/Polka Dot/Thinkstock

The Unexpected Benefits of Joining a Gym

Discover so much more than barbells and bodybuilders
Written by 
Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie
Canyon Ranch Reviewer: 
Updated on: 
January 13, 2014

Sure, an average gym is filled with treadmills and free weights, but today’s fitness centers offer so much more. Not only will you have access to trainers and a place to work out whatever the weather, you’ll also find classes with more variety, services that adapt to your lifestyle and equipment that encourages you to try new workouts. There’s a new energy in that place you normally associate with loud music and smelly locker rooms. If you’ve been hesitant to spend money on a membership but are in a need of a positive change for your body and your mind, consider some of these other—possibly surprising—reasons to join your local gym.

Classes, Classes and More Classes!

There’s more variety than ever when it comes to fitness classes. From basics like body sculpting, Zumba and yoga, to trampolining, ballet and TRX suspension training, class schedules include something for everyone. You may even find a gym with the type of workouts usually reserved for private studios, such as The Bar Method (a mixture of ballet, Pilates and yoga) or Buti (a high-intensity workout that fuses yoga and dance with plyometric and conditioning). Try them all!

Workouts That Fit Your Schedule

More fitness clubs are aiming to adapt to your lifestyle. If you’re interested in squeezing a workout into the middle of the day, you’ll find some 30-45 minute classes created specifically for the busy exerciser. A short workout is better than no workout at all and burning calories on your lunch hour has its own benefits. Studies show that working out midday can boost your productivity and increase your stamina for the rest of the day.

Unique Equipment to Enhance Your Workout

There’s no need to feel intimidated by unfamiliar tools—trying something new fights boredom and enhances your results by challenging your muscles in new ways. Plus, with all the trainers on hand, you can always ask for instruction to get started. Kettlebells are a great alternative to free weights, for example. Using them involves total-body movement while boosting strength and cardiovascular fitness. Plus, the American Council on Exercise found that you could burn as many calories per minute working out with kettlebells as running a 6-minute mile!

A Soothing Spa Menu

Gyms aren’t just for burning calories and working up a sweat. Some have a menu of spa services like massages and access to a sauna or steam room. You’re invited to pamper yourself—what could be better after an intense workout? Trained therapists are on hand for deep tissue massage treatments, reflexology and, sometimes, specialty massages like hot stone or aromatherapy. Allow your muscles to relax and your senses to be invigorated. The combination of exercise and soothing treatments will have you walking out of the gym feeling renewed.  

Perks That Simplify Your Life

Health clubs are taking it even further by including services that help make your non-exercise life easier. There’s childcare, cafes and juice bars, and even dry cleaning services (yes, really!). There may even be a nutritionist on staff if you’re interested in improving your diet. Find out the fees for these extras, and whether they suit your needs. After all, you may be able to use those 20 minutes you would have spent going to the dry cleaner with some kettlebells or on the elliptical. If you’re able to feel good about your workout and your life, joining a gym may just be the positive change you’ve been looking for.

Reference(s) 
American Council on Exercise
American Heart Association
Journal of Exercise Physiology
Mayo Clinic
About the author 
Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie is a Syracuse, NY–based health and fitness writer, an American Council on Exercise–certified personal trainer and the author of Tone Every Inch (Rodale).