Do you spell gym, b-o-r-i-n-g? It doesn’t have to be. Most facilities provide a lot more than mundane treadmills and dumbbells. Here are five “who knew?” offerings available at most clubs that will make you—and your body—never want to leave.
1. Try some new toning tools
Ditch the stability balls and body bars and challenge yourself with TRX straps, kettlebells, battle ropes, rubber tires and wheelbarrows. “Constantly using your muscles in new ways tones and strengthens them faster and keeps you from reaching a plateau,” says Michelle Opperman, Crunch Group Fitness Coordinator in San Francisco. It’s a lot more stimulating for your brain too. Ask the staff at your gym for some tips to get started.
2. You can afford a personal trainer!
Many gyms offer group training sessions. For example, while a one-on-one session averages $100 an hour, at the time of this writing Elevation’s got a 4 person package for $50. “You get all the benefits of a personal trainer without the hefty price tag. She looks at your fitness level and goals and works with you to meet those goals by addressing your specific learning style,” says Deborra Liddy, owner of Elevation Fitness in West Hollywood and a former elementary school teacher. She equates it to individualized education. Plus, even if only one person shows up, the cost is the same. Check your local gym to see if they offer group training sessions. Or, there’s an app for that! Choose from any number of personal training apps that can help you power through your workouts. For example, Gold’s Gym offers Gold’s AMP, it’s online library of music and original workouts led by coaches for just under $10/month.
3. Get free tutorials
Those trainers strolling around the weight room aren’t just there to help you adjust the machines. “It’s a free service most members don’t take advantage of. They can teach you anything from how to stretch using foam rollers to a series of ab exercises,” says Opperman. The same is true of class instructors. Most are certified trainers and are there to answer questions or give advice.
4. Take a cutting edge class
Yes, we are suggesting you jump, lunge, kick and stretch out of your comfort zone. Most gyms offer surprising hybrids that, like the resistance props mentioned earlier, promise to activate your mind and muscles in new ways. Take Opperman’s Body Art class for instance. It borrows from yoga, Pilates, dance and traditional cardio. A Kickboxing Bootcamp class at Elevation merges kickboxing, stretching, jumping rope and calisthenics. Feeling self-conscious about not looking as polished as some of the other members? Watch a class before you try it. You’ll not only see if it interests you, you’ll find everyone is so focused on their own workouts they can’t possibly watch or judge anyone else. After mastering a new class, feel your confidence soar.
5. Experience virtual cardio
Tediously toiling on cardio machines is no longer your only indoor route to staying fit. Now you can actually have fun while you’re sweating bullets! A bevy of bikes, treadmills and stairclimbers now come with virtual screens that launch you into interactive workouts. Some even come with Google Maps so you can program your favorite neighborhood route. “The beauty of these is that the distraction is part of the exercise. In comparison, when you watch television, you work out less hard since you’re no longer concentrating on your body,” says Liddy.
Every gym has its own special perks. Dig deep into your favorite gym to find the hidden fun and reinvigorate your workouts!
And, as an NEA member, you can search for discounts on gym memberships, clothing and more at retailers through NEA Discount Marketplace.