I walk into Anytime Fitness. The fluorescentlights assault me as I wipe the sleep from my eyes. It’s 6am. I put my bag down and tread across the carpet to warm up on the rowing machine. To stun my limbs into working. When I feel the blood pumping I head to the weights. I start my session.
Noone says a word. Noone ackowledges eachother. They put their earphones in, they head to their machines, they do their workout, they get out. And that’s just the way it is. Not good or bad. Just the way it is. I’m used to it. Getting in and getting out.
That’s Anytime Fitness.
About six months ago, I wanted to try something new. A friend had started going to a gym called J-Train Athletic. So one Saturday morning I came along.
At first, of course, I was intimidated. As many women are when they first start working out, particularly around alot of men. And on my first day, there were alot of men. Manly men. Who play sport and lift weights and shit talk to eachother. But since that day I’ve been hooked on that gym. I’m in the process of cancelling my Anytime membership to be fully committed to J-Train. I love being there. Here’s why.
Community is crucial
Anytime Fitness is packed to the rafters with equipment. You name it, they have it. They even have a vending machine full of protein bars. But there’s one thing they lack in volumes and that’s a sense of community.
J-Train thrives off community. You don’t walk into the gym without acknowledging eachother. And you don’t leave without saying goodbye. And that’s not out of necessity, but out of respect that you’ve built for eachother. Because you’re not just an individual who puts their headphones in and leaves. You’re part of a community. And that’s something gyms across the country fail to build.
People legitimately support eachother
At Anytime, I always feel this little pang of anxiety when I look over and I see someone lifting some serious weight without anyone to spot them. They’ve got their earphones in and they’re pumping it out. But if something goes wrong, there’s noone there to prevent an injury. I have never felt that at J-Train. Because everyone at the gym is aware. People will drop what they’re doing to spot. And there’s always a qualified trainer on hand to help if anything goes wrong.
At risk of sounding like a tosser, it’s not just the physical support that’s important. It’s the comradery. It’s rallying around someone who’s hitting a PB or struggling to complete their last set. That’s something you won’t find much in life. And that’s why I love going back. Beacause I always feel like someone has my back.
You can watch experienced trainers and athletes train properly
As a novice, it’s taken me a long, long time to develop my technique and I still have heaps to learn. I don’t know if it’s a female thing, but I feel women are hesitant to ask for advice out of fear of humiliation. Out of fear that someone’s going to laugh at you or taunt you. Alot of my technique development has come from watching experts in their element and asking questions. You learn so much just by observing.
You’re way stronger than you think
At Anytime I was always hesitant to push myself. Because I went there alone and I was afraid of getting hurt or embarrassing myself (surprise, surprise). Being in an environment where you feel safe and supported can make you do amazing things you didn’t think you were capable of. I found out that I’d been holding myself back. And I started experimenting and testing myself more. And that’s not just beneficial for your physical health. It does wonders for your confidence too.
You start feeling more confident and not caring about what other people think
Being around men can be really good for your self esteem. Hear me out. From what I’ve observed, men are way more confident and comfortable in their own skin than women. They give off these ‘I don’t care what other people think’ vibes. And those vibes are infectious. I’ve noticed, since joining Jtrain, that I am way more comfortable in my own skin and I worry about what people think of me less.
I can now say that I actually do love going to the gym. And that’s not because I love working out. It’s because I love my gym. And that makes all the difference. It stops being a chore and becomes something you look forward to.
There’s just one thing missing. More female members. But that’s a post for another time.