Find a Local Gym Quick…Your Life May Depend On It!
by City or Zip Code
When I was first searching for a place to work out, one of the first things I noticed about gyms near me was the fact that I didn’t really know where many were. Sure, I’ll admit that I was aware of the one rinky-dink place that I passed on the way to work every day and everyone in town was talking about the new LA Fitness that had just opened up, but obviously I knew that there were more than just two gyms near me – I just didn’t know where they were.
To be honest, this one little thing kept me from actually signing up with any gym for about 18 months. I did visit both of the two gym mentioned and did the free-day-pass thing, but I never committed to either of them. In the back of my mind I kept wondering if any of the other gyms near me either cost less or had a more features. I was really stuck on the value thing and because life got busy, like it does for all of us, I just procrastinated.In the meantime, my body was pretty much going downhill. I was putting on weight and the fact that I wasn’t doing anything to actively maintain my temple was impacting my on a psychological basis. I started eating poorly because, after all, if I was going to let myself slide for a while I might as well enjoy all the 5 Alarm Burgers at Red Robin that I wanted. I just kept telling myself that I would soon do a thorough search of the gyms near me, make a decision, and get myself back on track. Only that never seemed to happen. Days turned into weeks and there was always some reason not to make the effort. The gutters needed to be cleaned or my wife would tell me we really needed to have an outing with the kids (because they’re only kids once), or the weather was just too bad, or I could list a million things. Bottom line, I simply didn’t bother seeking out any other gyms near me and continued my downward plunge into health hell.
I’m sure that a psychologist would tell me that I was working through some self-concept issues at the time. Somehow I hated myself and was involved in a cycle of self-punishment that I would counteract by seeking comfort in food or something. I think that stuff is all hokey junk. In the end I really believe it comes down to the fact that I simply was too lazy to get in the car, drive to a couple gyms near me, and put in the effort to make a decision.
Things got really bad when my brother-in-law, Craig, came into town with his family for a visit over Christmas. I actually knew Craig from way back in high school. My wife is a year older than I (don’t tell her I let that be known here) and he’s a year younger than me, so for a few years there we were all in the same school. He’s always been athletic and has probably been a member of just about all the gyms near me as he seems to get bored with one or another and leaves. Either that or he hooks up with some girl that works there and after the inevitable break-up he feels uncomfortable working out there. Anyway, health and fitness is a core part of Craig’s life and I best that if I stopped in at any of the gyms near me which he’s been a member of I could talk to whoever is at the front desk and they’d tell me that he pretty much measures his worth as a man by the size of his chest and biceps. He obviously thinks that other men do the same.
So we’re hanging out after the big Christmas get-together at my wife’s parents house and Craig looks me up and down and blurts out, “Dude, you’re looking kinda pudgy! Are you not working out or something?” I replied that I was currently checking out the various gyms near me because I didn’t want to make a mistake and join one that would lock me into a bad situation. He obviously didn’t get the dismissive intent of my tone which should have clearly indicated to him that I didn’t want to discuss the issue and continued to pester me. “Dude,” he said, “the part of Georgia I live in is out in the country and there are at least 10 gyms near me. I’m sure that living up here in the Motor City you can find at least one gym that’s close to you and isn’t a shit hole.” That’s my brother-in-law. Always keeping it classy.
I was really uncomfortable and took the issue head-on and said that I really was slacking in making my own level of fitness a priority and that I would check out some more gyms near me that week so that I could start strong in the new year. I wasn’t just saying that either, I really intended to find all the gyms near me, go on a whirlwind tour, and make a decision. But, again, life took over.
This time it took the form of a college chemistry class. I’m trying to better my life by getting trained up for a change of career as a physician assistant. I already have a degree in psychology and have worked part time as a nurse’s aide for more than 5 years, so I’ve got some of the requirements to apply to the graduate program but I need to have some core science classes under my belt and chemistry with lab is one of them. I was not prepared for the intensity of this course and between taking this class and working I felt stressed out. The last thing on my mind was improving my bench press and back squat so my intention of checking out gyms near me fell by the wayside.
It was at this point, I think, that my entire life spun out of control. My lackadaisical attitude toward choosing one of the gyms near me as my haven of health began to have serious consequences. My weight gain was obvious and now my health began to show obvious warning signs. I went in to donate blood at the local Red Cross and when I stopped in for an appointment in March my blood pressure was up significantly at 140/92. Whenever I would go upstairs for anything my heart would race so I avoided simple things like carrying my kids upstairs when tucking them in at night. My dad, who signed up at one of those 24 hour fitness places (I think it was called Anytime Fitness) seemed to be doing better than I am and he’s 56 years old! Whenever I thought about the issue I would constantly see my brother-in-law’s jeering face chanting, “There’s at least 10 gyms near me so there’s gotta be one around here you can work out at!”
My self confidence level was at an all-time low and because I was in such poor shape my body was not in a position to adequately deal with the increased level of stress that was heaped on me at this time of my life. Work, school, family, and other commitments translated into me not getting enough sleep in addition to the lack of exercise. Being at a public University with large numbers of people in a cold winter climate means I was pretty much bathed in germs most days. It’s funny when I think about it because one of my major concerns of about joining one of the gyms near me was that I’d get sick because of being around so many people. Now I was in the same situation but worse because at least in a gym people are actively spraying stuff down to disinfect it and the people at least pretend to care about their health. No such luck at a college. All of these factors worked together to ensure that I was going to get sick. Not just a cold either. I ended up with a sinus infection that eventually blossomed into full-blown, lingering bronchitis.
Looking back it seems obvious to me that I was very foolish to skip out on finding a gym near me to sign up with. Once I became sick I pretty much hated my life. Key word being ‘hated’. I couldn’t enjoy time with my family and I hated school and work. My body was punishing me for my open neglect and life had no joy. My level of energy was so low that I found myself in a type of brain fog that prevented me from doing anything but just get through the day. Visiting any gyms near me was out of the question. They probably would have kicked me out because they would have thought I posed a health risk to the other members.
I was wallowing in self-pity as well. I blamed all the circumstances in my life for things getting to this point. I didn’t recognize my wife’s lack of intimacy as a result of my terrible disposition, but rather she was the problem because she was displaying a lack of support. It wasn’t my problem that things were stressful at my job, it was everyone else who simply refusing to pull their weight and always relied on me to do things for them. One day while driving in the car talking to myself I actually said that the people who run the gyms near me should have been hunting me down. After all, they were the ones looking for customers, right? Why do they have to wait for me to show up? Why didn’t one, not even ONE of the gyms near me send me something in the mail? Crazy, irrational thinking like this pretty much pervaded my life.
So, if you’ve read this far, I’m guessing that you’re asking whether or not I ended up being able to pull out of it. Did I ever sign up at one of the gyms near me? Did I ever start working out? Did my health improve? Did things get better or did my life explode into divorce, job loss, a heart attack, shatter relationships with kids, and the like? Well, I’m glad to say that none of these terrible things happened. My wife and I are still together and our relationship is stronger than ever. My kids, who were pretty much sheltered from the worse of my life funk, never really detached from me. I kept my grades high (thought I don’t know how) and am still going strong as a part-time student keeping a high average in school. But things could have gotten much, much worse.
Obviously, there were a lot of things that were wrong with the way I was approaching life. I can’t honestly say that not taking the time to visit a few gyms near me in order to get going as an active member ruined my life. That’s not true at all. But it was a major factor. Plain and simple, if your body is in poor health it’s because you’ve not invested the time and money to maintain it. It’s just the same as maintaining a house. If you let a house get run down, it’s going to start getting leaks and if something bigger starts to go wrong, like the sump pump going out in the basement, well then you might have bigger consequences. In my life, my failure to find a gym near me resulted in poor health and eventually a breakdown that led to an hard-to-kick sickness. For others, they let this go on for years and then end up with a heart attack. Same pattern of life just on an extended basis.
For me, the road to recovery and change started by signing up at Bodybuilding.com social networking site. It’s called “BodySpace” and has a lot of features which can’t be delved into here but, in short, it provides a virtual support network and a venue of inspiration. You see, for many adults it’s difficult to make friends and the friends we do make may not be at the same place in life and thus can’t be relied on to fill the role of workout support team. Bodyspace fills that gap.
While I was fat, sick, and out of shape as a whole I was constantly thinking about exercising. Really, I think that my brain was thinking about it so much that I somehow subconsciously had convinced myself that I WAS working out in a way. Obviously, since I’d never even visited the gyms near me, this wasn’t the case; yet somehow simply thinking about being in the gym all the time translated into filling the need to accomplish something. It’s the same thing with the MMO video games. People can’t actually accomplish anything in the real world so they turn to a fake one where they can glean “achievements” on a daily basis. This constant seeking of reward and recognition is a very powerful psychological drive and these game companies have found a way to allow people to tap into it and fulfill that need when they never really accomplish anything at all. I was doing the same thing. I was strong in my mind, but that’s about it.
My constant obsession with getting better, healthier, stronger, faster, better eventually pushed me to seek out fitness “stuff” online. I think it was me trying to live vicariously through the achievement of others or something. What ended up happening, though, is that I became inspired; inspired by the successes of others. I finally realized that it was my own failure to take responsibility for my life that had brought me so low. I needed to take action. A quick search showed that there were more than 20 gyms near me that were within a 10 minute drive. I printed off the page. It had the address and phone numbers of all the gyms in a convenient list. I had gotten through the worst of the bronchitis and only had the lingering cough so I couldn’t say I was too sick to go out. There were no more excuses.
So I told my wife that I was going to take the entire day, Saturday, and go visit each of the gyms near me on the list one-by-one. She was irritated with the person I had become and was like, “GOOD! I’ll watch the kids. Get your grumpy, mopey self out there and find a place to work out.” She’s always has a way with words. I actually came home an hour early on Wednesday and called all the gyms near me and asked if I needed an appointment to come check out their place. Most of them did not require an appointment and the ones that did were happy to pencil in a time for me to stop by.
I had originally intended to visit 10 different gyms near me that day, but didn’t make through the entire list before I found the place I knew was right for me. Each gym had something that really stood out. LA Fitness had a great basketball court, but I didn’t really see myself playing basketball and though they offered a lot of options, their free weight area was a bit sparse. This type of thing was repeated again at Life Time Fitness which had a very nice facility, but was built around treadmills and elliptical machines and not squat racks and cable machines. This was a prominent issue it seemed. Planet Fitness was the cheapest option but was pretty much the same way.
In the end I ended up going with a local Crossfit box. As soon as I stepped through the door I knew that it was the type of place that I could see myself consistently working out at. The people there obviously cared about being healthy. This was not the case at many of the gyms near me which seemed to be stocked full of a bunch of people who were just going through the motions. Crossfit was different. Crossfit was intense. Crossfit was a real challenge. I saw people doing things like pushing weighted sleds around the parking lot, doing Olympic lifts, going hard against a rowing machine, doing pull-ups and more. It was as different from the other gyms near me as night is from day. I signed up on the spot. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the place that I needed to be.
The first thing I did when I walked out the door was call my wife and told her, enthusiastically, that I’d found the right place. The next thing I did was call the other three gyms near me which I was supposed to visit that day for an appointment and canceled. Yeah, I felt a little bit bad, but I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that I had chosen the right place. Simply put, there were no other Crossfit gyms near me and none of the typically run gym were going to offer the type of fitness experience that Crossfit did, so what was the point in continuing the search?
Having taken a step in a positive direction, I felt very much empowered. Instead of driving home, I drove to the local sporting goods store and bought a bunch of workout clothes. Four full sets. I had to go up two sized from what I remembered, but instead of getting depressed like I would have a week before I felt inspired to fix myself so that I could fit back into my normal size again.
On the way home I drove past no less than three gyms near me that I’d not noticed before. You know how once you get a new car, say a blue Ford Fusion, you start to notice all the OTHER blue Ford Fusions driving around? It must have been the same thing because I honestly had never noticed the fact that there were so many gyms near me…and all in areas I frequented as our family would drive around doing “family stuff” on the weekends. Who knew?
In conclusion, I want to give you a few words of encouragement. I’m guessing that you’re here for a reason. You didn’t show up at this website because you were searching for an inspiring story. You showed up her because you’re mulling around the idea of signing up at a gym near you and are at the start of your journey.Let me offer a bit of advice. I’m not going to tell you to go with a Crossift gym because I love it and think it’s the cat’s meow. It’s true that the gym I go to is everything I had hoped it to be. There’s a sense of community and people see real results because the Crossift coaches know that intensity is the key to success in every area of life, but especially in fitness. I don’t think I would have been able to find that at any of the other gyms near me, but let’s put that all aside. The think that you need to do is to write down a goal.
Notice, I didn’t say “set a goal” but rather “write down a goal.” I think that this is where people go wrong. If you say to yourself, “I’m going to go check out a few gyms new me this weekend and sign up at one,” then it’s really just an idea, not a goal. Goals are written down. For me, the act of printing up the list of gyms near me was really the point of change. Something was on paper. I could hold it in my hands. I knew where to go. I suggest you do the same. Get a full-size sheet of paper right now and pen down, “I will visit 5 gyms this Saturday by 6pm” and then sign it. Now you have a goal. It’s measurable (5 gyms) it has a definite deadline (Saturday @ 5pm) and it’s written down.
Next, go ahead and punch your zip code or city into the search box at the top of this page. This will get you a list of all the gyms in the area that have a review set where people have submitted reviews. I didn’t do this myself when looking for gyms near me, but I got lucky. Don’t count on luck. Many people at the Crossfit gym where I work out have come from other places and tell me horror stories of how the staff has a poor attitude, or the equipment is always broken, or the place is dirty that it seems like they are running some kind of unsanctioned bioweapons development program. In any case, if I were looking to visit gyms near me today I would read the reviews first so that I could narrow down the list and only spend time at the gyms which are run properly.
Third, you want to call the gyms you’ve chosen to tour and see if you need to setup appointments. Many of the gyms near me did require an appointment (including the Crossfit gym I eventually joined), so you want to be prepared in advance so you don’t have a false start on your mission to find a new gym.
Finally, fulfill on your commitment. Your goal will help you accomplish this. Since you wrote your goal down on a BIG sheet of paper in BIG letters, you can take it and tape it to your front door. That way you’ll constantly be reminded throughout the week about what you’re going to be doing on Saturday (or whatever day of the week you decided to visit) so you can’t forget. Your mind will begin processing this on a subconscious level and even if your fallen into a pattern of laziness that has enveloped you like a stinking, sucking swamp bog, your mind will respond to the stimulus of seeing your goal on the front door and begin to charge your whole self – mind, body, and spirit – so that you can accomplish your goal.
Be sure to not let anything stand between you and your goal. Tell your spouse or significant other, “Look, I need to keep my schedule cleared for Saturday because I’m going to take a look at all the gyms near me and pick one out so that I can get my life back into a state of order and health, so don’t plan anything, alright?” Fill up your gas tank on Friday, get to bed early, and take a shower before you go to sleep. Do whatever you need to do in order to make sure you do what you’ve purposed to do.
You’ll hear a lot about how so many people start going to the gym in January but then slack off by February 1st. Quitting in the first month is so common that it’s expected in the fitness industry and I’m sure that the various gyms near me are no different. Yet the statistic would be even more devastating if we could only measure it would tell us how many people say to themselves they are going to get into a gym and get in shape but never even set foot in a health club. If you never begin, you can never succeed. Don’t be part of that statistic, whatever you do.