In full transparency, I still occasionally have nightmares about the way the fitness industry used to be — especially around this time of year.
Dark, dingy gyms housed stacks of iron and steel. They featured front desks and back offices manned by sharky, fear-mongering meatheads. And yet, well-intentioned exercisers often found the courage to initiate membership in search of advice, wellness and most of all — hope.
This week, I am thinking about a few ways the industry has changed for the better, and I want to share a few tips about getting started on a new fitness program before the New Year rush.
Not all gyms in the 1980s and ’90s were poorly run and/or predatory. There also were great operators who felt a sense of mission and implemented practices that have helped the fitness industry grow, mature and become more service oriented. These visionaries understood that future fitness customers would have different expectations and require innovative solutions before parting with their hard-earned dollars.
Of course, fitness technology is its own industry, and streaming solutions peaked in popularity during the pandemic. But gyms will always have their place, and it’s great to see that a more mature, less sales-y approach can thrive.
For those in the market for a gym in 2023, I have a few key pieces of advice to help you narrow down choices.
First, the place needs to be within five minutes of your home or work — no exceptions. Anything more than five minutes away will challenge adherence, which is the key to any exercise program.
Second, match the gym to your interests — not the other way around. The industry has become so specific with niche studios that it’s now possible to have a curated experience that feels very personal. Indoor cycling, yoga, Pilates and stretching studios are the norm in any urban or suburban sprawl. Take advantage of that flexibility.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, always steer clear of long-term contracts.
The vast majority of the industry has moved to a month-to-month model, and any operator who hasn’t is kidding themselves. Using the monthly model, operators have to earn loyalty by communicating with their members regularly, engaging them, keeping up equipment and hygiene and helping members achieve results.
For those who do decide to take the plunge into a new fitness location, this week’s exercise is a great way to warm up the arms while surveying the landscape. The Barbell Forearm Rotation is simple but can really improve strength training performance with increased grip and wrist stability.
1. Select a very light weighted, straight barbell. The lightest weighted aerobics bar would be ideal.
2. Grasp the barbell with your right hand in the center.
3. Bend your right elbow to 90 degrees and hold the bar out in front of your right hip.
4. Slowly rotate the barbell clockwise as far as you can.
5. Reverse and rotate counterclockwise.
6. Perform five in each direction, then switch arms.
Most new (or old) fitness centers will have a few aerobics barbells lying around. If not, this one can just as easily be performed with a single dumbbell. It doesn’t present the same challenge from a leverage standpoint, but it will work in a pinch. Enjoy!
Director of business development and population health solutions for Quest Diagnostics, Matt Parrott began this column 20 years ago at Little Rock. He has a doctorate in education (sport studies), a master’s in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Print Headline: Forearm Rotation a good warmup at a new gym
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