Finding a compatible gym or fitness program is very similar to dating. The search itself can be somewhat unfulfilling as you go on multiple “dates” without finding that “spark.” Your friends may recommend a new place that you visit with high hopes, only to walk away from a trial class disappointed and disenchanted. When it feels like all hope is lost and you’re bound to be a lifelong fitness nomad , you find THE place.
Life changes. Everything becomes exciting again! You want to shout from the rooftops about your love for your newfound home. Friends notice your social media posts become populated with workout selfies. You tell your family and friends of the magic of this new place, and how it has changed your outlook on fitness and in life. This feeling is magnetic and intoxicating! Hell, I’m getting excited just typing it out.
Soon, you settle into a happy pattern with your new gym. It becomes a regular part of your life. You may even start to take it for granted, as you’ve now completely forgotten about that lonely “lost” period you experienced.
You don’t immediately realize it…but the honeymoon period slowly begins to end. Not every class is as exciting as it used to be. The progress and PR’s aren’t coming as frequently as they did in your first six months. Maybe there’s a coach or a side group of members that you don’t exactly vibe with. You also begin to notice what your friends at other gyms are doing, and wonder if they’re happier than you. Around the 12 to 18-month mark, the thrill that comes with the newness of your gym has worn off. You feel as though it’s not as good as it used to be. Your familiarity with your home gym gradually starts to breed an inner contempt as the doubt creeps in. Are you as happy and as satisfied as you used to be? Have you settled for a place that is good enough, but not great? Could life be better at another place? Should you *gasp!* cheat on your gym?
The answer is yes. 100% YES.
If you’re relatively happy and have only experienced a shade of what I described above, the answer is still 100% YES.
Even if you’ve found the place for you, dip your toes in the waters of another gym.
It’s understandable if you don’t want to mess with a good thing; by no means am I suggesting abandoning your home gym. Many of us are programmed to be monogamous in multiple ways. Societal norms dictate that serious romantic relationships are exclusive. Most of the working world is built upon that concept too, otherwise you wouldn’t be discreetly printing off copies of your resume at the office with Mission: Impossible stealth. Ever walk a friend’s dog, and slink back home filled with guilt when your dog sniffs you and walks away in disgust? We’re sort of programmed to be…loyal.
But who says that gyms, trainers, and coaches have to be exclusive? If you are one of the fortunate who have found your fitness home, whether it be a gym or a trainer or a program, you are probably inclined to stay put. Why mess with success? Look at it from another perspective though: instead of trying to fix your current, stable situation — think of going to another gym as a way of strengthening your relationship with your fitness provider. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what appreciate about your gym when all of those positives become part of your routine. Stepping foot inside a new location forces you out of your normal patterns and can highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of your current regime. Perhaps you didn’t realize how good you have it at your own gym, and visiting a new place gives you a new appreciation for your home.
On the other hand, you may experience something you feel your gym lacks, and then (here’s the key part) share that feedback with your gym. A relationship with a coach and athlete is a two-way street, with feedback from both parties serving to the strengthen the relationship.
Working out in a new location also offers a new and valuable perspective on your fitness. Being in a new environment with a different exercise methodology can expose crucial holes in one’s fitness armor. This information is GOLD as it highlights a newly discovered weakness that you’ll be turning into a strength, right? Right.
But what about the risk of upsetting your coach or staff at your current gym? Any fitness professional worth their salt will not take this personally, as they should only want the best for you. I frequently encourage both my personal and group fitness clients to explore other avenues. I realize that my style may not be the best fit for everyone, but I am confident in what I do. If there is another avenue that would better serve a client, I would absolutely want them to explore it because my job is to lead others to improved health, regardless if those roads lead through me or not.
If you’re uncertain about exploring other gyms, trainers, and routines, ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?” Find a better place to take your business? Discover that next fitness challenge to keep you motivated? Gain a newfound appreciation for your current gym? Regardless of outcome, the end results are a net-positive for you. That’s a great thing.