Don't let the wrong gym derail the right intentions

You need to be held accountable by a trainer, it’s not all about joining somewhere with the best equipment.

FOR MANY, JANUARY is a time to shoot for new goals. And 90% of these goals tend to be health and fitness related.

They include: completing dry January, signing up to a local gym, losing weight, improving your fitness or even entering a big challenge like the Dublin marathon.

However, at least 50% of this crowd will fall off the wagon and go back to old ways within four to six weeks.

One of the major reasons for this is because people go down the wrong avenue.

You chose the wrong gym, perhaps fell for the so-called cheaper option, had little to no guidance on your fitness journey, became bored and eventually turned your gym trip into a chore.

I’m not the biggest fan of most commercial chain gyms. I’ve worked in them for years and I’ve seen how the majority of them operate.

You are just another number in these gyms and you, and your progress, are not being monitored.

Perhaps you’ve had that experience within the last four weeks and you have already found yourself bored and lost with your current gym routine. You want to push your training onwards on upwards for 2016 but you’re not too sure who to listen to.

Ireland is now full of personal training gyms, small gyms, boxes, clubs, studios, training academies and fit clubs. They range in size and in terms of their equipment quality.

Choose wisely

Choose your training venue wisely. Don’t assume they are good just because they are affiliated with a certain franchise with all the fancy trappings. Having saunas, jacuzzis, flashy spin bikes and treadmills with built-in TVs may not be the best option when it comes to your goal of looking and feeling better.

Let’s look at CrossFit, for example. There are now more than 60 boxes (that’s a gym in CrossFit terminology and there are a hell of a lot of terms in this community) in Ireland. Some are great and some not so great.

Every gym is different. Just like there are good and bad restaurants, mechanics and physios, there are a lot of good and bad gyms out there.

I have worked in a variety of different gyms and have had the experience of visiting hundreds worldwide from Golds gym, Reebok HQ Fifth Avenue, CF Barcelona, Total Fitness, Peak 360 Miami and plenty of others.

Consider these tips before deciding where to train.

 1. Owners/coaching staff

The owner/coach should drive the culture of the gym. They should show passion for their job, be professional on all levels, bring energy to the session, motivate clients when days are low, know all of their clients’ goals and ensure that those goals are achieved.

In my opinion, a good coach is someone who has been immersed in the industry all of their life and learned their trade. It should be someone who lives for health and fitness, trains daily, eats right and leads from the top.

The best coaches out there are always improving themselves, educating themselves, and maintaining high standards for the movements they are training. And they keep their clients accountable.

A colleague once asked me, “Would you let that trainer train your mother?” And that’s something that struck a chord.

2. Programming & coaching

Different people have different goals. Some of us want to perform better and bring fitness to a competitive level yet some people train to look, move and feel better for health reasons.

Programming is vital. A gym program that features mobility work, strength work and constant stimulus variation of conditioning workouts is a good start.

Mobility work needs to be personal as different people have different weaknesses. Strength training should be all done under a percentage format so that it’s relative to that person’s base. And as for the conditioning, there needs to be a reason behind the workout, not just fancy movements thrown together to make the client sweat.

Your program should be catered to your goal, your body, your training age, your strengths and your weaknesses.

Don’t be afraid to ask your coach about the reason for the structure of your training sessions.

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Any trainer can make you sweat with a tough workout but it’s the top trainers who have a method to the madness and who will get the results.

3. Little things

It’s the little things that also make a good facility or trainer stand out. Are the owners/coaches constantly putting money back into the business?

Perhaps they need to buy equipment. Have they noticed that classes are starting to get overcrowded? Is it safe?

Having said that about equipment, it’s important not to assume that a gym is great just because they have the best of equipment. Some of the best coaches in the world operate out of simple set ups.

Community in a gym is important too. It’s nice to be part of a gym that has built up a good community and is a place where you don’t feel intimidated.

It should be a place that you enjoy going to. It’s a place where you mean something and should be held accountable.

That’s one of the biggest things I hear from my clients — they know I have spent a lot of time working on their program plus they don’t want to let the others down in the small group sessions that they are attending. That way, they really motivate each other.


Don’t sign up for a place just because they are under a brand, have the lowest price, best equipment and a huge presence on social media.

Try a few different gyms before deciding where you want to train.

Find a coach who is particular about technique, has a good pedigree and has a proven track record of getting results.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Rathfarnham and recently featured on The42 as the trainer of Ciarán Burns, who has lost almost nine stone in 10 months. You can read his blog here

For more information, you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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