Does your workout suffer during peak seasons and rush hours at your gym? Most health clubs fill up during certain times like January, when new members are trying to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions, and after work, when commuters are squeezing in a session before taking the train home.
If you enjoy the extra hustle and bustle, it’s all good. On the other hand, if you’re tired of waiting in line for the treadmill, try these strategies for avoiding the crowds or learning to workout alongside them.
How to Avoid a Crowded Gym
1. Move outdoors. Exercising outside gives you a chance to admire the scenery and soak in natural light. You’re bound to feel more energetic and motivated. Plus, there are activities to match every season, like ice skating in winter or swimming in summer.
2. Head for home. Work out in the comfort of your own home. Install a home a gym or pick up a few pieces of simple equipment like a jump rope and kettlebells. Hire a personal trainer or watch exercise videos if you need instructions.
3. Drop by weekend mornings. Most gyms look a little lonely on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Wake up early and check exercising off your to do list before lunch.
4. Stay up late. Browse online to see if there’s a 24-hour gym in your neighborhood. As long as physical activity before bedtime doesn’t interfere with your sleep, you may prefer lifting weights during the night shift.
5. Leave for vacation. If you have vacation days stored up, use them to plan an active break. Instead of lolling around on the beach, go mountain climbing or volunteer to work on a construction project in Latin America. You’ll return home with new skills as well as a tan.
6. Look for flexible work. If your boss agrees, you may be able to hit the gym while everyone else is stuck behind their desk. Ask about flextime arrangements that could give you a day off in the middle of the week in return for working longer hours on other days. See if you can take a longer lunch hour as long as you make up the hours.
How to Deal with a Crowded Gym
1. Take a group class. Reserve your spot by signing up for Pilates or CrossFit. The music and camaraderie may help you to burn more calories with less effort.
2. Share the equipment. Bodybuilders have a tradition of asking to work in. Partner with someone so one of you uses the barbells or the abs machine while the other one rests between sets.
3. Eliminate rest periods. Then again, you may want to cut out the downtime altogether. Instead of trying to find a bench to sit on until you’re ready for your next shoulder press, rotate between exercises that target different body parts so you complete your workout faster.
4. Increase the intensity. Another way to spend less time dealing with crowds is to increase the speed or amount of resistance. You can be out the door in half the time.
5. Try something new. Observe your surroundings or ask the gym instructors about which equipment seems less popular. You may find that you love the rowing machine that most members have been ignoring.
6. Be more flexible. Navigating a crowded gym usually comes down to thinking creatively. Be open to experimenting instead of sticking to a rigid routine.
You can have a great workout even when the gym is jam-packed. Adjust your timing to avoid the crowds or plan a routine that keeps you moving when the line for the treadmill is standing still.