When people think of fitness facilities, they imagine a bunch of thin beautiful people wearing expensive workout clothes.

In reality, people of all shapes and sizes join gyms. Each gym will have a different “feel” and philosophy.

It is important to spend some time to make sure that it will be a place that you will feel comfortable and welcomed. Look for a gym that is about more than fitness – it is a way of life; one that strives to provide a positive, safe, fun, and challenging environment that promotes health, fitness, well being, and community. Gyms should respect all who choose to walk through the doors – regardless of the reason. A great gym will promise to offer the highest quality programing, coaching, equipment, and standard that will help you to achieve your goals.

Do you find gyms intimidating?

Gyms are a fantastic way to lose weight, stay fit, gain strength, and have fun. Gyms can help you achieve your health and weight goals. Experts at the facility will educate you about nutrition and wellness as well as “working out.” All of these elements go hand in hand to have a truly healthy and fit “you.” Go to the facility and watch – watch how athletes interact with each other (if at all) and watch how coaches and trainers interact with their athletes. Your first step in getting started is walking through the door.

A good workout releases endorphins, which improve mood and fight stress. Exercise also increases energy levels and improves sleep. Building muscle helps you burn calories more effectively. Consistent workouts lower blood pressure, while reducing the risk of some types of cancer, osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes.

Many people have a hard time forming good fitness habits. Fitness regimens can be difficult to maintain. We often create excuses or our schedule simply doesn’t permit time to exercise. It can be hard to stay motivated. But when you have exhausted all of your excuses and a healthier lifestyle becomes a priority, then finding a gym is a fantastic first step on the path toward a happier and healthier life. This is another reason it is so important to join a gym where you feel like you are part of a team and you “fit." If you don’t feel welcomed it is almost guaranteed that you will not continue your fitness. Fitness is not a journey that you have to take on your own. If you’re bored – look for some place different.

Paying for membership increases your chances of working out. It is harder to form excuses to skip exercise when you’re paying for it whether you go or not. Becoming a member is a great opportunity to meet people with similar health goals who can offer motivation and support. Not all gyms require a one year membership. Some gyms allow month to month so the stress of being able to commit to a one year membership isn’t a problem. You can give it a try and if you don’t like it – you are free to look at other options in the community.

Coaches can be especially helpful when you need instruction on various movements and workouts so that you see personal gains to help achieve your goals while staying safe in the work out environment. Coaches will help you scale movements or workouts so that they are appropriate for your fitness and ability level. If you have health restrictions such as joint pain, low-impact and scaled work outs are available.

When choosing a gym, remember your future goals and the atmosphere that you want to be part of. Whether you opt for a CrossFit gym or a traditional gym – your aim should be to improve both physically and mentally, take steps towards your goals, and be a happier, healthier, stronger you!