Find the Gym that Works for You

DeShawn Fairbairn

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Brooklyn, New York, United States

Personal Training, Fencing, Karate


Progression often times comes with a change in location. We have a tendency to become comfortable with the familiar. As a coach and bodybuilder I have seen stagnation within my own physique when I’ve become comfortable with residing within the same gym for an extended period of time expecting a new result; call it insanity if you will.


This isn’t an opportunity to bash another gym or rouse discussion regarding the superiority of one gym over another. This article is meant to elucidate the idea of moving to another gym for the sake of growth. A hard decision to make for many.



The Impact of Location of Your Fix

This may sound like an allegory between drugs and the gym lifestyle, as paradoxical as that may seem, you would be right to assume so. In a study by Cordeiro, exercise-induced fatigue can be caused by dopamine and serotonin surges instead of physiological failure.


Her study showed that it isn’t as simple as a surge but the interplay between the two neurotransmitters during activity. Repetitive activity over time may dull these receptors.


The law of diminishing returns states that in order to achieve the same amount of product (in this case) within your home gym you’d most likely need to work twice or three times as hard compared to training in a new location. The “mental pump” equates to the “high” felt during a highly excited neuromuscular state for instance after a set of 21s for bicep curls or hitting a new PR on squat or bench press.


Find the Gym that Works for You - Fitness, physical culture, training partner, daily exercise, choosing a gym, commercial gyms, box gym


The “mental pump” usually is coupled with the physical one we experience after a great workout due to the positive interaction you have with the load you bore or the people you’re surrounded by.



For example, your previous gym environment may have rubberized weights but shifting to an all-iron gym will not only change the physical stress but as a byproduct, it will change the mental stress as your body adapts. The gym members in the new gym may admire you for the novelty of your presence and inquire about your own lifting journey.



Coupled with this adaptive and novel experience there is a case for the “reset"—an instance where your brain's biochemistry and your skeletal system breaks out from the dreaded “plateau” and your social skills mature to accommodate newer faces.


The Social Change

Attending a new gym will present itself with new initial social challenges. If you’re late into the resolution game, this will definitely apply to you. You will suddenly be around people who have established relationships and that can be awkward and uncomfortable to maneuver. I say, just dive in. I always suggest to new gym goers to enter the gym with your routine set and let the environment do its own thing.



After moving around a few gyms due to post-undergrad study, it was difficult for me to pinpoint my own groove—stumbling upon the all iron gym with a bodybuilder vibe, hearing the clanging of the weights, the fogging of the glass, yet not hearing the meathead grunts; replaced with encouraging words, resonated well with me. Fast forward today and I’ve found a great niche.


Finding Your Next Gym

The key hallmarks that I’ve learned over the years that make or break a new gym experience are the following:


  • Versatility and quality of equipment - For instance, your old gym had one or two benches a squat rack and a few free weights. The new gym has an array of machinery which is top of the line and well kept.
  • Impeccable customer service - Is it difficult to access your account, purchase products, sign up/cancel, ask for new equipment, or get something fixed?
  • Gym density - This includes the population demographic in the gym. Are there only young people? Are there avid gym goers or weekend warriors only? Are there troubled persons here? Is it a diverse ethnic population? Consider the atmospheric density (the vibe) you get when you step into the compound. Does it “feel” right?
  • Location, location, location - Is it convenient for you? Free parking? Transit system? Is there food? Is it in a remote location? Consider the proximity to work and school.


Individual concerns will arise and some will stem from leaving behind others and finding the equipment and times that best meet your needs. Here are some tips that can assist in the process without straining the move.


  • Peak hours versus quiet hours - Call the gym that you are interested in and ask about what their peak hours are. If you’re the introverted type and/or prefer to workout in near silence, get claustrophobic, germophobic, etc. then perhaps the quieter hours may appeal to you instead of going at the times closer to peak hours.
  • Friends forever - Leaving a gym doesn’t necessitate that your friendships die. In fact, it’s an opportunity to evaluate your training introspectively. Both you and your friend can meet up at each other’s respective gyms and learn about your new perspective paths. You can also create programming together via video chat or Google Drive.
  • Transitioning your gear - Find out how to rent a locker or ask where you can keep some of your belongings. In huge powerlifting gyms usually they have cubbies, corporate gyms usually have lockers, and some gyms allow you to keep things behind the desk or in a customer area similar to a coat check.


Learn the Rules

With a new gym comes new unspoken rules which may or may not be limited to:


  • Chalk use
  • Footwear
  • Dress code
  • Sanitation/hygiene
  • “Bullying” - This is Bulo’s chair (no one touches his chair).
  • Promotion/sales - Some gyms prohibit this and or have strict rules about self-promotion and marketing.
  • Photography/videos - Goes without saying.
  • Training - Some gyms have personal training departments others don’t, therefore be safe rather than sorry while training others in a gym with an established training department. It’s not only unfair to the staff but can be potentially troublesome, risking termination from that gym.


Keep It Simple

The life of a gym goer needn’t be hectic. The internet has a lot of information and it should be our goal to help each other out. The next time you’re inquiring about another gym, grab a buddy to help you out and have a wicked new adventure! Happy lifting my friends.

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