Fitness 5: Join A Gym

A great way to get fitter

By Roger Childs

Gyms are great places to increase your fitness and extend your boundaries. There was a time when gyms were seen as the preserve of strong, muscular men and svelte, fit young women in lycra.

However, these days there are people of all shapes, sizes and ages there and an increasing number of retired folk.

Obviously there is a cost to belong, but if you want plenty of options to improve your health, well-being and fitness, being part of a gym is money well spent.

Most gyms will allow you to try them out for nothing, so you have a chance without obligation, to see if it’s your thing.

Getting advice

When you join a gym you will get help from the staff. An initial orientation programme will usually be part of the deal.

Beyond that you can employ a personal trainer to set up a fitness programme for you and monitor your progress.

The advantage of having a good personal trainer is that you get expert advice and have a motivator to keep you going.

However, once you’ve got into the swing of things and experimented with the enormous range of equipment, you may be happy to settle into your own routine.

You will also get to know people who are regulars and they can give you good tips on particular machines and equipment.


The bigger gyms offer classes, which range from Zumba and yoga to riding and stretching sessions. There will be pamphlets available to tell what the different classes involve and how they can get you fitter.

People are sometimes embarrassed about joining classes, because they think they will stand out and look foolish.  However everybody was a “first timer” once and you can always start down the back where no-one can see you!

The instructors are always very helpful, and you can talk to them individually before or after class to get advice.

Like all the other equipment and machines, you can try classes out and see what’s right for you.

Plenty of options

Once you join up the sky’s the limit. You can

  • go as often as you like
  • do as many classes as you want
  • access whatever equipment you want to use
  • take advantage of personal trainer advice and expertise.

You can walk, run, ride, row, dance, use a Swiss ball, lift weights, employ resistance machines, stretch, plank, meditate … you name it.

At gyms you meet a lot of interesting people who can help you and become friends. And, be aware that when they’re in the place, members are focusing on their own routines and are not staring at what you are doing!

Nevertheless, if you want advice, people are invariably happy to share.