Another 1.8lbs down was a really nice surprise. As I mentioned last week, I was thinking I’d have a bit of gain this week. One of my favourite diet-misunderstandings is that muscle is heavier that fat. Muscle is denser than fat but usually the initial gain when jumping back into activity after a lull is a bit of water retention.

Usually I do a what worked – what needs work theme on these posts but I’ve had a couple of conversations with friends this week who were getting into new fall sports or starting new classes and I want to talk a bit about picking a gym or activity that works for you.

Since I was in college I’ve been a member at one gym or another. I like the freedom to come and go as my schedule allows, the variety of equipment and classes, (so I don’t get bored) and I like that there is always someone around to ask if I need pointers or want help. Also, a steady monthly fee is easy for me to work into my budget. Some sports are cheaper but getting slammed with the full fees and equipment expenses once or twice a year can be inconvenient if my car happens to be acting up at the same time.

Everyone is different and has different fitness/activity needs, however there are a few common factors across the board worth addressing.

Convenience, is probably a good place to start. Personally, I can validate just about any excuse to weasel out of a work out, so this is a big one for me. Whatever you decide to take on, it has to be easy to get to and from, fit into your work/life schedule and budget. When we moved, I had planned on staying with my old gym. They have franchises all over the country, their rates are reasonable and I liked the people. When we got here, the nearest location to my house wasn’t far but it was a pain to get to because of all the road construction that took over the province this year. So I had a look at another gym closer to my house and I’m really glad I did. They gave me a better monthly rate, had a bigger facility with a wider variety of classes, more times during the day and a pool! So no matter what, I can get there any time for almost any activity I want. The only disadvantage was that it’s a smaller franchise so if I’m out of town I can’t just drop into another location. (But let’s face it, if I’m on vacation odds are I’ll be found face-down at a buffet rather than at the gym anyway, so it wasn’t a deal breaker.) I have a friend who practically lives on her bike. It’s not only exercise, it’s her mode of transportation which makes it a great fit. I know other people who take Spinning, Yoga or Tai Chi classes because having a specific time slot booked every week allows them to schedule busy lives around activity. Some of the guys I used to work with simply hooked up at lunch hour for shinny hockey or touch football.

Interest is another big card in the deck. I have the attention span of a caffeinated humming bird so variety is a big player for me but so are milestones. I spent most of this year working up to doing the 10km run so I had something to focus on during endless hours on the treadmill. Now that I don’t have that goal, I have about fifteen minutes before “bored now” kicks in and I’m not motivated to finish or push as hard as I could, so I’ve been taking classes. It’s a change of pace and new skills so the challenge keeps my interest. For some people it’s the game or commitment to the team that keeps them involved. For others it’s about getting outside, a little peace or stress release and sometimes you just wanna rock out so a new play list will do the trick. The mind is one of our biggest muscles and it really helps to keep it engaged.

Socialization is the last point. I’ve been very lucky when it comes to coaches, teachers and trainers. (Heck, I write comics about them!) I actually really miss the girls at my old gym, they were fun, motivational and communicated instructions very clearly. Other than the original Fiona and Trish the one who sticks out most in my mind was Claudia who did the body-combat class. I’ve tried a bunch since, and I like interval boxing, but I haven’t found a class that was as much fun and challenging as Claudia’s. The people at my new gym are great. Scott is the trainer who does my fitness assessments. He’s really nice, motivated and smiles A LOT. In fact, I may just start referring to him as Scott Smilesalot. Which is not a criticism, I appreciate the enthusiasm. There’s nothing worse than a lousy instructor, if you feel disrespected, condescension or left behind you’re in the wrong place with the wrong trainer and I say move on. Same thing goes with team sports or group activities. If you’re not in a group with complimentary personalities and boundaries, it’s no fun at all. Conversely, I’ve stuck it out in sports I don’t love just because the people were so much fun I’d look forward to the game all week.

The only other thing I can think of that requires factoring the same levels of  convenience, expense, interest and socialization, is picking where to go for beer and pizza after.