The Best Location to Train for Your Conditioning Goals in 2017

Hey folks, happy Tues!

Today’s topic is training location and resource management in your conditioning program.  I know what you’re thinking: “Training location?  Don’t you train at the gym?”  The answer may surprise you.  For my clients, the answer is……. “Some of the time.”  My clients will actually utilize several different locations during a week/month/year depending on their programming and lifestyle needs.

So, if not the gym, where do I train?  Well, the fact is that you can train practically anywhere.  Each location has advantages and disadvantages.  The considerations for each location are: the resources needed (equipment, space, support services) for your conditioning program, the resources needed for the location (time/money/mental energy/etc), what the location gives back to us and simply what we like most.

First, let’s take a look at each resource and what it means for us.

  1. Time/Proximity: if it takes more time to get to a location, change, train, shower, etc than we have to allocate, the location is moot as we will not be training at all for lack of time.
  2. Money: Some locations cost more than others.  Some gyms cost quite a bit and, if more than our monthly budget will not be able to be used.
  3. Needs of a program: If one is participating in a specific type of training (for example: Olympic lifting), then one needs certain equipment.  If a location does not provide this, then we cannot train here.
  4. Discipline and Environment: The more we enjoy a location, the less mental work it will take for us to do our conditioning.
  5. Space:  Our time to condition our bodies is, for most, a time to focus on ourselves.  If we are crowded, our attention will be drawn toward the crowd negating the benefit of internal focus we are trying to cultivate.
  6. Social:  To some, one benefit of a particular space is the interaction with a specific group of people.

Now, let’s take a look at each type of location and analyze the costs and benefits for each.

  1. Commercial Gyms:  These gyms can take time to get in and out of.  For space, especially with the 9-5 crowd, they can get crowded during certain times of day.  The expense can vary greatly.  The higher end luxury facilities can go for up to $200/mo and the lower end facilities $20/mo. For general programming needs, the equipment is usually pretty standard but is new and shiny.  For specific programming needs, you will need to shop around.  These can offer a mix of people for social interaction.  There is a variety of support services that some may like.  There commonly exists a sales culture in most of these that may turn some people off.
  2. Studios:  Great for social interaction.  The team mentality of some of the circuit based gyms and programs is great.  They are usually very specific toward training process, so are not very dynamic with respect to individual programming.  Even ‘personal training’ studios can lack variety for the standards of the equipment and personnel.  They are the most expensive option.  Time is dependent on the proximity to the user and the facility itself.   They can be spacious or not depending on the setup.  For discipline, they take the mental part down a bit as they usually provide an individualized or general program (again, depending on the focus of the facility) to the user.
  3. Neighborhood gyms.  These are usually great for social interaction (as they are in the community), easy on the wallet, have a somewhat of a team aspect, and take little time to get to.  They usually have a perfunctory, general, but usable set of equipment.  I find them less crowded and less sales/minded than large commercial facilities.  The drawback is the basic non-specific equipment for different styles of training.
  4. Home Training.  Can be expensive to set up.  But, after the upfront costs, will have only upkeep costs.  For time/proximity, these have obvious advantages.  Space is great as it is up to you and what you have available.  Most back yards, basements, garages, and extra rooms are adaptable.  Programming is up the the user, their equipment budget, and their needs vs. space available.  You won’t have very much in the way of strength machines for space concerns.  The drawbacks can be lack of social interaction and separation of ‘gym time and space’ from other life aspect such as working from home, kids, and household duties.
  5. Outdoor parks and facilities.  These are great for specific types of training (body weight, athleticism, functional training), fresh air, a connection with the outdoors, free space, and little to no expense.  However, it can be a challenge to create/develop a program and only fits with specific types of programs (no Olympic lifting here).  It can take a bit of discipline, could lack social interaction, and is weather dependent.

So, there you have it, folks.  Those are the considerations when looking at locations for your conditioning needs.  If you do an in-depth analysis in the very first stages of beginning a program of development, then you can avoid the location specific pitfalls and hurdles that will keep you from attaining your conditioning goals this year.

Have a great year and meet your health, function, and performance goals!

Jason Root, CSCS


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