This one is for all the women out there, sorry boys.
Now, we all want to look and feel our best, right? And we all know that there is no magical cure for weight loss, and that it simply comes down to moving more and eating healthily, but this is often much easier said than done.
One tool at our disposable are gyms, but I know this option can be daunting for some females and once you are locked into a contract it's almost impossible to get out. So I'm here to help you choose the most female friendly option suited to you. I'm somebody who gets bored quickly with a lot of things, including exercise so I'm constantly moving around and trying new things especially gyms and now I can share my inside information with you all.
Curves is a female only gym which prides itself on its 30 minute workout. In and out in 30 minutes? Sounds pretty good to me. Curves offers a circuit training area with around 15 machines and 15 recovery boards placed in a large circle. You spent 30 seconds on each machine and recovery board and go around the circuit twice. The machines are resistance machines which mean they work against your own body weight - one of the most effective types of strength training. You can go as hard or as easy as you want. The same is relevant for the recovery boards; you can jog, walk on the spot or even do star jumps.
If you want to electronically track your progress you can get involved with Curves Smart which is an electronic tag that you plug into each machine and it counts your repetition and range of motion. An orange blinking light means you are not working out to your full potential, whilst the green means you are in the zone. At the end of your workout you plug your tag into a computer and it calculates which muscles you used the most and how many calories you lost. It also changes as per your progress so will get harder or easier depending on how hard you work.
Curves also offers zumba for an extra $2 per session. In this workout you are on each machine for one minute and then you are zumbaring for one minute . This is more intense and a nice change from your usual workout.
Curves is a social gym and you will soon start to recognise fellow gym goers. One of the staff usually stands in the middle of the circuit to help correct your technique and generally have a chat about anything and everything. It's a good place to make friends.
One thing about Curves are its opening hours, each gym is different but they are usually open for 5 hours in the morning from 6am and 3 hours in the afternoon from 4pm but are shut in the middle of the day and closed on Sunday. You can come in and start your workout at anytime as long as it is 30 minutes before closing. Zumba however is at set times which you need to book in for and you are unable to do a normal workout while zumba is on. Another thing is that each gym usually has one bathroom and no showers so you would need to go home to shower after your workout before going out or continuing on to work.
Contours is much like curves as it is a female only gym that offers a circuit type of training. Contours however beat Curves by one minute boasting only a 29 minute workout. At Contours you warm up on an exercise bike before hitting the machines and recovery boards which are also set in a circle. The machines however have weights on them which you need to set. On your first visit to Contours your trainer will assure that you are using the right weight for your fitness level. The weights are colour coded which makes it easier to remember. A staff member stands inside the circle on their own recovery board and you are encouraged to mimic their exercise moves, whilst on your own recovery board between machines. This makes the workout harder, more effective and you feel accomplished by the end of your 29 minutes.
Contours is open slightly longer hours than Curves but still shuts in the middle of the day and on Sunday. Contours also offers zumba but doesn't incorporate it with the machines. It is a standalone hour of zumba which costs $12 per class on top of membership. Some Contours also offer pilates classes or daily walks around the neighbourhood to compliment your exercise routine. Again, Contours has limited bathroom facilities and no showers at your disposable.
Both of these female only gyms stress the importance of stretching after a workout and offer a monthly weigh and measure as part of your membership which keeps you on track and motivated.
When you think of gyms you probably think of Fitness First. You see the backpacks, water bottles and representatives everywhere. It's kind of hard to ignore. I personally found fitness first too busy. First of all it is unisex and the type of people that frequent fitness first are buff boys that always seem to be checking themselves out in the mirror and super trim and fit ladies which make you feel frumpy. There are plenty of machines around, however at certain times you need to wait to use them which I wasn't a fan of. The exercise classes are always packed to the brim which obstructs your view of the instructor and generally makes a wide range of motion impossible. I'm sure there are some pluses for this gym (possibly eye candy? Definitely extended opening hours) but I didn't stick around long enough to try and find most of them.
Some Fitness First gyms do have a pool as well so they do technically offer a great range of exercise options. This is just your typical gym; I highly recommend getting a guest pass to this gym before locking yourself into anything. Who knows, you might love it.
Body Health Fitness Centre is a family owned and operated business situated in Oatley. This I am a fan of. It has the latest cardio equipment, a ladies only weight room, child minding, fantastic classes which are never overcrowded, and instructors with a friendly disposition. It is a unisex gym but I never felt uncomfortable about this maybe because all the people that would make me feel like that go to Fitness First?
They are open from 6am most days till 9pm, Sunday they have limited opening hours but still have classes on in that time if you wish to partake. Body Health also offers personal training for a reasonable price and every time you walk through the door it's like coming home. There are shower and toilet facilities available also.
Fernwood is a cross between Curves/Contours and Fitness First/Body Health as it is a female only gym but with cardio and strength equipment as well as classes, child minding and personal training. The all female environment means no pressure which is fantastic.
The bathrooms are equipped with hair dryers, hair spray, cotton buds and a sauna so definitely cover all the important things. There are plenty of toilet and shower facilities so you can go out straight from a workout which is convenient.
The classes are lead by qualified instructors, not overcrowded and the staff are nice and approachable. Their spin class room is decked out with murals on the wall that depict a bright lighted city which looks pretty cool if nothing else.
The main difference between this gym and Contours/Curves is that it's up to you which part of your body you want to work or which exercise machine you want to use. At Contours/Curves because it is a circuit, it's exercise made easy with minimal thinking required which is good therapy at the end of a long hard day. Soon enough though, you will get into your own rhythm at Fernwood and another plus is that if you workout in the morning they give you breaky!
Last but definitely not least is the great outdoors, okay, sure it's not technically a gym, but you can get a damn good workout and clear the mind at the same time. Surely that sounds tempting?
Your local park is full of potential exercise. Interval training is a great way to stay motivated and keep in shape. This requires different exercises to get the heart rate up and little breaks in between so your heart rate doesn't get used to a particular level and needs to work harder to keep up.
Stairs are perfect for getting your heart rate up. Stair runs sound daunting but once you've run to the top and back down 10 times you can't help but feel proud of yourself. Hill sprints are another great way to get that heart pumping. Once you feel the wind in your hair and the sweat on your forehead you will be motivated to keep going.
Park Benches are fantastic for steps ups and arm work. Some parks even have outside gyms that you can use for push ups, sit ups and basically anything else. Running the lines of a tennis court is also good for interval raining. Alternate running with walking and sprinting to trick your body and make it work harder for you.
Walking is also great for weight loss; perhaps go walking at sunrise or sunset so you have the view to motivate you. Or go for a bushwalk, there is plenty of scenery to take in and the fresh air will do you good. The weather may be your enemy depending on how focussed you are whilst training in the great outdoors, but you can always workout in your home as well. Grab the soup cans and pump those arms, the possibilities are endless.
If money wasn't an issue we would all go out today and just get lypo or a personal trainer and nutritionist, but unfortunately it is. Price does play an important role when choosing a gym but ultimately you have to feel motivated to go there and comfortable while training. Each of these gyms offer different joining packages depending on whether you are a student, senior citizen, or everyday customer.
They often have specials on at different times of year and can usually do you a deal of some sort so simply ask and you will receive. Compare your own local gyms prices, locations and facilities and you're sure to snag a winner and a banging bod to go with it.
So ladies, I hope this helps you in your decision about which gym to join and remember guest passes are your friend and available on most gym websites.