Now that we’re a couple weeks into the New Year, most of those who made the resolution to get in shape have found their gym of choice and are hopefully still going regularly, working hard to stick with those promises to lose pounds and feel good. For those late bloomers though, the question of which gym to choose might still be up in the air.
Women especially are faced with many choices, one among them being whether to try a women-only gym or stick with a traditional co-ed one like those that have been around for years. Much of the female population has probably already tried a Curves, a Slim and Tone, or any other locally owned all female gym in their area. Many others haven’t though, and it can be a tough decision. Much of what a woman will like more depends a lot on their workout style.
To touch on the difference between traditional and women-only gyms, the main difference is found in the title. Women-only gyms are just that. Members can only be female and the machines are geared more for a woman’s body. In these types of gyms, there is usually very little aerobic equipment. Instead, women are given a set amount of time to work each machine in a circuit, alternating with “rest pads” to help them keep their heart rate up. Some of these gyms do offer “rest” stations with more cardio friendly equipment. The overall point is to raise a woman’s muscle mass in order to burn more fat even when at a resting state.
Women-only gyms are perfect for the beginner and for the elderly. They help you start out slowly and work your way to being able to push the machines harder the more fit you get. For older women, the workout is the perfect level for them to get their heart rate up for the benefits while keeping them from overdoing it. The trainers are generally patient and compassionate and will make sure that a beginner learns to do everything correctly to avoid injury and get the most out of the workout.
These types of gyms are also geared to fit into a woman’s busy schedule. The workout is generally only a half hour long, three days a week. Most women-only gyms won’t discourage you from using it more than the three days, but they will tell you not to push the machines as hard every day in order to give your muscles a break. They are also ideal for women who tend to be self-conscious and shy. Not having the testosterone factor when it comes to exercise adds a great deal of comfort for a woman.
All of these characteristics make a women-only gym sound highly appealing, and for many, they are the perfect option. However, they’re not for everyone. With every pro that goes along with this kind of workout, there’s also a con.
First of all, women who are a little more advanced in their fitness routine will find that a women-only gym circuit lacks the challenge they’re looking for. Even machines pushed to their max won’t offer the resistance a well strengthened woman needs to get a good workout. In many cases, the gym itself discourages heavy aerobic exercise on the “rest pads”, a must for anyone in the advanced stages of their workout routine.
For those who like variety in their workout, a women-only gym will prove quickly boring. While the machines are switched around on a regular basis, the actual workout remains the same. Music is played, but the type rarely changes, and because this kind of workout relies on an automated voice telling the members when to switch stations, a personal music player is somewhat impractical.
Women-only gyms also appeal to the more social set. Many women find that a workout goes by much quicker when they can talk their way through it. For others though, talking isn’t preferred. Some women like to workout on their own, finding music or reading a magazine to be more motivating while they walk the treadmill or climb a stepper. For these women, the social atmosphere and constant chatter that can be found at many women-only gyms may only hinder their workout.
Then there’s the issue of cost. Depending on the area, women-only gyms may cost a bit more than local traditional gyms. There is generally a membership fee and a monthly cost that, in my experience, has always been around $30.00 a month. You generally sign a contract for a year and allow them to withdraw the monthly fees from a checking account, savings account, or credit card. Traditional gyms can range that high, but smaller ones have much lower costs. Both types offer different specials throughout the year, so if you’re shopping around, look for seasonal specials.
Your overall decision should be based on what you know you will stick with. If you like the comfort of being around women, being able to socialize and work at a slower pace without feeling like you have to compete with anyone, you’re more likely to stick to a women-only gym. If you get bored easily, prefer doing your own thing, and like to mix a lot of cardio into your workout, a traditional gym is definitely more your speed.