Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
September 24, 2017
Back in the day, the very word “box” was considered a horrible word in my hometown of Tucson. When you think of the word box, you think of something bland, predictable and completely aware of itself. That is why some of the all time greatest philosophical ideals are based around boxes. “Thinking outside the box” and the philosophical conundrum of Schrödinger's Cat where one interpretation places a cat in a box and contemplating whether the cat is alive or dead. Anyway, people hated the idea of Big Box stores, which were cropping up everywhere and was turning Tucson into a bland version of Phoenix (land of the strip malls!). Walmart, Best Buy and Target were especially the biggest offenders, but ultimately capitalism won and now the city has way too many Walgreens, CVS’s and of course Walmarts. Needless to say, these buildings all lack character and are relatively the same on the interior. Commonality and consistency is key when you see these modern day monoliths. Over the years, the newest addition to that mindset has been the idea of box gyms. Now we are not talking about Crossfit, which calls their gym “boxes” in an attempt to sound hip and cool. We’re talking about the LA Fitness and Planet Fitness of the world. Tucson is kind of ground zero for the land of box gyms, and their predictability is quite prevalent.
Of course, I have had little exposure to the very idea of box gyms, mainly because I have been so spoiled by working out at Parson’s Training for so long. I did try a budding box gym franchise called Chuze last year, and did enjoy the nice equipment at the place. The trouble for me, it just didn’t fit my needs. That was why it was so shocking when I went on my vacation to see major gyms not only catering to my needs, but providing more than I ever could have asked for in a corporate gym. Truth be told, I never really thought there was a hierarchy in such a system, for you think of these places as nothing more than a maze of release forms and lawsuit proof equipment. That is why you have to take your fitness journey very seriously. Not all people are fortunate like me where we run into a pretty good gym and find a way to make it work in your life. The majority of the world needs to start off in a regular gym, and this is where you have to set yourself up for success. In the changing world we are living in, box gyms have seen some major competition from boutique gyms (places that specialize in one thing) and smaller private gyms. http://afterclass.classpass.com/how-big-box-gyms-stay-competitive-in-a-boutique-fitness-market/ Now, competition is always good in my eyes, but I personally have a few issues with these boutique gyms cropping up and charging an arm and a leg just so you can listen to a live DJ while you do your spin class. And here is why you would need a box gym (and thus justify the need for it)…..cost and the fact you are not completely fine tuned for a boutique. So yes, while a lot of people will call out places like Planet Fitness and 24-Hour Fitness lame due to the fact they have few free weights and mostly machines, they serve a purpose. Ultimately, people will upgrade and go to a better gym that provides for their evolving needs, but these starter gyms are useful. Personally, while some people are predicting these giant gyms will die out, I don’t see that happening. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/big-box-gyms-survive-next-10-years-greg-mccoy Considering what I have seen in other cities, big corporate gyms are upping the ante and allowing people to specialize in their own needs. Gold’s Gym while I was in Austin had a massive free weights area…but it also had a version of Crossfit as well that rivaled any Crossfit box. Lifetime Fitness in Denver not only had a huge free weight area, they also had nonstop boutique classes going off to the side that utilized ideas from TRX Training and Crossfit as well. I even accidentally walked into an Olympic weight lifting class (thankfully they were nice about, but I still showed everyone up in that class by outfitting them off to the side, haha). Adjustment will keep the viability of these gyms in check, just like Parsons Training offering an open gym package for those that want a more controlled and personalized workout experience.
Personally—due to all my misgivings about my body image—working out in a personalized gym like Parsons is the best fit for me, for I felt extremely uncomfortable and self conscious in the bigger gyms I tried out. This is just me, for I rarely look at fitness as buddy-buddy time (which means I never try to pick up women…..that’s another blog in itself). Needless to say, I always recommend you try a smaller gym first and use the bigger gym to supplement your workout lifestyle. I really state this for women, because trust me, every dude that will accost you is a former “personal trainer” in the guise of a pick-up artist. Same goes for men as well, for you might run into some bad influences who might coerce you into doing stuff that can hurt you. Yes, I make these big gyms seem like a fire trap with no sprinkler system, but they are not bad. You just have to keep one thing in mind…ultimately you will outgrow a certain gym. While I did like Chuze Fitness, especially since it is so close to my house, the lack of free weights will ultimately keep me away. Sure, I can use the place to watch sports on the weekend while I do some rowing or some cycling, but I want more out of my gym even if I am just using it to stay in shape. You have to look at choosing your box gym as a potential relationship. You may find one that is perfect for you and stay forever, but you may also find something that is better and gratefully move on.
Use this criteria when it comes to choosing your big box gym. 1.) Where am I in my fitness journey? 2.) Does it have a wide variety of classes I can actually utilize? and 3.) What kind of equipment does it have. Write these things down and answer the questions. If a place you like can answer them succinctly, then you have a winner. If you do not have the answers you need, just get on down to Parsons Training then. The main reason you should focus on a small gym? Well, not is much easier to hire a personal trainer and get the kind of work you need. While most box gyms also provide this service, it is hard to get consistency when you might have to compete with 20 other people for space and equipment. Either way, the choice is your!
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About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.