Before you pay up and commit, I’ve tried out a few gyms for you

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I probably don’t need to sell you on the benefits of exercise, and especially don’t need to convince you of the benefits of a good sale. So whether or not you’re all about making New Year’s resolutions, if you’re looking to get rid of a little bit of squish, this is definitely a great time of year to join a gym when they’re handing out deals and discounts like candy. (Which incidentally, eating less candy is also one of my New Year’s resolutions…)

Deciding on a gym can be an intimidating and overwhelming task. You don’t want to fork up a chunk of your paycheck each month and then only actually enter the gym three times out of the year. I have sweated my way through quite a few gyms trying to find one that resonates and hope I can pass along my experiences to help you find the perfect fit before you hand over your life savings or agree to surrender your first born signing up for a membership.

The list of studios and gyms you can join are extensive, but I’ll focus on the ones you’re most likely familiar with but perhaps resisted because you thought you didn’t have the right stretchy pants or simply didn’t want to commit to something you’ve never tried before. The fun four: CorePower Yoga, Title Boxing, Fit Body Boot Camp, and Snap Fitness.

For each of these gyms you’re able to try a free class or even a free week to test out whether it’s an immediate, “Yes! Sign me up!” or a visceral, “Please! Never again!” I highly recommend trying each place if not simply for a one-time free workout.

CorePower Yoga

I had already played out in my mind most of the scenarios I was expecting to encounter walking into my first yoga class. Of all my worries from the accidental fart to falling on my face, the only one that came to fruition was that it was ridiculously hot in the studio: Just sitting in the room I broke out in a sweat. Everyone was exceptionally kind and welcoming and no one asked me to attempt a headstand (that would have been a sight indeed). I tried a variety of classes during my free week ranging from their beginning C1 class to their more difficult Sculpt class. And yes, I survived them all never having done yoga before.

In each class you can move at your own pace and adjust to your own ability. I was by no means the most flexible or graceful executing the moves, but received a great whole body workout I would never have achieved on a treadmill. Each of the instructors are great teachers and lead the class in their own way giving clear instructions so it’s easy to pick up the different poses and moves.

Title Boxing

If I thought yoga was something new, then boxing was like a foreign language. Going in for my first class I knew nothing about the sport except that it’d be cool to say I knew some fight moves. Walking in you could feel the energy with the music booming as everyone chose a punching bag from the forest of them swinging from the ceiling. The staff helped me wrap my hands, put on my gloves, and before I knew it, the hour-long class had flown by. I had no doubt I was going to be sore the next day, but during the class I barely realized how hard I was working. I was so completely focused on learning how to properly throw a hook and a jab that it ceased to feel like a workout. (Not to mention you punch out all your frustrations.)

Each hour class begins with a 15 minute warm-up, followed by 8 rounds of boxing (hitting a bag, not sparring), and ends with 15 minutes of a core workout. If you’re new, the instructors will teach you the basic moves and help you throughout the class. I did end up joining Title Boxing for a while as I loved the workout it gave me while learning new boxing combinations and techniques. And frankly, there’s no way you don’t feel powerful and like you can take on anything while wearing boxing gloves.

Fit Body Boot Camp

If you’re looking for a true workout family this is the place to go: I remember my surprise when they were able to call me by name by the end of the class. This gym is all about personalizing the workout to fit your goals, whether it be strengthening, weight-loss, agility, etc. They also adjust the workouts to meet your your abilities, and devise a nutrition plan specific for you to follow. It felt like I had a personal trainer. The workouts themselves were a challenging, 30 minutes of high intensity exercise which changed each day, so I was never bored.

Fit Body also offers different fitness challenges that range from twenty-one days to six weeks to three months, which kickstart you on your way to achieving your goals. With these challenges, a trainer will coach you along the way taking your measurements, helping you with nutrition, and even texting you words of encouragement outside the workouts. For better or worse, it’s hard to slink out early or miss a session because your coaches and other workout buddies will be on your case and keep you accountable.

Snap Fitness

Whelp, it’s pretty much your standard gym. You’ll have the classics like treadmills, ellipticals, and weight machines. Snap is great because it’s open at all hours, has a ton of locations, and is quite affordable. Motivation sometimes strikes at odd hours and I was happy to be able to go to Snap in the middle of the night and have the place all to myself where I could try out each machine without a shred of embarrassment. Though Snap Fitness does offer personal trainers that can help you navigate the equipment and set you up with a fitness regime, compared to the other gyms, I did notice that I never quite pushed myself as much and the workouts were never entirely as effective. But, hey, it still got me moving.

Hopefully my experiences can help ease some concerns or irrational worries that might keep you from trying something new. You just might find you have a hidden yoga talent or a knack for kickboxing. Find what moves you. You can also try a ClassPass membership which enables you to try out a variety of classes from cycling to martial arts at various participating studios. Though for me, I think next I’m going to try my luck with Zumba.

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Lauren is a filmmaker and writer. She loves capturing and sharing Minnesotans’ unique stories. And when not behind the camera, she’s always on an adventure traveling, exploring new bike trails, and subjecting her friends to taste testing her latest baking experiments.