Though many people joke about co-ed gyms being frequented by meatheads, it's not a surprise that many health clubs are more akin to a "meat market" than a fitness facility. "After hitting the gyms in Los Angeles and feeling like I was in a nightclub scene rather than a gym, I figured that there are probably thousands of other women in this city who feel the exact same way," says Holly Holton, a certified personal trainer who was inspired by the unsavory gym disco scene to open the women's fitness center Pink Iron. "I wanted to build a place where women could get an amazing workout and sweat without having creepy guys drool on them."
How many times have you felt the urge to apply makeup on your way to the gym because you don't want to "look your worst" while you work out? When you get to the gym, do you bee-line to the first unoccupied cardio machine because you feel self-conscious despite the lipstick and mascara? Working out should not be this uncomfortable -- it's no wonder you opt to skip your workouts. A women's only facility alleviates the tendency towards intimidation and gives you the freedom to really exercise and get fit.
"I think the No. 1 advantage [of women's only facilities is] that women are more likely to explore and try new things," says Holton, who is well versed in a wide range of exercise modalities. "Instead of heading straight to the treadmill, they will be more comfortable venturing out into the weight room and trying machines that they've never used. This way they get a better and more well-rounded workout."
Just because you'd rather avoid the co-ed scene does not mean you want to go to a soft-sided women's only gym with a max of 10-pound weights. Pink Iron, for instance, caters towards all fitness levels, including the women who are very serious about exercise but still like being women. "We're a hard core gym wrapped in a pretty package," explains Holton. "We have iron plates, but they're pink, and we have heavy dumbbells but they have hearts on them."
Holton says her staff of female personal trainers also give women an edge in getting in shape because her trainers deeply understand the psychological connection between a woman's body and her happiness. To help women reach their fitness goals -- and have a great time doing it -- Pink Iron's approach to personal training makes women feel part of a family.
"We're revolutionizing the way that personal training studios train clients," says the admitted fitness junkie. "We've split our staff up into two teams: the Pink Team and the Iron Team. When you become a Pink Iron personal training client, you're placed on a team and now have a group of trainers supporting and encouraging you. We also have ongoing fitness challenges between the two teams." This friendly competition and being a part of a like-minded group keeps women committed to their health and fitness. "It's kind of like the Biggest Loser except you don't have to cry on TV," jokes Holton.
The popularity of women's gyms has launched a number of facilities around the country. However, not all women's only fitness centers are created equal. Holton suggests finding a place that offers an effective and enjoyable balance of comfort and utility. "Women should look for a place that they feel comfortable in and that will give them support, but also a place that will challenge them to set goals and keep them accountable to achieving them," the fitness expert explains. "We all need a little push sometimes, so a gym that isn't afraid to do that for their clients is a great thing. It means they really care."
At Pink Iron, new members are given a complimentary fitness consultation with Holton that covers a member's fitness goals, commitment level, and the Pink Iron program. When members meet with a personal trainer for the first time, the trainer does full body composition and postural analyses, takes measurements and photographs to use as a benchmark for progress, and then devises a fitness program to meet a member's health and fitness goals as well as correct muscular imbalances or weaknesses.
Once you join a women's only facility, commit to get the most out of your membership. Not only will it make your workout time more effective, it will also make your visits to the gym much more enjoyable. "For anyone who isn't familiar with the gym equipment, I definitely recommend setting up an appointment with a personal trainer at least once a month to get a fitness assessment, learn how to properly use the equipment, and learn some new exercises," concludes Holton.
Don't let your membership to a co-ed gym hold you back from achieving your health and fitness goals. Join a women's only fitness facility and get the body you've always wanted without the self-consciousness and intimidation of working out with men.
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