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Fitness Articles  ›  Pitfalls and Plateaus

Beat the Crowds at the Gym

9 Ways to Wait Less and Work Out More

-- By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
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Avoid prime time. Stay away during the late morning and early evening hours if possible. Obviously, this is the most convenient workout time for most people. Take a closer look at your schedule and see if you can find a better time. Could you take a longer or even a later lunch and use it as your workout time? Can you go to work later to work out beforehand? Can you come in to work earlier so you can leave early to hit the gym? Even though it might not be as convenient as some of the prime times, it might be more realistic way to work out in the end.

Talk to the staff. Too many times, I've encountered people who had cancelled their memberships because they could not make it to their favorite class or find an open treadmill. Instead of giving up, let the staff know of your problem. Fitness centers want to keep your business—and that means keeping you happy! Let’s say you love the 6 p.m. Spinning class, but it's always full by the time you get there. Talk to the staff about the problem you are having. Could they offer another class in a separate area at the same time? Could they add more bikes or additional classes on the schedule? Work together to find a solution so you can take advantage of the classes and services you're paying for each month.

The bottom line is that you pay a monthly premium for a gym membership, so it's important that you get the most for your money. If you aren't able to use equipment and classes the way you had hoped, talk to the staff to find solutions. Every new year brings dozens of new members to a fitness center. You can use the tips above as much as possible to make your workout experience better, but gyms usually stay crowded for several weeks. Be patient--it will pass!
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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

Member Comments

  • My fitness center is at work and most people work out at lunch time. It is really crowded then compared to other times. - 12/16/2013 11:19:16 AM
  • Great article. Thanks - 9/13/2013 9:13:59 PM
  • I don't agree with the times. for us the morning 5am - 6:30am are the busy and then 5pm - 7pm are the busy time. - 5/7/2013 9:37:05 PM
  • NATEANGLIN
    The easiest way to avoid the franchise gym rush is to just not go to the gym at all. This is exactly what I do. But I make sure I workout with intensity at home. Forget the stress of the gym, your garage can be your best kept secret. I recently wrote an article on this topic.

    http://www.nate
    anglin.com/wa
    rning-cancel-
    your-gym-membership/ - 12/8/2012 8:36:21 PM
  • Oh and the worst time to go to my gym is lunch hour pretty much any day of the week. I did that exactly once. Yuck! - 11/1/2012 11:50:03 AM
  • When I joined my gym, I was given a piece of paper that estimates how many people on average are at the gym each hour they are opened. While I have never seen my gym entirely full, I am very much aware of the peak times and try to avoid them best I can. Tuesdays are the worst nights ever for the gym! My fav gym day is Sunday, which is remarkable bc I normally hate going anywhere on Sundays! :D - 11/1/2012 11:48:09 AM
  • NJ_HOU
    Great Advice. I agree with your times pretty much although for my gym 5:30 - 7 is really very busy. And I know I would have cancelled my membership last December if I had not known that the a 'remote' Univ swimmers group was not going to be there every morning for the next month. Their 'coach' was rude and told me they had the lanes I like reserved for the month but after speaking with the staff I found it was only for the remainder of the next week in January and they had no right to ask me to move for my last 15 minutes at 7:45am since their 'time' started at 8am..... The staff people are a GREAT resource.
    so i just got there a bit earlier and 'shared' a lane for a little while and was out before 8. - 4/24/2010 11:28:01 AM
  • I go to the gym at 9 pm when I want free reign - it's amazing! Usually there's only 2 -3 people in each area (free weights, cardio, circuits, machines, abs) so you rarely have to work around anything. I like going right after work at 5 and getting it over with, but it's so busy I usually have to modify my routine.

    However, this article and the comments just gave me the idea of doing cardio for 10 minutes at a time. I HATE cardio, I get so bored, even intervals don't do it for me. So if I did abs, 10 minutes on the elliptical, shoulders, 10 minutes on the stairs, and then legs, 10 minutes on the treadmill, I bet I wouldn't be as annoyed! - 3/12/2009 11:02:43 AM
  • Ah, if your gym is on a military installation, these times do not apply! The "quiet" time is 8 am - 11 am, BUSY from 11:30 - 1 am, the quiet again until 3:45. PACKED until around 6 pm. Weekends the best time is 10 AM. - 2/21/2009 11:05:36 PM
  • I used to get to my gym by 6 a.m. in the morning. I get my choice of machines, locker, and shower. By the time I leave - close to 8 - a lot of people would start coming in. - 2/21/2009 9:20:45 PM
  • So glad to have new articles to read. Thanks. - 1/30/2009 3:15:14 AM
  • I've found (granted i've only belonged for the past 3 weeks, guess I'm a January gym goer until I make it to Feb huh) that the only busy time that I've been to my local Y was on Sunday. Funny I had been told by a coworker that they love going at that time because NO ONE is there. I usually go around 2 or 3 in the afternoon (late lunch) a couple of days a week and then on Friday evenings so the kids can have fun with family fun night, wasn't crowded AT ALL last Friday...I was shocked! I've also gone on a Saturday afternoon around 1pm and it's been pretty bare. I guess I've gotten lucky, I figured the 11 to 1 timeframe during the day would be packed as well as 5 to 7pm in the evenings. - 1/20/2009 3:55:57 PM
  • DSTOPGAL
    I am guilty of not being flexible with my routine. I used this excuse to quit my gym membership because I was frustrated at gym policies changing to accomodate peak times of business (i.e. I was up to 45 minutes on the elliptical, but limited to 10 minutes during those busy hours). Looking back, I should've done what the article says and mixed up my exercises. So I could've used the machine in 10 minute increments and then worked on other exercises in-between. Although, sometimes I felt like groups of us were racing to get to the machine that opened up--and some weren't so nice about it! - 1/20/2009 3:21:29 PM
  • TREAT76
    Interesting that you've found 8-11 am to be a busy time. I've worked out at many gyms and at many different times, and I've found 6:30-8:30 am to be the busy time in the morning - I used to regularly workout at 10 because of an odd work schedule, and it was always dead. In the evening, the busy period at gyms I've worked out at extends to about 8:30. The gyms I've worked out at are primarily white collar workers, so I would wager that accounts for a good bit of the difference. - 1/20/2009 12:31:31 PM
  • good advice but the reason it's so busy during those times is that they are the best to work out. If I don't go on the way home from work - I wont go so I have to go then. If I don't go first thing in the morning, I wont go. I dont know anyone who can go home from work and then go to the gym 3 hours later in the snow.

    January gym goers are so frustrating for those of us who do it all year round. All of a sudden our workout routines are messed up, you can't find parking, all the classes are full and by mid february all of these people are gone and it's back to normal. - 1/20/2009 10:01:53 AM
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