How to get a REAL workout at a FAKE (franchise) gym

Walking into a franchise fitness facility is like walking into an alternate universe.

Is this real life? I think to myself.

Grown men flexing in the mirror. Talking about their mass gainer shakes. Grunting. Slamming weights. Doing biceps curls for days. Ladies suffering through hours of cardio. Doing a million reps of approximately zero weight on every exercise machine. Avoiding free weights at all costs. They don’t want to get bulky.

Ignore everyone and everything

By now you’ve probably figured out that I am a fan of home workouts. I stick with kettlebells and TRX most of the time. Still, I know that’s not for everyone. I think you should try it. It works for me.

But, maybe you like going to the gym. Or, you don’t have the space to workout at home. That’s cool. However you got there, you’re at a fitness franchise. What now?

Just because you show up, doesn’t mean you’ll get fit. You have to do the work. The right kind of work. But, before you do anything, the most important thing you can do it ignore everyone. 99% of people in this place have no idea what they are doing. Ignore them.

While you’re at it, ignore all of the equipment too. Well, maybe not all of the equipment. Most of it. You don’t need it. The machines are useless. Trust me on this one.

Do this instead

On the rare occasion when I find myself in a gym franchise, here’s what I’m thinking.

1.) What time is it? I actually ask this question before I leave for the gym. Franchise gyms fill up in the pre-work and post-work hours. It’s such a cluster that I try to avoid it at all costs. You should do the same.

2.) Get in, move with intention and urgency, work hard, get out. Less time working out, means more time living. Let’s do this.

3.) Give me the goods. As in the right equipment. I’m not wasting my time with machines, strength or cardio. I want the good stuff.

  • Power rack. Also known as a squat rack. Once I arrive, my mission it to secure the power rack and monopolize it for the length of my visit. Sorry! It’s the truth. Of course I’ll let you work in if you ask nicely. Using the power rack also requires a barbell and free weights, sure to be located near by. Once I have my equipment, depending on my workout, I will set out to complete some combination of the following exercises – front or back squat, deadlift, overhead press, bent over rows

  • Pull-up bar. If you’re lucky, this will be attached to the power rack. With one bar I will be able to do a bunch of pull-up/chin-up variation, leg/knee raises and toes to bar. I might add weight by way of a belt or by putting a dumbbell between my feet for added resistance. If you can’t do pull-up, watch this and then use the power rack to do suspended rows.

  • Dumbbells. We’re all familiar with dumbbells. But, what do you do with them? I would recommend deadlifts, biceps curl to overhead press, push-press, front squats, thrusters – some type of compound, total body movement. Whatever you choose to do, use proper etiquette. Do this – after selecting your weights, pick them up and take them away from the rack. There’s nothing worse than someone who uses the dumbbells directly in front of the rack. You’ll be taking up space, while blocking everyone else from accessing the weights.

Believe it or not, that’s all I really need. What do you need in order to get a GOOD workout?