I’m fitness coach here are the seven best ways to avoid the crowds at the gym… and get fitter as a result

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Gyms reach their peak level of  busyness in January, as newcomers with resolutions are eager to kickstart their fitness journeys.

From fully booked classes to longer wait times for your favourite equipment – the influx of crowds can be difficult to navigate for both newbies and regulars.

If you’re limited for time or used to a specific workout routine, dealing with an overcrowded gym can be frustrating and might even deter some people from going altogether.

When you’re unable to change your schedule to workout during a quieter period, the only thing you can do is adapt your routine.

Global fitness coach at Curves, Joanna Dase, has given her top tips on how to deal with a busy gym, as well as providing alternative workout suggestions – read on for her advice.

Gyms reach their peak level of busyness in January, as newcomers with resolutions are eager to kickstart their fitness journeys

Opt for bodyweight training

To avoid the need to rely on specific available equipment or machines, the fitness coach advises utlising your own body weight.

She explains: ‘High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves bodyweight movements such as squats, jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers and lunges – all of which require no equipment to train with. 

‘This means you can set up a mat in a small corner of your gym and get going with your workout, whilst avoiding the crowds. 

‘HIIT training allows for a concise and effective workout plan that will get you sweating in no time. It’s a great option for those who want to be in and out of the gym as quickly as possible, without waiting for equipment to free up’. 

Bring your own resistance equipment

However, if there is specific equipment you’re hoping to use such as weights, it’s worth investing in some similar items of your own – especially if you plan on coming often.

Global fitness coach at Curves , Joanna Dase, has given her top tips on how to deal with a busy gym, as well as providing alternative workout suggestions

Global fitness coach at Curves , Joanna Dase, has given her top tips on how to deal with a busy gym, as well as providing alternative workout suggestions

Joanna says: ‘Typically, during the ‘January rush’, the free weights area is packed and will seem like a no-go. 

‘This can be frustrating if you’re working out to increase strength, muscle size and change your body composition, as using free weights is one of the best ways to achieve these results. 

‘However, by bringing your own resistance bands or suspension anchors, you can still engage in effective strength training, even when free weights are in high demand. 

‘There are plenty of affordable options online and they are easy to pack in your gym bag, making them a convenient option to still engage in a full-body workout without relying on the gym’s equipment availability. 

‘The bonus is that this equipment can be used for home workouts on the days you don’t want to go into the gym’.

You can get your hands on a set of resistence bands for as little as £7.50 on Amazon. 

Try the less popular classes

The expert’s third suggestion is to switch things up and try classes that are less popular at the gym, adding variety to your routine.

She explains: ‘Gym classes have dedicated spaces and use minimal equipment to ensure you have an accessible workout, without competing in a crowded gym. 

‘They are typically structured workouts led by a qualified instructor, which makes them a popular option for newcomers and existing gym members. 

‘There are some mainstream classes which tend to surge in popularity in the new year, such as ‘Spin’, ‘HIIT’ and ‘Pilates’. 

‘If you don’t book your slots quickly, they are likely to fill up fast, and you may find yourself disappointed that you couldn’t attend’

Adding: ‘The ‘January rush’ is the best time to try out classes which may not be as in-demand, such as a specialised yoga class, Zumba, or dance class. 

‘They will have more slots and a designated space for you to workout. By participating in alternative workouts, it adds variety to your fitness routine and helps you to discover new exercises that you enjoy’. 

The expert's third suggestion is to switch things up and try classes that are less popular at the gym, adding variety to your routine

The expert’s third suggestion is to switch things up and try classes that are less popular at the gym, adding variety to your routine

Avoid the hot times

Next, if you’re flexible and your schedule can allow it, you can always try to avoid the peak times at the gym.

Some gym groups have apps that let you track how many people are there, allowing you to plan ahead. 

However, Joanna says: ‘Typically, early morning between 7-9am and evenings between 5-7pm are high-traffic periods, as people try fit in their workouts before or after work. 

‘Off-peak hours will allow you to have more space to work out, less queues for equipment and enjoy a more comfortable exercise session without the hustle and bustle of the busiest times’. 

Integrate cardio-focused workouts into your routine

If the weight area seems too crowded, the fitness coach advises you ‘try incorporating sessions focussed solely on cardiovascular exercise’. 

She told MailOnline: ‘Cardio is a great way to get your heart rate up, without the need for extensive space or free weights. 

‘There are plenty of machines to try out including the treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical machine, rowing, and stair master, so you’re not limited for options. 

‘Keep at a low-intensity for 30-45 minutes for better endurance and incorporate this into your routine 1-3x a week. 

‘This approach helps you reach your fitness goals, whether it’s building strength or losing weight, all while avoiding the more crowded areas in the gym’. 

If the weight area seems too crowded, the fitness coach advises you 'try incorporating sessions focussed solely on cardiovascular exercise'

If the weight area seems too crowded, the fitness coach advises you ‘try incorporating sessions focussed solely on cardiovascular exercise’

Claim your space

If the gym is crowded and the equipment you need is available, don’t be intimidated, even if you’re new.

Joanna says ‘Don’t be afraid to seize the opportunity and claim your space. This can be daunting if you feel shy or reserved at the gym, especially if you’re not used to asserting yourself in a busy environment. 

‘While certain exercises may be traditionally reserved for specific areas, when the gym is overcrowded, focus your workout around the available equipment. 

‘For example, if you manage to find an available squat rack, make the most of it by doing deadlifts, squats, and hip thrusts, once you’ve secured your workout space.

‘Take your time during your workout and don’t feel pressured to rush, but find a balance between completing your exercises efficiently and being mindful of the shared space’. 

Although, she also notes you should ‘avoid hogging the equipment’ and make sure to allow others to use it between your sets. 

She adds: ‘This way, you can focus on achieving your fitness goals during the ‘January rush’, whilst respecting others’. 

Joanna says 'Don't be afraid to seize the opportunity and claim your space. This can be daunting if you feel shy or reserved at the gym, especially if you're not used to asserting yourself in a busy environment'

Joanna says ‘Don’t be afraid to seize the opportunity and claim your space. This can be daunting if you feel shy or reserved at the gym, especially if you’re not used to asserting yourself in a busy environment’

Use multiple locations 

Finally, a feature not many gym fans make the most of is the option to utlilise multiple locations if you use a chain.

Joanna suggests: ‘Ifyou  have signed up to a fitness chain and your local gym is too overcrowded during January, it may be worth upgrading your package, so you have access to more than one gym.

‘This way, you can try out other locations which may have less crowds, and have more flexibility in your schedule. 

‘For example, you could work out during lunchtime at the gym closest to your office, rather than having to go after working hours.

‘If upgrading your gym package is not an option, consider using other available spaces, such as your local park, or follow an at-home workout routine. 

‘These alternatives provide the flexibility to maintain your fitness routine outside of the crowded gym environment’.

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