Posted December 30, 2018

Surviving The Gym During January

We know it’s coming. It’s almost inevitable, you’re probably hearing rumblings of it now, and it’s only going to intensify.

People will complain about the gym being busier than usual in January.

I’ve never understood why people would complain about more people being in a gym. The main goal of the health and fitness industry is to get people to exercise, so if there are more people in the gym, that’s kind of a good thing, right? I mean, more people working out means less people subject to sedentary health issues, more money for gyms and personal trainers, which can help lead to expansions and more space, or more high quality equipment to get your swole on, and a generally better experience at the end of the day, right?

Some of these new members may even be long term members who become your best friends, or just the random person you give a chin nod to when you’re walking in opposite directions by the change room.

So yes, the gym will be a bit busier than usual, and hopefully the influx of people starting up or coming back sticks around for more people, or for a longer time for the people who are there, but in the mean time, you can adjust your workouts slightly to still get jacked and smash PRs, while also being a functioning member of society in general. And because I’m a giver, I’m going to show a few simple ways you can get the most from your workouts during this dark and grey month.


Option #1: Ditch Supersets and Circuits in Favour of Straight Sets

When the gym is busy, equipment is at a bit of a premium, and it can be tough to get a barbell to yourself, let alone a bar, bench, rings, plyo box, band, bosu, monolift, and 3 treamills to replicate the greatest treadmill dance music video ever made, AMRAP.


So instead of getting your conditioning with 15 exercises linked together, try doing some straight sets of a single exercise or using a single piece of equipment, then move on to another one once you’re finished with the first. If you want conditioning, you can easily swing a kettlebell, rock out Rocky style with a jump rope, hit up a spin bike, or just double the volume of the work you’re doing on each set and see if you can smell colours.


Option #2: Find Out When The Peak Hours At Your Gym Are And Avoid Them

If your gym is in a city centre, it’s likely the peak hours will revolve around a 9-5 work schedule, meaning it will be busy between 6-8am, and after 4pm until likely around 7, with the possibility of a busy lunch hour or two. This means if you can avoid those hours, you’ll likely have the place all to your self. If you’re in a suburban region, the hours may be a bit different, and if you work in a specialty facility, it may also be different, but these seem to be the most common peak hours.

If your schedule allows some flexibility to avoid these hours, try to do that. If you clock in and out at regular human hours and have to pick your poison of before or after work, there’s 2 big things to consider.

First, if you’re working out before work, the change room will actually be busier than the gym as people are getting ready to head in to work. This means changing into dress clothes, doing their hair/makeup/shaving/other, and essentially creating a premium for bench and sink space.

In the after-work crowd, fewer people are getting dolled up after their workouts, meaning the change room will be less crowded towards crunch time when everyone has to get out to get to work. What this means is if you have to get ready to head to work, show up a bit early and cut the workout a bit short to have a better chance of not being elbowed out of the change room space.

Option #3: Do More Body Weight or Non-machine based training

It’s tough to get in some squats when everyone’s lining up for curls, so maybe it could be worthwhile to sub out barbell squats for a couple weeks for some higher volume Goblet squats.


Maybe instead of endless sets of bench press, you sub in some band loaded pushups.


Do some single leg work, like split squats, lunges, or single leg deadlifts. You know you need to anyway, so now’s as good a time as any to get them in.


Option #4: Have a Plan A, and Also a Plan B

Having a plan is right up there with having shoes and doing a pre-game in terms of important stuff to consider when getting to the gym. The challenge comes down to looking at your workout, then looking at the gym and seeing everything you had schedule is currently being done by everyone else in the place, making you look like casual-confused guy strolling around and taking stock.

The good thing to consider is that if you have a plan B of your workout, you might be able to still salvage something. Everyone’s benching on a Monday? Cool. Maybe some benches are free over by the dumbbells and you can do a dumbbell press for a few sets until a bench press frees up. You want to push the sled but everyone’s on board the carry wagon, or just doing endless lunges? No prob, maybe hit up some step ups on a bench for a vertical sled push action. All the equipment is being used? Maybe just do calf raises, by which I mean do nothing at all like you usually do for calf training.

Maybe you walked in thinking it was squat day, but instead since every squat rack was full, bench is what’s for dinner. You’re in control, so having back up options can make a massive difference in getting the best quality workout available.

This is a good idea for beginners just showing up to the gym too. Make sure you have a plan of something to do that will help you reach your goals, and that you have a back up in case what you’re trying to do is somehow not easily available.


Option #5: Just Breathe

Come Valentine’s day, you’ll be back to your regularly scheduled grind-fest, so take a breath or two, relax, enjoy the time before the Christmas credit card statement comes in, and know that you’ll survive this very mild inconvenience to your very existence.