"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." – Maya Angelou

The Savvy Investment: Join a Gym

How going to a fitness center can change your life, make you stronger, and put punch in your life

Gyms epitomize grunting and sweaty bodies. We resent the scantily clad men and women, prancing around, wrestling with free weights, admiring their bodies in full-length mirrors. We avoid gyms like the plague.

What if I told you that the only motor vehicles on earth were 11-feet tall monster-trucks, 12-feet wide, and came with 66-inch tires, complete with methanol-injected engines? There is little truth in such a statement. Monster-trucks are custom-built creations, aren’t allowed on public roads and make up less than 0.1 % of all vehicles on the planet.

I’d rather introduce you to the 21st century fitness facilities, where “gyms,” fitness centres, are safe havens, where the focus has shifted, and not everybody cavorts around showing off their physique.

And yet, for many of us, exercise has so many negative connotations.

Since Phys-Ed class in high school, exercise has been something we ‘had to do’:

    • to please the teacher
    • to please our parents
    • to please the coach.

We still taste the hurt, feeling embarrassed and out of place with the group- gym classes and secretly prayed the periods to be over. We soon believed we were not athletic, sitting on the sidelines, marginalized, because the gym teacher, or the coach (again) didn’t pick us. We were not good enough to let the team win.

Who in his or her right mind can anyway find enjoyment in being sweaty, with a heart pounding in one’s chest, being unable to walk properly the next day, due to sore muscles? We found little pleasure in it, much less any excitement.

We learned to hate activity and all things exercise. Passionately. We became abstainers and couch potatoes, accepting our fate, developing a fixed mindset.

Our silent resolve soon become ingrained:

    • I hate exercise.
    • I hate being all sweaty
    • I hate gyms
    • It’s for show-offs and bodybuilders
    • I’ve never been an athlete
    • It’s a waste of time
    • One anyway doesn’t need a fitness centre to stay healthy

But life is short. Our lives become busy, filled with important activities, urgent things that demand our time: school, college, university, work, family and friends. We are flooded by commitments, deadlines and responsibilities.

Soon, our busy lives leave us no room to take care of ourselves or of our own health. We promise to give it more attention, one day, once we sort our lives out, once we retire, when there will be more time. In the meantime, our quality of life dwindles away and the vitality seeps through our fingers. We bemoan our misfortune of lack of time and our resultant poor health.

And, as time takes its course, it becomes far easier to drink a handful of pills to keep us going and alive.

We become used to, and comfortable with our personal collection of idiosyncrasies and acquired ailments. We become blind to the fact that:
    • Inactivity is a silent killer
    • Stress can also be deadly. Yet, we suffer greatly under this burden.
    • We isolate ourselves (Isolation can strike a 23-year old college student, just as hard as it does an 87-year old widow)
    • We can remain conditioned during winter (Especially where it’s minus temperatures for 6 months)
    • We don’t have to lose muscle as we grow beyond the 40-year mark
    • We can get a handle on depression, and anxiety, in addition to medications
    • It is possible to come off most prescription-medications for lifestyle chronic diseases
    • We don’t have to become osteoporotic and stoop and fracture
    • We don’t have to develop Type 2 Diabetes, or can learn to control it better
    • We can take better control over heart disease, high cholesterol and hypertension
    • We can get better control over chronic pain, beyond medications
    • We can prevent and minimize cognitive decline as we age
    • We can prepare for surgery and fare better, short and long term

I wasn’t always an active person. I wasn’t lazy, only a little passive. From the time I learned to read, I fell in love with books. I’m the second of five children. The local library allowed each family member two cards to loan books on. Since the younger three were too young, and the older one didn’t mind, I would often have ten cards to my disposal. Every week I returned for new books. Over the course of several years I literally read through part of the library.

During my high school-years we moved to another part of the city and I insisted on attending a school far from home. This necessitated me to take the bus. I took the wrong bus home on the first day and ended up in the bus terminal, at loss and embarrassed. That was the day I opted to cycle to school—15 kilometers a day. For four years I would travel this route. I still loved reading, but I had discovered a new joy, the freedom that came with physical activity, with conquering an obstacle.

Over the course of the two decades following high school, I visited fitness centres infrequently. It wasn’t a big deal, since we lived in a country of eternal summer, South Africa. Snow? I once saw it in grade three. And then I moved to Canada!

Treating patients in Canada, especially over the past 15 years, made me appreciate why fitness centres have a rightful place in our modern (Western) society.

Gyms, fitness centres in the 21st century, have become places of:

    • Community, of social interaction
    • recharging energy, finding vitality
    • of forging friendships, of camaraderie
    • challenging oneself, discovering new abilities
    • focusing on health and wellness
    • bolstering confidence—suitable for the entire age range: from 5 to 95 and beyond
    • Bodybuilding is only one of a multitude of activities pursued on its premises.

20 Reasons why it’s good to frequent a fitness facility or fitness complex (a gym):
  1. Prevents isolation. It get’s you out of the house, the apartment, out of the college room.
    • Loneliness leads to depression
    • Loneliness leads to mental decline
  2. Reduces stress
    • Unremitting stress is a killer
    • Puts us at risk for poor health, poor work performance, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke and leads to premature aging
  3. Improves self-confidence
    • You feel better (immediately, due to Dopamine release)
    • You learn to achieve goals & overcome obstacles
    • You look better (if that is your goal)
  4. Improves fitness
    • There is a high ceiling to what you can achieve
    • For serious athletes, young, old, master athletes or to stay in shape
    • Personal trainers on site
    • Aerobic, strength, balance and flexibility training
    • Exercise spills over, and positively affect other areas of your life
  5. Weather-proof facility
    • In Northern hemisphere with 5-7 months of winters, far below zero
    • Safety against the elements: outdoors often unpleasant or dangerous
  6. Improves general health and sense of wellbeing
    • Shift in focus: no longer only do bench-presses and deadlifts
    • Non-judgmental atmosphere
    • Place where you make friends
    • Interacting with motivated people
    • Experience more enjoyment—begin seeing activity not as medicine, but as an enjoyable interaction with friends.
  7. Improves mental health
    • You feel better. Not one day—immediately. This is liberating
    • Exercise is an effective anti-depressant
    • Exercise is an effective anti-anxiety intervention
    • Exercise stimulates growth factors in the brain, increasing neuronal connectivity. Improves neuroplasticity
    • Exercise can largely prevent and delay dementia
    • Improves sleep
    • Improves your mood—prolonged effect
  8. Prevention, reversal and treatment of chronic disease (especially, but not only at medical fitness centres)
    • Stress
    • Type 2 Diabetes
    • Ischemic heart disease
    • Obesity (knowledgeable professionals, support, food prep retraining)
    • Hypertension
    • Hyperlipidemia
    • Depression/Anxiety
    • Osteo-arthritis
    • Certain cancers (breast/prostate/colon)
  9. Safe haven
    • Secure: enforced ID access
    • Some areas, neighborhoods may be unsafe outdoors
    • Strict hygiene. These are clean places. Machine wipes available
  10. Rehabilitation
    • Following injury
    • Following surgery
    • Following illness, e.g. Heart attack
  11. Prehabilitation
    • Optimize individuals PRIOR to surgery
    • Triple approach: functional fitness, nutritional optimization and emotional bolstering
  12. Day-care and babysitting facilities on premises
  13. Wider variety of equipment than most people have at home
    • New equipment, maintained, replaced
    • Many have a track, for walking or jogging
    • Cardio & resistance machines, free weights
    • CrossFit equipment, bodyweight-band exercises
    • Resistance bands, stepping benches, exercise balls
    • Kettlebells
    • Boutique gyms (only wall-climbing, only spinning classes, only dancing, etc. See below)
    • Water-based programs (pools)
  14. More than a weight room: Other activities:
    • Pilates, yoga, Zumba
    • Spinning (indoor stationary cycling classes)
    • Dancing, Group exercise classes
    • Rock-climbing
    • Recreational activities (badminton, basket ball)
    • Amenities: it has more than only a shower:
    • Sauna
    • Steam-room
    • Lounge for relaxation
  15. More than a bare gym: Other services:
    • Massage therapy (sports injuries, optimum performance, stress reduction)
    • Physiotherapy
    • Dietary/nutritional guidance
    • Food preparation retraining (medical fitness centers)
    • Psychological guidance
  16. Knowledgeable personnel
    • Your progress will be faster, less injuries
    • Kinesiologist, personal trainers
    • Plus: Physiotherapist, Massage therapist, Dietitian, Psychologist
  17. Place of health information and teaching
    • Since 60 – 80% of chronic diseases (see # 8 above) can be prevented, reversed or optimally controlled by lifestyle interventions
    • Practical information for each condition
    • Beyond education: demonstration and teaching
  18. Aged and Elderly empowerment (fitness classes)
    • Prevent cognitive impairment (especially aerobic exercise improve neuronal connectivity in hippocampus of brain)
    • Regular social interaction is critical (this adds life to your years)
    • Fall prevention (core strength, balance, cardio & resistance)
    • Enabling independent living
    • Improves memory
  19. Financial assistance programs (Inquire!)
    • on an individual basis (Many of them are community services)
  20. Increases productivity
    • Regular exercise and fitness improves motivation
    • You learn to commit & persevere
    • Spills over to workplace and personal life.

Remember: you’re not joining a “gym.” It’s a fitness and wellness community.

Fitness centres in Winnipeg, Manitoba:

Rady JCC, Reh-Fit, Wellness Institute, GoodLife Fitness, Shapes, McDole’s, YMCA, Curves, Snap Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Assiniboine Athletic Club, University of Manitoba fitness centre, Winnipeg Winter Club.

Monthly Membership fees Winnipeg: From $ 42 – $ 107 per month

Fitness centres in Vancouver, BC:

Cliffhanger Climbing Gyms, YMCA, Steve Nash Sports Clubs, Barre Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Urban Fitness, Spartacus, Eastside Fitness, Kalev Fitness, CrossFit 604, RainCity Athletics, HIIT Fitness, Club 16 Downtown, Hillcrest Community Center.

Monthly Membership Fees Vancouver: From $ 20 (club 16) to $ 119 (Studeo 55, a boutique gym)

Fitness Centres Toronto, ON:

GoodLife, YMCA, LA Fitness, Hard Candy, Equinox, Totum King, Miles Nadal (with saltwater pool), Generate Fitness (their stationary bicycles provide off-grid power for the facility), Studio Lagree, The Extension Room, The Monkey vault, Fuel Training Club, TRX TrainStation, Ferris 360, Barreworks, Striation 6, Fit 4 less, Hone Fitness, Planet Fitness.

Monthly fees Toronto: From: $ 10 monthly at Hone Fitness! to $ 179 at Generate Fitness

Fitness Centres New York City:

24-Hour Fitness, BFX Studio, Blink Fitness, Brick New York, Brooklyn Bodyburn, Concrete Fitness, Equinox Printing House, Exceed Physical Culture, HIIT BK, Limitless Fitness Studios, The Movement, Peloton Cycle (indoor-cycling), Refine Method, Row House, Sage Fit, Simply Fit.

Monthly Fees New York: $ 15 monthly (Blink) to $ 15 drop in (Simply fit) to $ 30 drop-in to $ 349 (BFX).

Fitness Centers London, UK:

YMCA, Gymbox, Speedflex, Jubilee Hall Sports Center, Aegis Training Ltd, The Third Space, The Place (dance studio), Danceworks, Barry’s Bootcamp, Fitness First, LA Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Hammersmith Fitness, Virgin Active.

Monthly Fees London, UK: £ 40 (YMCA), £ 50 (Fitness first) to £ 88 (Virgin Active)

What are you investing?

    • Your time
    • Money: Membership fee (for as little as $ 10 to $ 349 + per month)
    • Your health
    • In the future (It’s simple: you have one life)
    • Effort and commitment


If you live in Winnipeg, MB, you have to visit these fitness facilities as part of your research: (GO INSIDE, ASK FOR A TOUR AND DECIDE!) (These 4 all have financial assistance programs!)

  1. Rady JCC (5-star! Natural light, lap pool, track, fitness center, professional staff)
  2. Reh-Fit Centre (5-star! Canada’s first certified medical fitness State-of-the-art!)
  3. Wellness Institute (5-star! Also a medical fitness facility. More than a health club)
  4. YMCA (4 locations in Winnipeg. Aquatics and land based programs. Go have a look!)

You only have one life. Take care of it.
Now what?

Once finishing reading this article: Take action!

    • Do some homework, do some research
    • If you live in Winnipeg, click on the links above
    • If you live elsewhere, click on the links below
    • Get out of the house
    • Don’t join the first facility. Compare a few.
    • Ask for a guided tour.
    • Ask for a trial period, or at least a trial workout.
    • Go feel better now. Get fitter now. Get in shape now.
    • Make new friends now.
    • Not one day when you retire
    • Go enjoy!

Embark on a new chapter of reclaiming your life, and in the process, become able to impact others even more.

 Question: Which one of the 20 reasons resonates most with you?

© 2016 All rights reserved.

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  7. Silver Julie K, Baima J. Review & Analysis: Cancer Prehabillitation J. Phys. Med. Rehabil. Vol. 92, No. 8, Aug 2013
  8. Bouchard J, Villeda SA. Aging and brain rejuvenation as systemic events. Journal of Neurochemistry. Vol. 132, Issue 1, 5-19, January 2015
  9. Barcelos N, Shah N, Cohen K, Kramer AF, et al. Aerobic and Cognitive exercise (ACE) Pilot Study for Older Adults: Executive Function Improves with Cognitive Challenge While Exergaming. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Nov; 21(10) 768-79. Doi: 10.1017?S1355617715001083.

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