What to Do If You’re Not Enjoying Your Gym’s Programming

Written by:

Damect Dominguez

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Discuss the programming with your coach/program designer

Rather than making an assumption that there’s no reasoning behind gym programming, take the time to sit down with your coach (or whomever designs the programming at your box) to discuss your concerns. Be prepared to understand that a coach can’t design a training schedule to suit your specific needs and weaknesses. Instead, he or she must look to cater to all the members of your affiliate, and no two athletes are the same. Furthermore, your coach may inform you that the reason strength work has been limited in class recently (or weights have been substantially lighter, for example) is that you’re in the middle of a deload period, and he/she wants to focus on refining technique and building body-weight strength before launching into a new strength cycle at the start of the following month. While talking to your coach may or may not ease your concerns about the programming, you’ll never really know unless you ask.

Of course, part of your coach’s job is to address the needs and concerns of their athletes, so the mere fact that you’re making them aware of a lack of Weightlifting, gymnastics or that too great an emphasis is placed in one area can be extremely valuable. Your coach can then look back at their programming to see if workouts have been too random, without structure, too predictable without variance, or simply not well-designed (poor weight selection, scaling, etc), and make adjustments as necessary.

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Are you being honest about why you don’t like the programming?

Come on now—just because you know the movements that you detest (because you suck at them) will make a weekly appearance in a workout isn’t reason to take issue with the programming. In fact, you should be grateful for the opportunity to work on areas that are hindering your progress. Through regular practice and work, not only will you see those weakness turn into strengths, but you’ll also notice how the increased attention to that area of your fitness is helping you in other movements. For example, if you are a poor overhead squatter—but slowly become more efficient at it thanks to dedicated programming at your box—your snatch will improve (thanks to the overhead receiving position). Now, if you’re asked to spend 15 minutes each day in class to work on a weakness, then that’s no fun for anyone. Still, be cognizant of whether you’re not enjoying your programming because it hurts your ego to work on weaknesses, or if it’s a question of getting more variance in the workout format.

Plan B: Use open gym to follow different programming

This option is typically reserved for athletes fortunate enough to be members at affiliates that offer regular open gym hours throughout the week; and have the experience to train on their own. If this applies to you, then you needn’t get too upset over what you perceive to be poor programming from your coach. Instead, you can use open gym hours to your advantage by following any number of programs. The advantage of picking which program to follow (or even creating your own) is that you can train the way you want to—focusing on your weaknesses while hitting workouts you enjoy. On the flip side, you lose the many advantages of working out with a class—the camaraderie, the support, having people there to keep you honest and push you past your limitations. Of course, following your own programming doesn’t mean you can’t dabble in some classes too during the week. It’s not for everyone, but if you really want to have a more personalized program, this is your best bet

Last option? Find a new gym

It may seem extreme, but you have to remember that if you’re not enjoying your time at the box, your fitness will inevitably suffer. For many people, coming in every day to work out with their friends is enough. But if you feel that you’re simply not progressing at your current affiliate, that your coach isn’t heeding your concerns and you can’t think of an alternative solution, the best option is to start looking at other boxes that offer programming that catches your eye and where you think you can grow as an athlete. You’ll have to make sure that you pick the right gym though—you obviously picked your current box for a few reasons (location, cost, social group, etc.), so if you’re leaving in search of better programming, you may have to give up on some of the benefits you currently enjoy.

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Photo courtesy of Andrew Hoffman/CC BY 2.0

About Damect Dominguez

Co-founder of BoxLife Magazine. Author: Training Day: 400+ Workouts to Incorporate in Your Training.

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