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January 7, 2014 / Amy Bradney-George

Finding The Right Type of Fitness Deal

I love trying new things and after getting really sick three or four times last winter I’ve become particularly interested in all things health and fitness.

So last year when I was looking for something new and feeling inspired by the handful of springlike days that graced Melbourne, I happened to get an invitation from Mamamia for a gym trial.

It started with an email in August inviting me to be part of the site’s Opinionator trial for Fernwood Fitness, a women’s gym operating around Australia. I got two weeks there in exchange for writing about the experience as a Mamamia Opinionator (see link above) and really enjoyed it.

The team there and the members were so friendly and I enjoyed both working out on my own and doing classes. I had only previously gone to a gym three years ago, when I was living in Canada and I’d never done classes there.

Image credit: LocalFitness

Image credit: LocalFitness.com.au

My Opinionator experience has since led me to look at other gyms and fitness options available in Australia, and also inspired me to write about it. First of all, I’ve discovered that most gyms offer trials, whether it is one day, one week or even two weeks. You can sometimes even find them on the back of shopping dockets (which I’ve also done).

Some, like Fernwood, also offer free fitness assessments and tours to show you how things work, so you don’t end up feeling like you’re thrown in the deep end if you haven’t used a gym before. It’s a great way to figure out what a gym is like and whether you want to go there on a more regular basis. But I couldn’t help wondering what options are out there if you want something more flexible.

What if you work for yourself and don’t want to commit to a contract? What if you have young kids and can’t commit to a regular timetable? What if you’re a uni student or between jobs? Working out at home or doing a team sport are go-to alternatives, but I also think sometimes a gym is a nice refuge from weather or lack of motivation.

The more I’ve thought about this issue, the more I’ve wondered if we need some other options. And one of the things I’ve noticed is that there are some smart people and businesses filling in the gaps between membership options. Take Michelle Bridges 12-Week Body Transformation program, for instance. I’ve never done it, but I’m following the Mamamia team that’s involved now and think it’s a really great, flexible program. I love that you can do it from anywhere and still have the support of a trainer and a community of people all going through challenges during a 12-week period. It seems like a really affordable way to change things up and kickstart or boost health and fitness goals.

There’s also new technology that makes keeping track of your fitness easier, like FitBit, which helps track your steps, distance, calories and many other measurable health markers. Mamamia’s Natalia Hawk has also written a great post about other fitness apps, all of which cost less than $5 and can be used pretty much anywhere.

Another option I came across a few months ago is FitUsIn. This Australian startup offers temporary gym passes, class entry and other packages at locations all around the country, often at much lower prices than you would get at any gyms currently offering day passes. I actually came across the app in an article in the newspaper one weekend, got really interested in it and went straight onto the website to explore.

FitUsIn screenshot 2

The whole premise of FitUsIn is to make it easier to visit gyms and get active wherever you are and whatever lifestyle and budget you have. So if you’re new to working out, a traveller or want to change things up a bit, you can search for nearby places on your phone or online.

It is the brainchild of Vanessa Picker, a 22-year-old whose future looks very bright. Already the company has graduated from the ANZ Innovyz START accelerator program and was a finalist in the NYC Next Idea competition.

The team behind FitUsIn seems just as inspiring and just as motivated.When I was first exploring the site, for example, I had a couple of issues and sent an email through about it. I got a response from the team almost straight away, and was encouraged to give more feedback and suggestions whenever I wanted. I’ve since contacted them about a couple of local gyms they could get in touch with, and have been kept in the loop about progress.

Towards the end of 2013 I also had a few chats with FitUsIn Co-founder and Director Liam Darmody about the app, and was really impressed with his passion for encouraging healthy lifestyles and supporting change in the health and fitness industry.

“We’re not here to do one off promotions that are unsustainable. We’re trying to get more people in the door and fill the gaps when gyms have downtime,” he told me. It’s this kind of creativity and open-mindedness that makes me really excited for entrepreneurs and fellow health and fitness enthusiasts like myself. Because the more options and flexibility we have, the easier it is to stay motivated and inspired.

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