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This is the best time to go to the gym if you hate people

Image: Sick of fighting off 12 people just to get some weights? Here’s what you need to know.

Last Sunday afternoon, I got a serious craving to go to the gym and do a nice little HIIT session.

This has literally never happened to me before – usually I have to drag myself to the gym, mentally kicking and screaming – so I decided to take full advantage of the feeling… and go to the gym.

When I got there, I was shocked by what I found. There was barely anyone in the gym. A couple of people were on the treadmill, and one guy was using a weights machine. But I was in a separate little freestyle training area, and there was absolutely no one else in the area with me.

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It was different. I was thrown. I put my mat down in a corner, and grabbed some equipment, and started doing my lunges and squats and push-ups, fully expecting someone else to come into the area at any moment and ask to use the 4kg medicine ball that I’d taken for my own use:

My own personal gym. Featuring my mat, my medicine ball and my step-up thingy.

But no one came. And I had the best workout of my life. I stayed for a full hour, and lunged my way around the entire room, and did stupid-looking but effective moves because no one was watching.

So. It turns out that Sunday afternoons are an awesome time to go to the gym. Excellent. But I wanted to know all the other times that the gym is at minimum capacity, so that I can slot my workouts into those times and therefore avoid other humans forever.

I had a chat to the National Future Product Manager of Fitness First, Adrian Holdsworth, to find out the peak times for gyms.

Adrian told me that there's a difference between inner-city, CBD gyms and suburban gyms.

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Inner-city gyms

Because they're generally populated by workers, inner-city clubs have three peaks during the day. They get a huge influx of people between the following times:

6:30am - 8am

11am - 1pm (40% of people actually come in at this time)

5 - 7:30pm

So if you'd like a quieter gym - try to go outside of those hours. Adrian says that if you can even just push your lunch hour by half an hour - to commence at, say, 1:30pm - you'll be rewarded with far less people.

"If you can just push it to the fringes of the peak times, it'll be so much better for you," he says.

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Suburban gyms

Suburban clubs differ slightly, in that their peak time is just after 9:30am - when mums have managed to drop the kids at school, and are coming in to the gym to get their workout over and done with. So here are the three times of day where the suburban gyms are busiest:

6:30 - 9am

9:30am - 11am

5:30  - 8pm

Lunchtime, however, is super quiet - so if you're looking to work out at a suburban gym during a weekday, go around midday.

As for weekends - Adrian says that the majority of people come in between 8am and 11am on a Saturday and Sunday, to get their workout over and done with for the day. So if you want an empty gym? Go on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

24-hour gyms

If you belong to a 24-hour gym and are happy to get your night-owl on, you're also in luck. According to Adrian, statistics say that only 7% of gym visits occur between the hours of 10pm and 6am.

Being an early (i.e. before 6am) riser has its perks. (via Wikimedia)

"But Nat," you say, all frustrated, "I can't actually go during any of those non-crowded gym hours. I HAVE to go during the peak times - so what can I do to maximise my time at the gym?"

Well. Adrian gave me a solution for that, too. He said that your best bet is to try and join a fitness class that's running at that time.

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"Fitness classes during peak times usually have a lot of people in them, and that also makes for a great atmosphere," Adrian says. "There's a lot more energy in the room if there's a lot of people in one Body Attack class, for example. And it's also great to go to a crowded class if you're nervous and don't want to be on show - no one will be paying attention to you if there's heaps of other people in the room."

There's also the option of joining a not-so-traditional workout out on the gym floor. Fitness First, for example, are opening up a whole lot of freestyle sessions using different equipment. They're a great way to get a workout that utilises a whole lot of different bits of training kit, and because you're part of a class, you don't have to wait for a specific piece of equipment.

Otherwise, Adrian has one last tip for you. "Don't go for the traditional equipment - stay away from the treadmills and bikes if you're going to be waiting for them," he says. "Go for something a bit different. Do a workout on the gym floor. It keeps things interesting and engaging."

What time do you try and get to the gym?

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