How to Survive an Overcrowded Gym in the New Year


Survive an overcrowded gym during peak hours

How to Survive an Overcrowded Gym in the New Year


If you’re a frequent gym goer than joining a gym will not be a New Year’s resolution for you this year. However, for millions of Americans losing weight and getting in shape are some of the most popular New Year’s resolution list toppers; as a result, gym memberships skyrocket in January. Unfortunately, for current members, that will mean waiting lines by the treadmills, overcrowded locker rooms and full to the brim spin classes. Here are some tips from New York based certified personal trainer Mike Giliotti to help the fitness aficionado navigate through the crowds and maintain their fitness plan for the new year!

Avoid peak hours.

Gym peak time infographic

Gym peak time

Most people exercise before or after work, so try to avoid those times. “Get up extra early to be there right when the doors open, or figure out a way to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break,” advises Mike.

Inner-City Gyms vs Suburban Gyms

The peak hours at gyms could vary slightly depending on your location and the gym’s hours. For example, inner-city gyms are usually full of workers and as a result can have three peaks during the day, which are:

  • Before work: 6:30AM – 8AM
  • Lunch break: 11AM – 1PM
  • After work: 5PM – 7:30PM

Suburban gym peak hours can vary slightly for different reasons depending on the population. For example, if a parent drops their kids off at school in the morning, they might head to the gym afterwords. So peak hours could look something like this:

  • Early: 6:30AM-9AM
  • Mid-day: 9:30AM-11AM
  • Late: 5:30PM-8PM

Weekdays vs Weekends

During the weekend most people workout early — between 8AM-11AM — to get their workout over with. If you don’t mind working out weekends, try to go in the afternoon. And 24-hour gyms have the same above mentioned peaks, but if you want the gym to yourself you could do a graveyard shift workout and head to the gym between 10PM-6AM.

Google It

I recommend googling your local gyms to see their peak hours. You will generally see the same pattern, but you may come across a gym that has little to no traffic during a particular hour or day that works best for you. 

For example, here are the peak hours of our local 24 Hour Fitness and Planet Fitness in the Los Angeles area:

24 Hour Fitness Peak Hours on Mondays.

Planet Fitness Peak Hours on Mondays.
24 Hour Fitness Peak Hours on Tuesdays.
Planet Fitness Peak Hours on Tuesdays.
24 Hour Fitness Peak Hours on Wednesdays.
Planet Fitness Peak Hours on Wednesdays.
24 Hour Fitness Peak Hours on Thursdays.
Planet Fitness Peak Hours on Thursdays.
24 Hour Fitness Peak Hours on Fridays.
Planet Fitness Peak Hours on Fridays.
24 Hour Fitness Peak Hours on Saturdays.
Planet Fitness Peak Hours on Saturdays.
24 Hour Fitness Peak Hours on Sundays.
Planet Fitness Peak Hours on Sundays.

As you can see from the above peak hours, the best times for me to go to the gym and avoid the crowd would be before 6AM, around noon, and after 9PM on weekdays; and in the afternoon or evening on Saturday; and anytime on Sunday. If you absolutely can’t avoid gym peak hours, read on below for other options.

Make a Resolution to Change Up Your Cardio.

Lines for treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes are the worst during this time of year– and forget about the 30-minute time limit. “If cardio is one of your must-dos at a gym, make a resolution to go machine-free until the crowds die down, usually around February,” says Mike. “Try going for runs outside, maybe around your gym’s neighborhood. Many parks have outdoor running tracks too.” 

You could also take this time to try other cardio equipment such as the rowing machine or stair climber. Use the punching bag. Use their open area and do jumping jacks, jump rope, or use their aerobic steps. Try something new and don’t be afraid to ask for help when using new equipment to make sure you are using it correctly.

Group Fitness

And last but not least, check out the group fitness classes. These days, there is something for everyone. Crowds usually aren’t a bad thing in a group fitness class because everyone motivates each other and there is a lot of energy in the room. Time seems to fly when you are in a group class you love. If your gym doesn’t have the class you would like at a time you want, feel free to bring it up to the staff. They may be able to accommodate your request because they wouldn’t want you to cancel your membership. Perhaps they could add more bikes to their spinning class, or add another class at the same time. At the end of the day, just make sure you are getting the most out of what you are paying for. Happy New Year!

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