Going to the gym (at least, going to a lot of gyms) can be kind of intimidating.
Every time I went to the gym on my college campus, it was always full of fit, tan, muscular people who didn't look like they needed to be there. It was so intimidating that I only went once, perferring to banish myself to the older, smaller gym at the other end of campus, the one where the normals worked out.
When I joined the Church Health Center Wellness center after I moved back to Memphis, one of the first things that made me love it (other than the sliding scale price) was that it was a brand new, beautiful workout facility full of very normal looking, very friendly people.
That's really one of the things that sets CHC Wellness apart – there are no mirrors, there's a strict dress code, and the staff works with new members to set workout plans that are healthy and doable.
CHC Wellness employee Colli Bounds puts it like this: "There are people of all different body types here. You never feel like the only fat kid working out with fitness models. Everyone is super supportive, and the regulars get to know you and check up on you.
Bounds and her office mate Sonia Taylor have been exercising together daily at CHC Wellness since October 2011. "It's easier to work out together," Tayor said. "It keeps us accountable." Bounds agrees, joking that "there are days when I don't want to work out, but Sonia is right there with the guilt trips."
(Colli Bounds and Sonia Taylor, photographed at Church Health Center wellness.)
CHC Wellness is run by Church Health Center, a Memphis non-profit that provides affordable healthcare to the city's working uninsured. It's a gym, but it's way more than that. It's also a community center, place to take group classes (like yoga, zumba or cooking), pool and basketball court. And just like Church Health Center's clinic, Wellness membership prices are based on individual income.