(From an interview of Ian Kelley by intern Jake Lee for his Graduation Project)

Q. What is the best way to create a workout routine?

A. The best way to create a workout routine is to clearly define your fitness goal(s) short and long term. Then design your routine to match your goals. Your goal needs to be realistic, measurable, and believable while maintaining a deadline.

Q. What are the benefits of fitness?

A. Improved quality of life through better health, you’ll live longer, have more energy, more strength, an improved immune system, an increased self-confidence, you’ll look and feel younger…. if you don’t have your health nothing else matters.

Q. What foods contribute to bad health?

A. Jack Lalanne said “If it’s made by man don’t eat it.” Any processed, packaged, man made food, anything with artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, MSG, hydrogenated oils, fast food, most restaurant food, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, sucrose, dextrose, flours, cakes, cookies, most breads, soda, most baked goods, candy and refined carbohydrates in general.

Q. What foods contribute to good health?

A. The healthiest foods I know of are:

· Natural and organic fruits and vegetables like kale, apples, grapefruits, garlic, collards, sprouts, spinach, green beans, lemons, broccoli, asparagus, melons, eggplant, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.

· Healthy whole grains and legumes like lentils, oats, brown rice, quinoa, barley, black beans, pinto beans, etc.

· Lean, clean proteins like wild fish, pastured poultry, free-range eggs and grass-fed beef.

· Healthy fats like cold processed coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, raw nuts, olives, flaxseeds, chia seeds, etc.

Bee products like raw honey, propolis, and bee pollen are also amazing super foods because of all the health benefits. Honey is the only truly natural sweetener because bees make it.

Q. What are some small and easy lifestyle changes someone could make to improve overall health?

A. Exercise your mind every day. Never try to escape from thought. Unplug your television and video games and read a book. All fitness begins in the mind so a fit mind is even more important than a fit body. Eliminate anything from your life that alters your mind and stops you from clear, rational, thought and judgment. Use your own mind to decide what you believe. Sing, go dancing, laugh, give hugs often, play with children and pets often and love yourself. Woops, I guess those aren’t small and easy changes so how about just eating oats and fruit for breakfast instead of cereal!

Q. What do you think is the future of fitness?

A.  I don’t know about the distant future but in the near term the trends are:

1. A revival of Functional Training, body weight exercises and old school calisthenics as people steer away from weight lifting and pursue core strength, stability and balanced fitness.

2. Fitness Boot Camps providing efficient and intense total body, strength, core and cardio workouts combined with nutritional counseling.

3. A decline in heavy weight training from the public’s “negative bodybuilding perception” and widely believed myth that weight training will make you big and bulky when in reality only excess calories can make you bigger and bulkier not heavy weight lifting alone.

4. HIIT or high intensity interval training. Not to be confused with interval training. The idea of HIIT is to push yourself to an extreme level for short periods of time and requires serious motivation. Crossfit is an example.

Playa Del Carmen Gyms

The 2 top Playa Del Carmen gyms are Evolve Fitness Gym on calle 24 between 5th and 10th ave. and the gym on 1st ave. between Constituyentes and calle 16 norte. They are both conveniently located in the center of town near the beach, air-conditioned and have all the amenities you would expect in a good gym. There are a few other cheaper, smaller, crappier gyms without air-conditioning, far from the center of town that I would not recommend so will not bother mentioning.

These 2 super playa del carmen gyms have very similar pricing at around $12. usd for a day pass and monthly membership from around $50.-70. usd. So which is the best gym in Playa Del Carmen? I work at both gyms and can offer you a good unbiased opinion of the features and benefits of both and let you decide.

First of all. yes I know the monthly membership price of both gyms might be a little more than you are used to if you are from the United States. But people please, $12. a day is really not bad and both gyms currently offer a 9 or 10 visit pass that can be used by 2 or more people for an even lower rate. You also have to understand that being a beach vacation town with a mostly transient customer base these guys really can not offer the free passes and cut rate memberships you might be used to from Planet Fitness or local gyms back in the States. If price is really important to you Evolve Fitness is the winner with a slightly lower prices on their passes and package memberships. They also offer an option to freeze your long term membership if you live part time in Playa. Pretty Decent.

The Gym

playa del carmen gyms

playa del carmen gyms playa del carmen gyms

The gym has a clean, swanky, modern look and nice color scheme. It also has the newest, very nice tread mills, spin bikes and overall really good, well-maintained equipment in excellent condition. They even have 3 new Woodway Curve Treadmills that are pretty slick. If you are all about the equipment and machines the gym is the clear winner. And although both Evolve and the gym have a great amount of group fitness classes the gym of Playa Del Carmen also has a new special studio dedicated to yoga and pilates and yoga has always been big there.

The Bad. Although they recently expanded and are quite big now, the gym still feels very small and crowded because they have tried to pack to much equipment and machines into their available space. If you are going to try to do any kind of barbell workout or functional training you will find it very complicated  and challenging with the minimal floor space. They also have a lot of good equipment for crossfit and functional training workouts but you would not know it because it is mostly kept tucked away in the closet of  the group fit studio. If you are into yoga, cardio machines and solo workouts on machines the gym is awesome.


Evolve Fitness Gym Playa Del Carmen

playa del carmen gyms

Evolve Fitness has a friendly staff and is a local favorite. Their big, open gym floor leaves plenty of space for everyone. You will find a beautiful pilates reformer studio on the first floor, a multitude of group fitness classes, spinning and even pole dancing classes. They have even recently added a child playspace area!

As a personal trainer I find it to be much easier and better to train clients at Evolve because of the big, spacious, well thought out functional fitness area and bigger open free weight area. There is a lot more personal trainers to choose from at Evolve so if you are looking for a trainer you are certain to easily find the right fit. If you are into Crossfit workouts, Barbells, Functional Training, gymnastics or Personal Training Evolve Fitness is the clear winner. They also have some very interesting and unique pieces of equipment like the Quad Mill and Jacobs Ladder.

The Bad. Some of the equipment is a little older and well worn from use but I would not be surprised if things were upgraded soon. The main gym area is also a little dark for me but I think many people like it that way. The overall vibe is more gritty and hardcore which for me is just fine.

Updated July 7, 2016- Evolve on 5th Avenue repainted the ceiling and walls white and yellow the gym is much is much lighter and has a better ambiance. They also now have a location in Tulum. Check out there new website here:

So there you have it. The good, bad and ugly on Playa Del Carmen’s best gyms. I even know people who keep memberships at both because they like what they both have to offer. So which one is better? It would be like asking if oranges are better than apples. I like both.