Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tips for Joining a Gym – Get the Most for the Fitness Dollar

How to Keep From Wasting a Gym Membership
Joining a gym is a big decision and a large investment of money, but many people will purchase a membership only to drop it just a few months down the road. Find tips for getting connected, motivated, and enjoying results from a membership at a gym in order to make the most of the investment.

Get the Latest Information on the Hours


Find out the gym hours and ask about scheduled closings as well. For example, a swim team may have meets in the pool or the group exercise room might be scheduled to be closed when the floor is refinished. Some facilities may have affiliates that members may be able to visit for free if one facility is closed for seasonal cleaning.

Gyms may have an altered schedule during holidays or may close due to weather conditions, so it can be helpful to ask about those policies ahead of time to avoid driving to the gym only to be disappointed because it is closed.

Decide on a Schedule

Pick up a schedule of classes and/or sports leagues or find out if that information is regularly updated on the gym's web site. They may post current information such about schedules through social media as well. It helps to choose a schedule that is convenient with one's own lifestyle and time needs.

Many people tend to flock to branded classes, but other classes may also have excellent instructors with more space for exercising. Some exercise classes may require special equipment and/or fees, be open only to certain groups, or require early sign-up, so make sure you know requirements for classes you plan to attend.

Keep in mind that instructors may teach different classes in a different manner and two instructors may teach a class in very different ways. It also helps to have a secondary plan for exercising in case an unexpected cancellation occurs and to be willing to try new classes and/or instructors.

You might ask about when the gym tends to be less busy if you have a flexible schedule and prefer to stay out of crowds. As a general rule of thumb, gyms that offer childcare are often less crowded when the childcare area is closed. Those who like to work out solo or with a buddy will find that it helps to create a schedule for exercising on a regular basis.

Tour the Gym to Get Your Money's Worth
Take a Tour of the Gym Facility

Even if you only have plans to use a single area of the gym, it helps to get a tour so that you are aware of the layout of the gym and all exercise areas and equipment. Sometimes seeing additional areas might encourage one to try something new.

Knowing the location of emergency exits, fire extinguishers, AEDs, and emergency procedures might be something one would never expect to use, but could potentially save a life. It also helps to know where hand sanitizer, bathroom facilities, childcare areas, lockers, etc. are located.

Learn to Safely Use the Equipment

Many gyms offer information on how to safely use equipment, and this can help one to avoid injury. Getting hurt and acquiring medical bills due to a preventable injury can certainly put a damper on a fitness program. Always check with a healthcare provider before starting or changing any fitness routine.

Computerized equipment is available at some gyms that can help members to track their progress, remind them of settings on weight lifting equipment, or provide feedback regarding technique or the overall fitness routine. If a gym offers initial free personal training or the opportunity to talk with a fitness coach, this can be a great opportunity to develop an individualized routine that suits one's own fitness needs.

Discover Incentives and the Social Aspect

Most people get discouraged or bored with a fitness routine at some point. Some gyms will offer incentives in order to keep people motivated or may offer fresh ideas for cross-training. People who are goal-oriented or even a bit competitive may particularly enjoy a fitness challenge. Modest tweaks to a fitness routine might provide much greater results.

Some people particularly enjoy the social aspect of a gym and may find it helpful to develop a network of friends who regularly meet to exercise. Developing new friendships may be time well invested, particularly if those people can serve as a sort of support group or accountability partner.

Make Fitness Worth the Investment
Get the Most for the Money at the Gym

Some people may purchase a gym membership only to discover that they rarely ever use the facility. Becoming familiar with the facility and equipment and developing a fitness plan that is convenient and individualized to meet one's needs may help ensure that the gym membership turns into a wise investment. Making a few good friends along the way can be the icing on the fat-free cake!

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