New Year’s Resolution? 10 Tips to Get the Most out of Your Gym Membership
Selecting a fitness facility any time of the year can be an intimidating endeavor. While joining the wrong gym can be a costly mistake. Choosing the correct facility will result in many long term positive mental, social, and physical benefits.
Research has shown that exercise can improve mild to moderate depression, body composition, decrease stress, and manage a multitude of blood markers such as cholesterol and A1C. Exercise will also reduce your risk of falls, pain, and allow you to remain active throughout your lifespan.
With this quick list, you can be on your way to a healthier lifestyle without the stress of joining the wrong gym.
Find a gym that fits your availability
You are more likely to utilize the facility if it is located close to home, within 15 minutes if possible. Look for places that have hours that accommodate your work and home schedule. Trial a gym if possible, some facilities will allow a one week to a one month trial. If you are able to get a trial membership, visit at different times to observe how crowded the gym is at those times. Speak with the employees to answer any questions you might have regarding joining, cleanliness, equipment service, and facility updates.
Set short-term and long-term goals
This will help form a plan to start a regular schedule, which will make the most of your investment. Setting a goal will help initially when starting, but also provide motivation later. If a gym costs $30 a month, but you only go once a week then each gym session will be seen as a high price per service. With regular usage the fee will seem more manageable and worth the investment, potentially for as little as a dollar per day.
Does the gym have the equipment that you need?
Once you have a goal written down your needs from the facility will be more evident. In order to reach your goals ensure the facility meets your equipment needs. No piece of equipment is an end-all for joining or not joining a facility. If you’re concerned with a missing piece of equipment ask the facility for ideas on modification or using a similar piece of equipment.
Look into available classes/extra opportunities
Child care, amenities, and personal trainers: You may enjoy working out alone, but in the future you may want to work out with other people. A group environment can be motivating to maintain your attendance. You may also want to hire a personal trainer to attain a goal that you’ve been struggling to attain on your own.
Learn how to use all equipment properly
Most facilities will provide a free introduction to the gym or a free trial with a personal trainer at which point these types of questions will be answered. It is essential to know how to properly use a piece of equipment to ensure safety.
Pay attention to your nutrition
Get some energy beforehand either by eating a regular meal or adding in a nutrient-dense snack. Proper nutrition and hydration will lead to the best workout experience. A post workout protein and carbohydrate meal or drink will also help you recover.
Speak with your MD and or PT about concerns
Speak with your MD/PT regarding any concerns you might have before starting or continuing. If possible, connect your personal trainer with your MD/PT. If you have a history of injuries or pain, seeing your MD/PT first may help mitigate those symptoms. Upon completion of physical therapy, your PT will be able to develop a plan for you to use at the fitness facility.
More than cardio
Most people need resistance exercise to meet their goals. Research is showing that the best form of exercise for weight loss is resistance exercise. The aging process will have a natural loss of muscle mass and strength. So to combat the aging process adding weights into your routine will help stave off the negative effects of weight gain, weakness, and loss of balance while allowing you to continue with the activities that are important to your life.
Are there other benefits outside of the activity?
Tell your insurance company because some insurance companies will have health insurance credit for regular attendance. Tell your friends to help keep you on track for reaching your goals.
Are you having fun yet?
If you’re not enjoying your time at the gym you are unlikely to continue going. Integrate all forms of exercise. Change up your routine. Reward yourself. Go without headphones for a day. Try a different time of day. Get help and ideas from a personal trainer, group class, or a physical therapist.
Adam Jones is a physical therapist with Beebe Rehabilitation Services, which has four locations throughout Sussex. He works out of the Millville office. Learn more about Beebe Physical Rehabiliation.