When it comes to investments it is often the rule that spending more can guarantee a better return on your initial outlay. However, when it comes to health and fitness the same cannot always be said. Just because you spend money on the “right” gym gear; you join an exclusive health resort (as opposed to selecting a cheap gym membership) and you even treat yourself to a bespoke personal trainer, it does not me that you’ll attain the goals that you were hoping for.
Indeed, sometimes it is actually cheap gym membership (find examples here) that can deliver exactly what it is that you need. So here we look at choosing the correct gym for you and also see how spending more money doesn’t guarantee results. Not only might this save you money in the long run, it might also mean that you get the right gym first time and this can mean better results faster and that’s the best thing that you can hope for. So, it’s time to step away from the stereotype of all the gear and no idea and into the category of serious and moreover committed healthy individual. If you’re ready, read on to see what steps to take next.
The first rule when it comes to considering gym membership is why you think you need to. Have you a specific aim in mind, or are you just thinking of joining the gym because nothing else has worked so far and it seems the last resort?
Many people fall into the latter category, they see a gym as a salvation, and what’s worse they actually believe that the more you pay, the better the gym must be and hence the more likely you are to succeed. This is wrong. How you achieve your goals is nothing to do with how much your monthly gym subscription is, nor necessarily what equipment they can provide. You can get fit and lose weight running up and down the street, and all that costs is a new pair of decent trainers. So before you fall for all of the glitz and the glamour, remember that gyms make money from members, and in their eyes the best members are those that pay a monthly subscription without attending the gym at all – and there are many of these people about. They make the gym money and cost it nothing – a brilliant investment for the gym, a terrible one on the other hand for each of these individuals.
If you want to get healthier then you need to address all of your lifestyle, though not necessarily all at once. The gym is part of the solution, but not the only part. You need to think about the food you eat, the drink you consume (they are called beer bellies for a reason) and the general level of activity in your day to day life. You will probably at most be visiting the gym 3 or 4 times a week for up to 2 hours at a time. That’s less than 10 hours a week, when a week consists of 168 hours. It’s how you look after yourself away from the gym that can have the biggest effect on your weight, fitness and general health. But don’t immediately dismiss gyms, they can play an important role.
Most gyms are packed after Christmas, but then resolutions are broken come February. What you want is to still be attending as you approach the next Christmas holiday. The gym has to become a habit, and like all habits, good and bad, they are difficult to break. So once you establish the gym in your routine, it’ll likely stay there. One of the best places to start though is to find a gym that you like and enjoy attending. You’re much more likely to stick at it if you do. How is this achieved? Try a few before you commit, or better yet, try as many as possible before you commit. You’ll recognise the right place when you find it, but perhaps not as quickly as you’ll recognise the wrong one! These tips will help you get started.
The best gyms are usually local. By best it doesn’t mean the most fanciful or expensive, it means the ones that you are most likely to keep using week in week out. Having to travel too far is an immediate barrier to your attendance, and usually a journey of more than 15 minutes is deemed excessive. If the gym is too far away it doesn’t matter how great it is, there’ll be times, especially after work when you simply cannot be bothered to keep the commitment and attend. Once you start missing sessions, it too becomes habitual and before you know it, you no longer train regularly. It is always therefore best to sweat local, it’s your though whether that’s local to work or home.
Inductions at gyms are often given during quiet periods. It’s nice to be shown around the facilities when there is hardly anybody else around, it gives that feeling of exclusivity. Don’t be fooled though. Make sure that before you commit, you visit at the time you are most likely to be training e.g. pre or post work. How the gym looks at this time is much more relevant as that is when you are going to be there!
During your visit, also try and get a feel for the culture of the gym. Although you may be training on your own, that doesn’t mean you’re alone. Is it full of committed members, or people taking selfies for social media? Are the people friendly or intimidating? Whilst you should never join a gym just to make friends, there is nothing wrong with picking a friendly gym.
When you start training, you’ll probably want to try everything and every little piece of equipment available. In the long run, your training regime will reflect your goals and therefore your use of machines will probably be narrowed. Ensure then that there is a sufficient supply of the type of machines you’ll be using. It doesn’t matter that there are 25 treadmills if you are never going to use them, it does matter that there are limited free weights which you may need every workout. The gym equipment has to compliment your requirements.
As well as numbers, check that the machines are clean. It says a lot about a gym as to the standard of hygiene around the machines. The purpose of a workout is of course to sweat, but you want to train only in proximity to your own sweat, not somebody else’s. Hot, dirty, sweaty gyms will be a luxury resort for germs, and nothing stops your training quicker than an illness, other than say an injury. For injury avoidance, make sure the gym shows you the proper ways in which to use each piece of equipment. If they cannot or do not do this, question their commitment to you – there needs to be reciprocation!
Make sure you realise what you are paying, when and what access that gives you to the gym. Are classes extra or included? Is there a free personal trainer programme, or is that another outlay for you to consider – when it comes to gyms, many are looking to take as much as possible for little or no return. Avoid these type of gyms at all cost, and the best way to do so is to read any small print in the contract and read reviews or speak to existing members. Yes you want to look after your physical and mental health through exercise, but you need to be guarded about your financial health too! If there are deals, what happens when they expire and finally what happens if you want to leave or cannot train through injury – are you still going to paying a monthly fee for the right not to train? Gyms love people like that.
Health and fitness is a serious business, but it is a business. When it comes to gyms, they are looking to make profits for their owners. The best way to do so is to charge a high-a-price as possible for as little as possible return i.e. all take and no give. You have to gauge a gym from many more angles than simply the quality of their equipment. Whilst this is a shame, it is a reality.
So you’ve made a commitment to yourself to be healthier, and that’s great. What you need to be wary of now is making a commitment to a gym that you’ll regret. There are good gyms, and good people, but at all times put your own needs first – just as they do!