If your New Year’s Resolution involved anything to do with getting fit or losing weight, chances are you are considering joining the gym. The best thing about joining the gym in January is that there are plenty of money-off membership offers to take advantage of, so there are many frugal bargains to be found.
I’ve been a regular gym-goer for many years, and have some tips (many learnt the hard way) to help you know what to keep in mind when choosing your new gym, and how not to get ripped-off in the process.
Choose a gym that is in a practical location. If it’s too difficult to get to, the likelihood of your going regularly is greatly reduced. But choose carefully – going to a gym near your house means you have the whole trip home to decide that you don’t really want to go tonight, after all; while choosing a gym close to your office means you can workout on your lunch break, but makes weekend workouts more difficult.
Don’t pay for what you don’t need
There are many different types of gyms; from the no-frills council-run outfits to top-of-the-range health spas. More often than not, you get what you pay for. If you only want the cardio and weights, you will be fine in your local YMCA, but if you want a pool, sauna, towels, shampoo and a range of group classes, you will have to pay out more to get what you want. Having a clear idea of what you want from your workouts will help you decide which is best for you. There’s no point opting for a no-frills just to save money if you know that your favourite form of excercise is swimming or spin classes, you’ll just lose motivation.
Check out the goods
This is a big ‘un! Be sure to check out whole gym and the bathrooms before signing your membership agreement. Are the bathrooms clean? Are there enough lockers in the changing rooms? Are the cardio machines clean and in good repair or do half of them have ‘out-of-order’ notices on them? Is the air in the gym stuffy or fresh and well ventilated? Is there a good entertainment system or a nice view? All of these things can make a big difference to how well you will maintain your gym habits. I can’t stress checking the bathroom enough – if you feel like you will catch hepatitis from the bathrooms, you won’t want to workout.
Be sure to visit your gym at around the same time that you plan to work out. If it’s during a peak time, check that there aren’t people queuing for machines, that there’s hot water in the showers, and that you aren’t intimidated by the type of people using the gym. Working out is excellent for stress-release, but not if you have to fight for a treadmill!
Take advantage of the benefits
Many gyms add in extras to get people to join at this time of year so be sure to make use of them. Book yourself in for free personal training sessions, take advantage of the group fitness classes to keep your workouts new and interesting, and get your glow on in the sauna. You’re paying for it, you might as well benefit from them!
Many gyms have specials on during January, but that doesn’t mean you can’t press for an even lower price. Membership consultants have a lot of power to offer you what you want to make you sign on the dotted line, and as most of them work off commission, you might just get exactly what you ask for.
Know what you’re getting
Before you sign the membership agreement, be sure you know what you’re getting. Will you have to pay extra for locker use and towels? Is shampoo and conditioner provided? Is the contract 12 months, 18 months, or pay as you go? What are the cancellation conditions? Is there a cooling off period? Ask everything you can think of.
And the biggest tip to avoid getting ripped off?
Use your membership! It’s only a rip-off if you let it be. Going frequently is the only way to ensure you really get your money’s worth, so don’t let yourself down. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit, so make it as easy as possible for yourself to keep it up. Make time for working out, don’t expect it to just ‘happen’ – schedule your workouts like an appointment or meeting that can’t be missed. If you are a morning exerciser, pack your gym kit the night before so it’s hassle-free to leave the house. Buy yourself some yummy smelling shower gel and body moisturiser as a reward after your workout. Take group classes to mix it up and keep it interesting. Do whatever it takes to get your butt to the gym until it’s just a regular routine that you do without thinking about it.