It will all work out
Tips for joining a gym
Thinking of joining a new gym in January? You’re not alone. For thousands of Canadians, the new year brings an opportunity to make life changes in the health and fitness department.
A recent poll had “losing weight” as the most popular new year’s resolution, beating out “spending more time with friends and family,” “getting out of debt” and “quit smoking or drinking” by a healthy margin.
According to Statistics Canada, approximately 6.8 million Canadian adults ages 20 to 64 are overweight, so it’s not surprising that losing weight is common motive for many new gym-goers.
If you are one of the thousands thinking about joining a gym for the first time — or just starting over — the experts suggest you consider the following:
Pick the right gym
“There are a lot of factors involved in finding the right gym; the biggest of which are cost, proximity and demographic,” said Lorissa Dong, director of sales and marketing at Talisman Centre.
For others, the culture of a gym takes priority. Women-only facilities such as Spa Lady may appeal to some female customers more than co-ed, while someone determined to build their muscles may gravitate towards a gym with like-minded patrons.
Consider the cost and contract
Gym memberships can be expensive — the average cost is between $35-65 a month — so make sure you know what you are signing up for. The variance in costs from gym to gym is typically due to the quality of the facility and the range of services available. So, while some gyms may charge more, it’s usually because they have more to offer.
Most gyms have some form of membership contract. Read it closely. If it has an automatic renewal clause, make sure you’re reading the fine print before signing. Many gyms also have initiation fees, but not all, so shop around — there are lots of New Year’s specials, but make sure you get the best bang for your buck, and those washboard abs you’re after.
Pay specific attention to the cancellation policy. It’s good to know what happens if you have to cancel your membership. Some gyms offer pro-rated refunds after a certain period of time as passed, which provides some flexibility if you are unhappy with your choice.
According to StatisticsBrain.com, nearly 70 per cent of people who buy gym memberships never use them. If you invest, you’ll want to find ways of staying motivated.
Dong said her advice for getting your money’s worth is to “use a journal and write things down. People who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them.”
However, she cautioned, “Don’t measure success by looking at a scale. Improved flexibility, strength and endurance are much better indicators of progress. Building good habits takes three to four months.” So, be patient and results will come.
Cory Maystrowich said it’s about how you perceive your work out. “Don’t make working out a chore,” he said. “Instead, make it fun.”
When setting goals, make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
“Work out with friends or loved ones, but if you can’t do that, tell them what you are doing. It helps keep you accountable.” Maystrowich added.
January is a high traffic month. Gym regulars aren’t always happy to see mobs of new people competing for space in spin class or at the bench press, and following the rules of etiquette goes a long way towards friendly co-existence. Taking time to follow a few simple rules of etiquette ensures the workout experience is enjoyable for everybody.
Dong said for all gym users — not just newcomers — the most important rules are remembering to wipe down equipment, putting weights away and sharing. Talisman Centre is one fitness centre that offers an orientation program for all new members to ensure everyone knows the basics.
Work with a trainer
Don’t be intimidated by gym trainers. They can help you reach your goals more efficiently without hurting yourself.
Maystrowich said, “Trainers have valuable knowledge. They’re there to inspire and motivate, but they are also going to show you most effective way to do things, which can help you avoid bad habits or even injuries.”
Try something new
Finally, be sure to experiment. Don’t be afraid to try group fitness classes. There is a wide range of activities to choose from. Talisman Centre offers over 60 classes weekly, including boot camp, cardio kickboxing, deep water fitness, maximum step, power cycle and yoga to name a few.
Having a social experience can make the difference between a fun, engaging workout, and a boring and dry experience.