By Dominic O’Sullivan
January is traditionally boom time for gyms as many of us set ourselves New Year goals to lose weight and get fit. However, as New Year’s resolutions are broken, thousands of us are wasting millions of pounds on gym memberships we simply don’t use.
In these tough economic times it makes no sense whatsoever to be wasting our hard-earned cash. Here are six tips to give you the ‘get up and go’ to make it to the gym throughout 2013.
Make sure your gym is right for you
Few of us would choose to work somewhere we didn’t enjoy it or where we couldn’t see any rewards. Take the same approach when choosing your gym. Ensure it isn’t too far away from work or home – if you have to drive 45 minutes to your gym it is easy to lose motivation. Does it open at convenient hours to fit with your lifestyle? Do you like the feel of it, do the staff seem knowledgeable?
Consider what facilities you are likely to use inside the gym. For example, if you only use basic machines do you really need to pay for membership at a sports’ club with spa facilities and exercise classes?
Check the contract terms!
Many gyms need to secure their income and have contract terms, just like your mobile phone or TV. Make sure you know your contract term and cancellation terms should the need arise, perhaps due to relocation, illness, injury, etc. Don’t be tied in to something you will regret later. OFT investigations have highlighted companies who sell long term memberships, including 24 month + contracts (avoid these!). A 12 month committed contract should be a maximum. Local Authorities will offer Pay as You Go options.
If you want to learn to play the saxophone could you teach yourself?
Help and guidance are always available, whether they are included as part of your fees, or accessible via personal training, it is likely you will benefit from some expertise. Beyond the ‘start-up’ appointment you should ask for longer term guidance – lack of results is a major factor in why more than 40% of new joiners quit within 3 months, don’t be a statistic – get proper advice. Even experienced exercisers can learn something new; trainers strive to keep up to date with new techniques etc. – they want to help, so use them!
Firm up your goals
If you were starting a new business venture you’d ask some challenging questions and set some achievable goals – treat your gym membership in the same way. Ask yourself why you have joined the gym in the first place and base your goals around this. Set out a plan which sees you reach achievable goals at three, six and 12 month marks – this way you can easily monitor your results and reward yourself when you reach your targets. It’s important to have a focus; it’s a long term commitment that will need you to reset goals periodically as you progress.
Try to not get stuck in the same routine as you will lose motivation. Every session should make you feel invigorated, if your gym offers fitness classes why not try one? The fun and competitiveness in Pilates, Zumba, kickboxing or any other exercise class may be the best motivation to get to the gym. This will also offer variety to your gym routine and provide a more enjoyable workout.
Going to the gym is not the answer to all our weight loss hopes. Research tells us that inactivity and sedentary lifestyle in between exercise workouts are a bigger risk factor in obesity and the negative effects on health. Be active as much as possible – walk more, drive less, take stairs not lifts, ride a bike and just move more!
Remember, an increase in activity may also increase your appetite; you can’t simply exercise without being mindful of the need for good eating habits. There is no need to become obsessive, but do plan meals and treats.
If you remain motivated you won’t have any trouble sustaining your gym membership. Take an mp3 player with songs to power through your workout and wear comfortable and appropriate clothes. Put your gym visits into your diary as appointments and mark on your calendar every day you have made it – that way you can easily track if your exercise plan is slipping. Even if you miss a planned workout it’s easy to catch up if you spend longer the next day or fit in a class at weekends.
Dominic O’Sullivan is owner of Club Management Partners, who provide consultancy and training to health club managers and staff. He has more than 25 years’ experience of working in the fitness management sector.
Do you have any tips for staying the course at the gym? Share them with us below or tweet me @RichardWhatIf on Twitter.