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Joining a gym - gym membership - how to choose



Gym Membership

The new year means for many of us a new healthy start, and a chance to wipe the slate clean of all our bad habits. We've had enough feasting and drinking, and all that rich food has left many of us feeling sluggish and bloated. So now is the time to get our lives in shape, along with our bodies! A new year and a new you!

Healthy new year resolutions can bring thoughts of joining a gym, in order to get slim. January is, not surprisingly, the most popular time for new gym membership. Joining a health and leisure club can be a good kick-start to get back on the straight and narrow, and just the push you need to regain your healthy lifestyle again, especially if you feel you have gone off-track over Christmas.

Will joining a gym be the right choice for you?

  • Are you the type of person that will really enjoy going to the gym, or will you struggle to motivate yourself to going regularly?

  • You can now often opt for a short-term gym membership if you just need a little push to get back to a more healthy lifestyle and to lose those extra pounds. It will also give you a chance to see if you enjoy the experience and whether you are happy to make a regular commitment to getting fit.

    For others gym membership can be an enjoyable leisure activity that can become part of a healthy lifestyle, so signing up for annual membership is an easy choice. Many health and leisure clubs offer Open days where you can try out the facilities before you sign up. Or if you have a gym bunny friend you can often get a guest pass to accompany them and so decide if it is for you.

  • The gymWill you be more motivated by attending fitness classes rather than working out by yourself?
  • Check the gym runs regular and varied fitness classes and that they are included in your membership package. There are new and exciting crazes in fitness all the time, so you want a gym that offers these to their members.

    Zumba classes are very popular at the moment (Latin rhythms to an uplifting beat), but you'll want the option of the traditional fitness classes, such as Step, Aerobics, Spin or Boxercise. Attending a fun, motivational fitness class is a great way to burn calories and get you to the gym regularly. Check there are different levels for beginners and intermediates. Enquire about the booking system for classes - it's important if you want to attend a popular class, as there may be a waiting list system.

  • When would you want to go to the gym?

  • The hours you plan to attend a gym are important to consider before you choose your membership package. Off-peak gym membership is usually cheaper, than if you opt to go at the peak hours - after work from 5pm to 8pm. Check the weekend hours - these are often unrestricted.

    If you opt for a cheaper package you may be asked to pay an entrance fee when you attend, but make sure you check whether you might be better off with the next membership package up if you plan to visit more than a couple of times a week.

    Are children welcome and catered for, such as special classes, set swimming hours, etc. Make sure, if you want a quiet swim as part of your work-out, that there is a child-free pool period for members. Many gyms keep the lunch hours free for adult members.

    Take into account how far away the gym is as far as travelling from home or work is concerned. Does the closing time allow you enough time to get there after work for a workout, and leave time to shower afterwards?

    Are there plenty of free, secure parking places available? Quick easy access is important when time is limited.

gym members

How to choose a Gym

If you plan to join a gym there are are few things you should check out, before signing up for membership. There are lots of gyms, Health and Fitness clubs and Leisure Centres offering inviting membership packages. You just need to choose the best gym for your personal needs.

Before signing up for your gym membership check out these important points:

  • woman in gymCheck out all the facilities available at your chosen gym - ask for a full tour. If you only want to use the gym facilities and the Health and Fitness club you have chosen offers lots of facilities, such as a fully equipped gym, air-conditioned studios for classes, spa, sauna and swimming pool, ask whether you can opt for a limited or partial membership, with the option to upgrade at a later date if wanted.

  • Try and visit during peak hours to get the best idea of how busy the gym gets. If possible try a guest session with a member friend, if available, before you decide to become a member.

  • Are there plenty of varied exercise machines in the gym? There should be enough treadmills, cross trainers and exercise bikes to ensure you don't have to wait for these popular equipment choices during peak hours. Many of the best gyms operate a limited time on these machines during peak hours, i.e. 20 minutes

  • Notice if there is a warm-up/stretching area with exercise mats and plenty of equipment, such as Swiss exercise balls, ab crunch rollers, free weights, medicine balls, etc

  • Are there any payment holidays from the gym membership allowed? Some gyms allow you to take a break and miss one or more monthly payments. This can be useful when you go away on your hols, have to work away, or if you suffer an injury which prevents you from attending the gym for several weeks.

  • Is there a cancellation fee if you decide the gym or Health and Leisure club is not for you? Check whether you are tied into a year or more gym contract, whether you can cancel whenever you wish, whether personal circumstances such as redundancy, pregnancy or moving are accepted as valid reasons to cancel, and whether you have to give a period of notice. It's much easier at this point than trying to get out of a binding contract with legal implications later on. Take your time before you sign anything, and read all the small print on the contract.

keeping fit in the gym

  • Check out the changing rooms and showers too. Are there seperate male and female facilities, and what about if you bring children along? Are there baby changing facilities?

    Are there plenty of showers, mirrors, hairdriers, etc? Do the locker rooms look well maintained and clean?

    Notice if there is any broken gym equipment, toilets, showers, etc. Bad maintenance in a gym can impact on your exercise enjoyment.

  • Are there any gym social clubs, i.e running, walking, dancing? These can be an enjoyable change to your regular workout.

    The more fitness options and variations available the less likely you are to get bored.
    You are working on your body, but your brain needs to be interested enough to motivate you to go to the gym!

Top Tip

Try and get a friend to train with you - you are far more likely to go out to the gym on a winter's evening if you have arranged to go with someone else. Classes are more fun with a friend too!



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The top fat-burning gym machines

Consult your doctor or medical professional before beginning any diet or exercise plan.


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