If you live in the city, joining a gym is one of the most convenient ways of getting fit, increasing or maintaining muscle tone, and reducing stress. We’re constantly hearing about the benefits of working out. And the idea is valid. Everyone needs to work out in some capacity. Of course, the gym is not a magical place where everyone that enters walks out fit. There are pros and cons of joining a gym and we’ll look at those in this article. Gyms and fitness centres offer opportunities for improving the lives of busy people in so many ways.
Thinking about joining a gym? Read this first.
Pros and Cons of joining a gym
1. You’ve got everything you need to get fit in one place.
2. Having a dedicated place to workout can be motivation enough for some people
3. Access to advice from fitness professionals.
4. Can be a social activity for people that want to connect with and get motivation from others.
5. Some gyms offer great value for off-peak visiting times
1. It can be expensive
2. Opening hours are not always convenient
3. The gym environment can feel a bit stale for some people
4. Working out at home can be cheaper, more convenient, and just as effective. But requires dedication.
5. People with low self-confidence can feel intimidated by the picture-perfect bodies.
What should you keep in mind before signing up for gym membership?
Your Gym Sessions Should be Hard
Many people start a fitness regime with great intentions of achieving their personal goals quickly, only to abandon everything when things get tough.
If you’re planning on using gym time to read a book while moving your legs slowly on the stationary bike, it might be better to save your money.
A concept called progressive overload applies to fitness training and refers to the fact that the fitter we get, the more we need to push ourselves to improve. It’s a never-ending game. And many people can’t handle this. You’re not expected to break personal records, or become a fitness model in a year, of course. But you should be pushing for that extra 1% a week to try to level up your game.
Cleanliness Means High Standards Across the Board
High hygiene standards should be a priority of any gym you join. The last thing you want is to pick up a bug or cold that will set you back.
One way to tell how much a business cares about its customers is the condition of the toilets. Dirty bathrooms show a lack of care for you and for the gym owner’s business.
Wash your hands after using the equipment have a special towel for wiping down equipment and another for wiping your brow. Don’t mix them up.
You could also use hand sanitizers occasionally but we don’t recommend the regular use of these.
Figure out What Kind of Gym-goer You Are
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you need motivation to train?
If you can’t train without someone telling you what to do, you need find a personal trainer or take part in some form of classes. Personal trainers can be expensive so the budget option is to try one of the in-house classes at your gym. Alternatively, join a HITT club or CrossFit box.
2. Are you more inclined to workout if there’s a class with a fixed schedule?
Find a gym with a class timetable that matches your ideal workout times.
Again, the fewer opportunities you have to avoid working out the better.
3. Do you prefer cardio or weights-based workouts?
Never join a club without checking out the equipment. If treadmills are your thing, you’ll be disappointed to see that the solitary treadmill is always in use. If you prefer weight training, ask if there are enough racks and stations to allow you to arrive, workout, and leave, without wasting precious time.
4. Are you competitive?
If you need a partner to edge you on, or you like the challenge of beating other people, Spinning classes, HITT, and CrossFit are good options. You can also bring a friend to the gym and challenge them to a daily workout competition.
5. Do you like variety or are you a creature of habit?
If you want to shake up your training regularly, find a fitness centre that offers classes in a range of different exercise modalities. Boxercise, spinning, CrossFit, HITT, TRX, BodyPump, and BodyBalance type classes are all excellent options for mixing up your routine.
Leave the Phone Behind, Please!
Taking selfies in the gym, scrolling your Instagram feed, and chatting with friends will only distract you and waste your time. Don’t take the phone onto the gym floor if you want to get the most out of your time (unless it’s for listening to music – you can set it to silent).
If you focus on maximising your precious time in the gym, you’ll get more done, and you’ll feel refreshed when you leave. Many people blame the gym for their lack of progress when the truth is that they’ve spent all their time on their phones and none of their time working out.
Vary your Workouts
When people stick to the same tired old routine two things happen
1. They get bored and possibly quit training
2. They see little improvement in their fitness and body image.
The body is remarkably good at adapting. For example, once you’ve run 5 km a day for a month, your body will adapt to the workout and it will begin to feel easier. The benefits gained from each run will start to diminish.
What to look for?
1. Make sure that the gym or fitness centre is conveniently located. Ideally it should be easy to get to on the way to work or returning home. The fewer barriers you put up the better. You’ve got no excuse to go if you pass by the gym twice a day.
2. Find out if there’s a joining fee. Factor this into the overall cost.
3. Is there an additional cost for classes?
4. Visit the gym and watch the gym floor. Can you see instructors actively helping people and patrolling the gym or are they sitting behind a desk scrolling their Facebook feed?
5. Try to visit at the time you plan to work out. How many people usually train at that time? Waiting for equipment not only wastes your time but it can demotivate you.
Where to find a gym, fitness class, or fitness centre
Don’t just rely on Google for answers. Websites like ClassPass, and the MindBodyOnline App will help you find local places to workout. You’ll also see how other people rate these locations.
Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, and Instagram can also help with your research.
Tips for making your gym experience a success
1. Gradually increase the volume and intensity of your workouts. Beginners and people returning to the gym after an extended break are often overly enthusiastic. The result is a sore body, and the negative effects of over-training.
2. Think of your health and wellness as a priority for your life and business. Too many people put fitness last on their list of priorities. But the reality is that you can’t excel in all areas of life if your body is unable to perform at its best. Make the gym one of your healthy habits for life.
3. Get regular massages to clear away muscle knots. This is a great strategy in the long-term for preventing injury and keeping you in fitness for life.
4. Have a friend hold you accountable. One clever way to incentivize your gym visits is to ask your friend to check if you went to the gym when you said you would. If not, you pay a fine. You can even use services like Stickk.com. If you don’t show up to the gym, your friend will authorise a fine that is automatically. People are often more scared of losing something than gaining something. So use the psychological trick of the threat of losing money to motivate yourself.
5. Try to sleep a full 8 hours every night. This is one of the most important things you can do to help you recover and enjoy the workouts.
6. Buy good footwear. Using runners (sneakers) that have seen better days could create back and lower limb problems. If you put your body through tough exercises, then you should make sure that your contact with the ground is through high quality shoes that cushion impacts and allow your feet to move naturally.
A fully qualified Complementary Health Practitioner, Siobhan brings over twenty-five years of working and training experience to The Bodywise Clinic. Member of the Irish Massage Therapy Association.
Originally trained in Canada, Siobhán has also studied in New Zealand, the UK and Ireland in the fields of Remedial Deep Tissue and Sports Massage, Lymphatic Drainage Massage, Pregnancy Massage, Dry Needling, Low Level Laser Therapy, Smoking Cessation, Reflexology and Reiki. Siobhán is constantly upgrading her skills and recently studied a course in Orthopaedic Massage and Pain Management.