Just for the record, I love the gym! It really is my happy place. There are no distractions, no toddler asking me for things or saying ‘mum, mum, mum,’ I can just focus on me and my workout. But I understand its not for everyone and the last thing you want to do is to be locked into a contract, paying good money for something you aren’t using.Joining a gym can be expensive, most gyms have a joining fee as well as a weekly, monthly or annual fee depending on how you choose to pay. So its important to spend sometime and think about why it is you are joining the gym and the practicalities of it. Let’s look at some considerations:
- Time – Most of us lead busy lives already, working, studying, children, social life…. So it can be difficult to find the time to attend the gym on a regular basis. Take the time to think about how many days a week you can attend, what days, what time and how long for. Can you make a morning session or do you know that secretly you will hit that snooze button and miss your date with the gym. Make sure whatever time you choose, you are able to maintain that time slot long enough to make it a habit. Make a note of these times in your calendar and block it out for every week so you don’t over schedule.
- Expectations and requirements – you need to consider why you are joining the gym, what are your expectations, what do you want to achieve? Knowing why you are joining and what you want out of the gym will help give you some direction about what you need from a gym and what kind of workouts you want to undertake. Perhaps you enjoy the social aspect and want a gym that offers lots of group classes, maybe you require creche facilities, you might be recovering from injury and need a pool and specialised staff or you might want to lift some heavy ass weights and require a wide range of machines and free weights. All gyms may seem the same on the surface but they are actually all very different and offer different variations of services. Do your research, write down what you want in a gym and then ask lots of questions before deciding what’s right for you.
- Can I do it at home – working out from anywhere, anytime and with common household items, seems to be very on trend at the moment. Everyone is developing fitness programs you can do from the comfort and privacy of your own home and in your own time. This can certainly have its pros, its cheap (or even free), you can stay home with the kids, workout whenever suites you, easy to do on holiday, no waiting for machines and its private. Nothing wrong with this at all if it works for you. But if your like me and want to lift some serious weight, like using the latest machines or simply enjoy your time in the gym to zone out and focus on yourself, maybe its time to take the plunge to a gym.
- Ok so you have done your research and your ready to take the plunge and join a gym, but which gym? Its time to make use of the ‘free pass,’ just about all gyms offer it and it allows you to attend the gym for free for a once off visit. Make sure you go during the time you have scheduled for your workouts so you can get a sense of how crowded the gym will be. Check the parking situation, is there enough or will you struggle to find a spot. Do you get a good vibe from the gym, is it clean, is the equipment in working order, do you need to wait for machines, do you need to book to attend classes.
- You have done your research, used your free pass, found your dream gym and now its time to read the fine print. It may be cheaper to sign up for an annual membership but are you ready for that? Is there a cancellation fee? Can you put your membership on hold if you are away on holiday or sick?
Remember, this is your hard earned money you are paying out each week. You wouldn’t pay for clothes you cant wear or for food you don’t eat, so don’t pay for a gym you wont use. Do your research, take your time, try all the options and only then make the commitment to sign up.