How to Get the most out of your gym membership
So you’ve bought a gym membership, now what?
The gymnasium is full of confusing equipment and intimidatingly-sculpted people who you’re too embarrassed to ask for help. Where are the instructions?
Yes, the gym is undoubtedly a confusing place for newcomers, so here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your gym membership.
1. Push off with a personal trainer
If your car broke down or needed a service, you would take it to a mechanic. Your health deserves the same, if not more, respect. Personal trainers can help you develop a workout regime that suits your individual goals, as well as your level of fitness and strength. They will introduce you to suitable machines and equipment and show you how to use them. They’ll tell you how many reps you should aim for with each machine, they’ll help you formulate a plan for your workout sessions and will no doubt have plenty of other useful tips. In the long run the investment will be well worth it. After all, they are the professionals!
2. Don’t be afraid of the weights
The bulky men sweating and grunting on the weight machines can be a little intimidating, but weight training is good for everyone, men and women alike. It’s a great way to reduce body fat and tone your muscles. It’s also fantastic for general health, when done correctly. As for the myth that weight training makes women look bulky… well it’s just that, a myth! Men who do lots of weight training will bulk up because they have higher levels of testosterone. For women, weight training helps tone muscles but does not add bulk.
See also: 5 fitness myths you probably believe
3. Push yourself
Buying a gym membership is good, turning up is great, but you know what’s even better? Really pushing yourself. It’s those moments when your muscles burn that are making you fitter and stronger. It’s not healthy to maintain that level of intensity for an entire session, but you should aim to push yourself at least couple of times during each workout. Whether it’s on the treadmill, doing squats or lifting weights, those extra reps you didn’t realise you could manage are the most valuable of all. Plenty of people turn up, have a cruisey session and give themselves a pat on that back afterwards, but if you’re serious about achieving your goals, you have to push yourself.
4. Plan your sessions
Walking into the gym without a plan can be very disorienting. There’s so much equipment to choose from that you often end up selecting something on a whim. Having a plan will save you that confusion and ensure you spend your time working out on the machines most suited to your goals. You should divide your time appropriately so that you don’t get carried away on one set of exercises at the expense of another. You should also review your plan from time to time as you begin to achieve your fitness goals, becoming fitter and stronger. Staff at the gym can help you, or fellow gym-junkies, but the best way to formulate a plan is through intermittent sessions with a personal trainer.
5. Don't be afraid to ask questions
Gym managers and personal trainers are usually glad to provide advice when it’s needed. It’s their job to help you. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself by drawing their attention – whatever you’re doing, they’ve seen worse. Other gym members can also be very helpful if you approach them during a natural break in their routine. And of course, don’t interrupt personal trainers when they’re with a client.
6. Try a group fitness class
Group fitness classes are great for people starting out at a gym because they’re an opportunity for you to meet like-minded people. You are likely to have more fun exercising in a group than working out on your own. Plus, they’re available in a variety of styles, so you can pick-and-choose to suit and your fitness goals and complement other workout activities.
7. Commit to regular sessions
This may seem obvious, but it can often be the hardest thing to do. You buy your gym membership with the best of intentions but life soon takes over, you lose motivation and don’t end up using it. So here’s a gentle reminder, your memberships means nothing without you there! Locking in a regular time is the best way to help you develop a healthy habit. And don’t panic if you miss a session, just make sure you get to the next one.
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Disclaimer: This article provides general advice only. Readers should seek independent professional advice from their general practitioner or dietician in relation to their own individual circumstances or condition before making any decisions based on the information in this article.