If the searing heat and glaring noonday sun haven’t give it away yet, summer’s here. Time to hide those stuffy jackets and sweaters and show some skin. It isn’t a surprise that the months right after the holidays leading up to summer are peak seasons for gyms and fitness establishments all over the country.
Whether for vanity or physical fitness—to each his or her own—one shouldn’t haphazardly choose a gym like one chooses a pair of socks. It’s a process that demands careful consideration. After all, if you pick a gym that’s hard to get to or that doesn’t offer you activities you’re interested in doing, you may find yourself making more and more excuses to justify putting off your exercise regimen. So if you’re planning to enroll in a gym this summer but don’t know where to start, here are some things to consider.
KNOW YOUR GOAL
Before you scout around for a potential gym, it’s imperative that you first determine what is it exactly you want. According to this article on WebMD.com, the first question to ask yourself is, “What do I want from my workout?” From there you can narrow down what kind of gym or fitness center suits you best. If you’re seeking to improve your cardiovascular endurance you may want to look for a gym with ample treadmills or Stairmasters. If you intend to build strength and tone your muscles, a gym with free weights or machines is for you. Look for a gym that offers what you need.
For your workout to actually work out, consistency is key. The primary reason why people don’t stick to their exercise routine is laziness. To counter this, choose a gym that’s accessible. If it’s not close to where you live, work, or go to school then deciding to go there will already be a challenge. Here’s another tip from WebMD.com: look for a gym that you regularly pass by on your way to work or going home. That way, it’ll easily become a part of your routine.
FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT
Don’t be afraid to inspect a potential gym. Look at the quality and quantity of their machines. Are they clean and well maintained? The threat of acquiring tetanus from simply lying on a bench press machine isn’t what you’re looking for. This article on Real Women’s Fitness says it’s important to have good quality machines that work well and hit the right muscles. They don’t have to be brand-spanking new. Also, if, for example, there’s only one treadmill, chances are you’ll be waiting for your turn. Look for a gym with a variety of equipment to minimize waiting time as well as to vary your workout.
Next to lack of time, cost is the second most popular excuse to not go to the gym. However, if you know what kind of workout you need, that will determine the kind of gym you’ll go to and, in turn, the fees you’ll be paying. If running on the treadmill is your thing, an expensive gym with three sets of free weights and lifting machines won’t be useful. If you simply want to take classes, there won’t be a need to pay the full fee that gives you a whole gym. The solution, according to Prevention Magazine, is to look and pay for the basics. You may also want to look into possible discounts you can get; for example, your college alma mater may just have a gym that offers discounts to its alumni.
Make sure the gym’s operating hours match with your work out schedule, says Prevention Magazine. That way, there are no excuses. Some prefer to work out early in the morning before going to work, while some visit the gym during their lunch break or at night. (Note: it’s been proven that those who work out during their lunch break suffer less fatigue at work than those who work out before or after work.) The key is to avoid the peak hours so waiting time is reduced. To do this, visit a potential gym at your intended workout hour and observe the number of people coming in and out, according to WebMD.com.
For some, it may be true that they go to a particular gym because of the people who also workout there. It’s not an attraction thing—although attractive people may be good motivation—it’s actually a conformity thing. Feminine, Firm and Fit advises looking for people in the same demographic as you. If you’re a beginner and the people around you are professional athletes, working out will be difficult and cause you to lose focus. Look for people who are at the same level as you are, not body-builders or runway models. This will enable you to focus and, for some, be motivated to be better than the norm.
The staff is as important as the equipment. Big muscles on a trainer don’t guarantee that he’s qualified and competent. Ask questions, says Real Women’s Fitness. Trainers should know what workout best suits your desired goal. They should be able to guide you throughout all the exercises, making sure you have correct form, as well as suggest a healthy diet, and in case of emergencies, know first aid.
CLEANLINESS AND SECURITY
This can’t be left unsaid: make sure the locker rooms are clean and well-maintained and that your belongings are secure. Bathrooms and shower stalls should always be clean. Other amenities like hand soap and toilet paper are also important. Lockers that can be secured are also a must. Remember, a gym is a public place.
Read the contract before you sign it. Some gyms have pre-termination clauses; if you bail out in the middle (or in the beginning) of your one-year contract, you might not get a refund or might still be required to pay the full 12 months. It isn’t recommended to sign up for more than a year, says Prevention Magazine. In fact, monthly or quarterly memberships are better, even if they may cost more, since you can opt to pull out anytime you want.
Some popular gyms like Fitness First and Gold’s Gym enable you to visit any branch as long as you’re a member. This is great for those who travel a lot. Other perks include a free trial—perfect for those who just want to see and test the gym first before committing to it.
At the end of the day, you should choose a gym because you want to be healthy. While the summer season is good motivation to begin, let this be the start of something that will eventually become a habit. That way anytime will be a perfect time to show some skin.
(Photo source: sxc.hu)