10 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Gym Membership

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Posted 07 Aug 2008 in Soulville

SoulvilleAt least once a year, everyone declares they are going to get in shape and many people join gyms.

If you are in college, you probably have a free or discounted gym on your campus! Also, check out gyms with discounts for going early in the morning or late at night, or for having a friend sign up with you.

People quit going to the gym for various reasons, but here are a 10 ways to keep the mojo going.

  1. Be realistic with your goals – You can have the overall goal to lose 75 pounds, but break that up into little chunks. Eating better, not eating out so often, reducing daily caloric intake (be reasonable with this), doing x minutes of cardio, increasing how much you lift by x pounds, do x push ups or sit ups, lose x inches, etc. You see where I’m going.
  2. Work out with a partner – If you know someone else is counting on you, you’re more apt to get up and get going. Sometimes it’s OK to work out with someone who is on the same level as you, sometimes you’ll want to work out with someone who does go to the gym frequently because it will motivate you to do more.
  3. Set a routine – don’t just go to the gym willy-nilly. Set and stick to your gym schedule like you do your class or work schedule. If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule your gym time in the morning. If you’re not a night person, don’t schedule your gym time at night. Plan enough time for getting there, changing clothes, warming up, working out and showering. For me, I try to do a workout of an hour and a half to two hours. So my gym schedule is 3 hours total. No block of time big enough? Split your workout in two – do cardio in one interval and weights in another.
  4. back to school time!

  5. Get a locker at the gym – You may have hated high school gym locker rooms, but this is a huge benefit to you. You have a place to toss your stuff if you’re going in between activities and you have a place to keep gym only necessities. My locker always has a couple towels, flip flops (communal showers still can be gross), a full set of toiletries (including toothbrush), wash cloths and at the beginning of the week I put a weeks worth of gym clothes in there. At the end of the week I put all the clothes and towels in my duffel to take home to clean. Showering at the gym saves you time from having to go home and means you can do as intense a workout as you want even if you have that business meeting right after. Even if you don’t have anything to do right after, it refreshes your muscles and keeps you feeling great!
  6. Ask for help when you need it – This tip goes for the newbies and the oldies. If you don’t know what exercises to do to work certain muscles or you need a spot, ask a gym worker. That’s what they are there for. Even the lame kid who is just there for work study or the guy making minimum wage!
  7. Forget that other people are there – Yes I said it! Too many people, guys and girls, are worried about what other people think of them at the gym. If you focus on your own workout, you’ll feel better and do better. If you want to wear spandex because it feels better, wear it (I do, now what?). The gym gets dangerous when people start paying way too much attention to others and not enough to their own behaviors. Guys try to lift more than they can to impress girls (or guys), girls are afraid to try new workouts because the guys will be ogling at them (or vice-versa). Who cares! At the end of the day if you didn’t get your good workout in for trying to impress or not look bad, that’s on you. Just don’t be the person who is singing at the top of their lungs on the stair climber or the guy who is running far too fast to be on the elliptical machine. Thanks.
  8. Super Gulf

  9. Bring water with you during your workout – Replenishing yourself with water during your workout is a great benefit because it lets you keep going strong and finish out. Drink water and maybe a sports drink after to keep yourself from dehydrating.
  10. Diversify your workout – If you do the same thing every day it will get boring after a while. If you’re always on the elliptical, try riding a bike. If you usually do three specific ab exercises, try three more. If you want an overall workout but are tired of being in the gym, go to the swimming pool. Play basketball or volleyball with some friends. Play kickball or soccer. Toss it up every once in a while and change your regimen once a month to keep your muscles happy.
  11. Don’t do exercises that hurt a lot – There is a difference between soreness and pain. Soreness is good, pain is not. If you are genuinely hurting, your muscles are injured. There are many different exercises, weight bearing and non, that can work each muscle. There are many different ways to get a cardio workout. For me the treadmill absolutely hurts my knee, but the elliptical doesn’t and neither does the bike. Especially if you have a previous injury, consult with the personal trainer on site or with your doctor to find exercises that let you be at peace.
  12. Enjoy it! Don’t go to the gym because someone else tells you to go. Go because you want to. When you find something you like there, stick with it and live it up! If a traditional gym isn’t for you, find an exercise or sport that you do like and do it. Join a club team or an intramural team. Being active in any way is better than not at all.

HarriMac enjoys a well lived life with a large serving of soul. Her special feature, Welcome to Soulville, appears every Thursday.

Creative Commons License photo credit: House Of Sims, Mesq

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