Many of us have been guilty of joining a gym only to end up paying for it every week, but not using our membership. We have the very best of intentions at the beginning but somewhere along the way we stop going so frequently and then end up not going at all.
So what are the pros and cons of working out at a gym? Should we join, and are there any strategies for sticking with it once we join?
Overdoing it at the start
You know that exciting feeling you have when you first decide to lose weight? You might be full of energy and motivation, have visions in your head of fitting into that bridesmaid dress, or just feeling super fit and healthy.
You join up at the gym, book in your PT sessions, go to every group session on offer that week, really push yourself to the limit. Then reality hits… Your muscles are aching and you can barely move, your knees/ankles/back are swollen and in agony, and you are exhausted.
At this point you are probably thinking to yourself – how can I keep doing this?
This is a prime example of doing too much too soon, when your body is not used to that level of physical activity. You are more likely to experience muscle soreness and are also at a higher risk for injury.
The strategy: Listen to your body and take it slow. You might only be able to tolerate 10-15 minutes of cardio at first, and light weights. That’s completely fine. Each week work to add on a few minutes to this, or work to move up your resistance a half or one kilo every 4-6 weeks.
The most important part is to exercise at a level that you are confident that you can maintain long-term.
Did you score a few free PT sessions when you signed up? Fantastic! This is a great way to get a better understanding of how to use the equipment and to get a weights and cardio program to start with.
Bet you felt pretty motivated with someone there with you to help encourage you. Bet it was great getting guidance about minor adjustments in your technique to make the most of your workout.
Did you also find that once you were left to your own devices that your motivation levels dropped off, and you just weren’t as excited about coming to the gym as you were before?
The strategy: Find yourself a workout buddy like a friend, your spouse, or someone that you meet at the gym that can attend at the same time as you. You can offer each other encouragement and stay motivated. If you can’t find a buddy then perhaps investing in PT sessions weekly or even monthly could help.
Set it and forget it payments
Most of us don’t like wasting money, but sometimes when gym payments come out of our account automatically it’s easy for us to forget that they are happening. Often the membership may only be $10-20 a week, and we can be a lot more forgiving of small amounts like this.
The problem is that we can go weeks (or months) without stepping foot in the gym, and that adds up to a lot of cash going down the drain.
The strategy: Consider purchasing a 6 month or 12-month membership up front if you can. This feels like a lot of money to be paying, but often works out to be more cost-effective than weekly repayments. This will feel like a more substantial investment that you are making and might encourage you to make the most of your purchase.
The same workout, day after day. Enough to make you lose your mind. You are forcing yourself to go, forcing yourself to get through the session, all the while thinking of all the fun things that you could be doing instead.
The strategy: Mix it up! Try different group classes, do yoga, aerobics, boxing, dance, circuits. Grab a deck of cards and write a different exercise on each one then pick out 10 to 12 of them for a session. Workout with different buddies. Try different times of the day. Have different music playlists. Anything to give your workouts variety.
Choosing the wrong time of day to go
Are you planning on heading to the gym after work when you are already exhausted? Are you setting your alarm for 5 am when you are a chronic snoozer? Choosing a time of the day that doesn’t fit in with your lifestyle or habits is setting you up for giving up.
The strategy: Take a realistic look at your calendar, when you have the time, but more importantly are more likely to actually go. If you think you have no time get creative- could you go in your lunch break, after the kids are asleep (and your spouse can take over), or in the hour before work starts? Find your best times and schedule them in as non-negotiable appointments with yourself.
A gym can be a place to fit in exercise that is convenient, climate controlled, full of like-minded people, safe, and available after hours. I can be a great tool to use as part of your overall weight loss plan.
If you feel like you need extra help in getting fit and healthy the expert trainers at our weight loss retreats specialise in adapting programs for all sized, shapes, injuries, and fitness levels. Contact us to find out more about our proven weight loss program.