Other than school exercise curriculum, I haven’t participated in much in the way of physical activity in my life. I like to watch hockey, but I can’t skate, and my general lack of hand-eye coordination has made most other sports I’ve played more for the socialization than the athleticism involved. Given my, let’s say “limitations,” I am much more suited to a gym environment than an arena. There are individual machines and instructor-led classes to keep people like me on the right track.
I’ve had exactly two gym memberships in my life, and the experiences could not be more different. The first, a big city gym, pushed personal training and was full of hard-bodied gym rats, working to loud dance-hall beats. I felt small, obese, and really unhappy to be there. The second, the local YMCA, was colorful and friendly, filled with kids, seniors, and other adults watching the Food Network like myself. I did classes, ran, and even learned a little boxing. It’s easy to see why one lasted 6 months, and one 5 years!
In fact, the only reason I eventually left the Y was the expense while I was on maternity leave. With little motivation in the first few months postpartum, I just couldn’t justify paying for something that didn’t see any use. It was actually a very hard decision! Now settled in to some sense of a routine, and with the small bump in income that comes from returning to work, I find myself wondering if it’s time to head back to the halls of Zumba and treadmills.
For my own benefit, as well as yours, I’m going through the pros and cons of a new gym membership.
PRO A membership is a commitment to working out: By having a place to go to work off some steam, I will be more likely to actually burn some stress and calories than simply promising myself to take an after dinner walk.
CON Commitment comes at a price: Meaning a dollar value that I am promising out of my budget on a monthly basis, likely with a lump sum up front. Many gyms also have a yearlong contract, making the use of it all the more important, rather than wasting the dues, or paying even more to get out!
PRO Making an appointment with myself is healthy for both my body and my mind, making me a better mommy when I’m with my son. I know that I have fun in aqua-fit, feel relaxed after yoga, and sleep well after just about any good cardio session. It's also a positive example to set about the value of exercise!
CON Finding time in a hectic week can feel all but impossible. If the weather is bad, work was particularly difficult, if I feel a cold coming on… I know it’s easy to find the excuses. Missing a few days can easily turn in to a few weeks, and eventually seem hardly worth the effort.
If you’re considering a membership like I am, take a few things in to consideration to maximize your odds of a successful new health routine.
- Look in to the price of everything up front. I’m talking about the monthly fee, the annual fee, the initial fee, the daycare fee, the training fee, the locker fee, and most importantly, the termination fee. Be honest with what you can afford, and know that life happens!
- Ask about facilities, programs, and any potential limitations to your membership. See if you can take a tour, and maybe even do a trial membership for a week. Even if there’s no free trial, ask if you can buy a day pass so you can really get a sense of your comfort level before diving in.
- Consider convenience above (almost) all else. Even if there’s a fancy new facility with an Olympic pool and a Pilates instructor, if it’s all the way across town, you’re so much less likely to use it! Look for one near your home or work so that you see it on your commute! Out of sight, out of mind.
- Rope in a friend! If you know someone that uses the same gym as you, your chances of going skyrocket! So much of my success at the Y can be attributed to my committed husband and my good friend. Combining entertainment and exercise really makes the work more fun!
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