Gyms? How to set up a membership, any tricks to get a discount that you know of, what to do when you're there, how not to feel awkward, dealing with creepy guys, etc?
Finding Mr. Right
1. Set your priorities. Before doing any legwork (ahaha) decide what YOU are looking for in your gym. Here are some things to consider:
- How far are you willing to travel?
- What workouts are you looking to do?
- What time do you want to exercise?
- What is your gym budget?
2. Start researching. Once you have your baseline wants and needs decided, start doing some research on your local area gyms. Now that you’ve already decided what you’re looking for, it’ll be easy to cross of gyms that don’t fit your criteria. Try to find at least three venues that appeal to you.
3. Free trial/discounted trial. Nowadays, most gyms offer free trials or discounted trials. This gives you an opportunity to scope out any amenities or disadvantages while getting a cheap workout. If you are nervous about going to a new gym alone, convince a friend to go with you. Don’t sign a contract until you’ve sampled the goods! I’d also advise you to cross any gyms off your list that won’t give you a trial.
4. Ask about fees. During your free trial, consult with a gym employee and find out exactly what you will pay as a new member. Don’t get a ballpark amount, have them calculate the exact expense. If they can’t give you an exact expense, run. Ask:
- Are there any discounts that you’re eligible for? Are there student discounts?
- Are there different bundles that the gym offers, or is it a flat rate?
- Are there extra fees like equipment fees or locker fees?
- Is there a rewards program?
5. Decision time. After sampling different gyms in your locale, decide on the gym that best fits your needs. Is price more important than distance? Is there a gym that is close and cheap?
Creating Your Routine
1. Research. Dig around on the interwebs and check out different workouts. Do you care more about core strength or building muscle? Do you want to increase your mile speed or your endurance? Ask your fit looking friends or coworkers what workouts they enjoy.
2. Trial session. During your free or discounted trial, try out some of the different machines. If you are unsure of how a machine works, ask an employee so that you don’t inadvertently hurt yourself. Observe the environment around you. Is it calm? Welcoming? Productive?
3. Plan it. After researching and trying things out, come up with a fitness plan. In my experience, it’s more effective to plan out every moment of your workout so that you don’t give yourself any time to twiddle your thumbs. Make sure to alternate exercises and to allow yourself fifteen minutes to warm up.
4. Try it out! After registering at a gym, try out your new routine. Allow yourself the space to tweak anything that doesn’t feel right. It’s okay to start slow, be confident that you will eventually build all the strength and skills that you desire. It’s more important to leave feeling proud of yourself and excited to come back than it is to go home feeling miserable and upset.
5. Set a goal. Set a goal for several months down the road, based on what skills you would like to improve. Choose a specific day, and decide to treat yourself on said day if you accomplish said goal. The goal can be as simple as going to the gym twice a week, or as complicated as losing five pounds. Just make sure to properly reward yourself at the end of that time, a small incentive to keep you going!
Doing Your Own Thing
1. Bring your tunes. Make yourself a Barney Stimpson “All Rise” mix to get yourself pumped for your workout. The right music can set the tone for productivity! This will also deter strange men from talking to you, and if they try, just ignore them and pretend you can’t hear them or that you can’t speak English.
2. Buddy up. The buddy system is a great way to help motivate you to keep returning to the gym. Find a willing friend or coworker (key word is willing here, don’t assume that this will be the one time that you friend who always bails comes through because I promise you they won’t) and sign up with them. This can also help you feel more comfortable in your surroundings.
3. Gather your materials. Don’t drop big bucks on gym accessories before you’ve even solidified your routine. Newbies do not always make the most informed purchasing decisions! Use a pair of old sweatpants and a ratty shirt and workout in these until you know what feels good for your body. Maybe your reward at the end of a couple months is upgrading to new materials? Always, always, always bring plenty of water!
4. Safe. A gym is a place for you to feel safe and productive. If somebody is bothering you, talk to a staff member about it ASAP. If the problem persists, talk to a manager about getting a refund and move to a more comfortable space. It’s not worth spending money on something that makes you feel uneasy, there are lots of other gyms out there that will offer you the peace of mind. You can’t expect results without peace of mind.
5. Remember. The gym is a place to get motivated! Everyone there is in the same position that you are in, and nobody is going to waste their money by focusing on you instead of their workout. Stay present, care about yourself, and do others the same courtesy that you want done to you!
PS: Most colleges have gym facilities that are absolutely free for students! Don’t assume that just because its your college that it’s not a “real gym”. Try it out! Hope this helps!