After the Christmas ‘blowout’ comes the guilt and the realisation that the price to pay for too many mince pies and glasses of wine is extra inches on the waistline and extra pounds on the scales.
The answer for many people will be a new year’s resolution to get fit and that often means a subscription to a local gym. But before rushing to sign on the dotted line there are a few things that are worth considering.
Selecting the correct gym is as important for the gym itself as it is for the prospective member. The Gym Manager should be keen to ensure that members are satisfied with the services and equipment on offer and enjoy the experience of their visits – a happy member is more likely to be a long term member!
• Firstly decide whether a gym closer to home or work will suit you best. The more convenient it is for the times you are most likely to want to work out, the harder it will be to make excuses not to go.
• Will you be monitoring your own progress or do you need someone to help and guide you? Some gyms include personal training sessions in their packages, or at least a monthly catch up with a trainer to measure your progress, while others tend to leave you to your own devices. Be clear which you prefer before you decide.
• Ask whether the facility is a member of the Fitness Industry Association (FIA), the industry body for health clubs/leisure centre across the UK. The FIA Code of Practice defines the optimum performance criteria for leisure facilities to ensure members are provided with a safe and proficient environment in which to exercise.
• Make sure the fitness instructors are on the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). The Register is a comprehensive list of qualified instructors throughout the UK, so you can make sure you’re in safe hands. Check your instructor’s qualifications on www.exerciseregister.org and click on ‘Is your instructor fit to teach’.
• Some health clubs and leisure centres have a huge gym floor, but limited studio space, while others have multiple studios and an extensive class timetable but may have a limited range of fitness equipment. Consider carefully whether you need treadmills you won’t have to queue for, or three weekly pilates classes.
• Do you want more from your gym than just a workout? Is joining a gym more about well-being and relaxation for you? If so, perhaps you prefer somewhere you can have a spa or massage once in a while.
Ask around and find out things about the facilities? Is there more on offer than you realised? Are there packages on offer that would be suitable for you but which you haven’t seen advertised?
• If starting an exercise regime after a period of inactivity take it slowly and don’t overdo it. Plan well ahead, setting dates to exercise in your diary and book classes so you won’t drop out. Set yourself realistic goals and move the goal posts gradually.
• Finding a friend to exercise with will not only give you added encouragement and provide more fun, but you’ll both feel guilty about letting the other down at those inevitable times when you are finding it hard to motivate yourselves.
• Try and get a balance between your old social life and your new exercise regime. By setting regular days to exercise so that it becomes a habit not a fad, you will be more likely to enjoy your sessions and keep them up.
Although it will be hard work initially, your exercise regime will provide you with more energy and a release of endorphins, the body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemical, leaving you feeling happy and de-stressed after a work out.
Source: The Fitness Industry Association
If you prefer to take your exercise oudoors or at home, Human Kinetics offers a wind range of health, fitness and exercise books suitable for all ages and abilities.
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