Whatever your reason for joining a gym—congrats on making a healthy decision. Now that you’ve signed on the dotted line, it’s time to lace up your shoes and get to work. However, studies show that Americans waste $1.8 billion every year on unused memberships. More than six percent of those with memberships never actually visit the gym they belong to. And only about one in five uses their membership consistently. In fact, gyms sell memberships with the expectation that only a small percentage of its members will show up regularly.
But, with research also showing that having a gym membership makes it 14 times more likely that you’ll meet the U.S. recommended physical activity guidelines, it’s worth sticking it out.
Fortunately, there are some easy tricks to ensure that you don’t fall victim to an unused charge on your credit card. Check below for six hacks to get the most of your membership, and you’ll see better results and want to work out more often.
Plus, Aaptiv is here to help. It’s got classes across several categories and all levels to take all the guesswork out of your gym membership.
Set clear goals.
Why did you decide to join a gym? Do you want to lose weight, or improve your cardio? Are you hoping to run faster, or increase strength? Having a clear picture of what your goals are will help motivate you to meet those milestones. Once you’ve figured out exactly what you want to accomplish, break things down into small, attainable goals. You don’t have to run a marathon right away or become a champion bodybuilder overnight. Start with a 5K or some moderate weights, and keep working until you get where you want to go.
Make a plan.
Just like you rely on a recipe when making a new dish, you need a formula for achieving your fitness goals. Decide how many days each week you want to work out and what kind of workout you want to perform on each day. The best exercise plans are varied and include a mix of cardio, intervals, and strength training. Create a schedule with designated days for each, being sure to leave some room for rest and recovery days. You’ll then have a recipe of workouts that will help you achieve your goals.
Enlist a trainer.
“Everything’s easier when you know what you’re doing, and who knows everything about the gym and its equipment? The trainers,” says Matthew Martin, a personal trainer and CrossFit coach. “If you don’t know how to use a machine, just ask. If you need a spot on the bench press, or [you] have a question, a good trainer will be happy to help.” He mentions that “gymtimidation” is a real thing, and many people give up on their gym memberships because they feel uncomfortable and unsure of themselves. By asking some questions or signing up for a few training sessions, you’ll feel more confident with your workouts and be more likely to stick with it.
If you have your sights set on a morning workout, or you want to hit the gym right after work, prep your gym bag the night before. Pack your exercise clothes, shoes, headphones, water bottle, and maybe even a snack. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself from scrambling in the morning (and finding an excuse to skip the gym).
Phone a friend.
It’s hard to hold yourself accountable, and packed bag or not, it’s still easy to skip gym day if it’s raining or you stayed up too late thelast night before. But, if a friend is meeting you in the morning or after work, you’re a lot more likely to make it there. Try joining a gym where your friends already work out. Or, if you’re the pioneer in this scenario, invite some friends to join a gym with you. Then, you can employ the classic buddy system and encourage each other to show up for workouts.
Mix things up.
“If you do the same thing every day, you’ll get bored and plateau quickly,” says Martin. Even worse, you might stop going. To keep things fresh, he suggests trying some classes like HIIT, yoga, spin, or Pilates, and mixing those classes in with your regular cardio and weight training sessions. “Doing the elliptical every day is a lot better than doing nothing, but it won’t bring serious results like resistance and interval training,” he adds. “Try to do one new exercise every week, and you’ll soon have a huge arsenal at your disposal.”
If you’re not sure where to start, Aaptiv has hundreds of on-demand fitness classes across multiple disciplines, including running, indoor cycling, strength training, yoga, and more.