If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get in shape and that plan includes getting a gym membership for the first time, take a step back and think hard about this. Make sure you’re making the right decision.
First, make sure you don’t lock yourself into a contract. Most gyms these days will sign you up on a month-by-month basis, but there are still plenty of gyms that will lock you into a 1-3 year contract. Do NOT sign up for this. Bally’s screwed me into a 3 year contract, so I know all too well how it feels. I actually went about 5 days per week for 1.5 years, but then I didn’t feel like going there anymore. The equipment started to feel old and poorly maintained (at least at the Bally’s I was going to) and it was too crowded for my liking, so I bought all my own equipment and started working out from home. I paid for the last half of the contract and I didn’t even go there anymore. What a waste!
Another reason you don’t want to get locked into a contract is because many people who sign up as a result of a New Year’s resolution, go to the gym for a couple of weeks and then decide it’s not for them – before the end of the month is even up. Then they’re stuck paying for it the rest of the year.
Gyms are also really crowded in January, which is frustrating for everyone, but gives the wrong impression to newcomers, possibly putting them off. For all of these reasons, I suggest working out at home for a few weeks to see if it’s something you really think you’re going to stick with. If so, sign up for a monthly membership in February.
I also want to give you one very important tip to help you really stick with your goals for getting in shape.
In my opinion, the most important thing someone new to fitness needs to know, is what their routine is going to be. I’ve seen this so many times it isn’t even funny. People will sign up for a gym membership, mess around on a few machines for a 30 minutes and then go home. You’ll see them go from bench press to dips to treadmill to shoulder press to leg abductions, etc. That’s not a routine with clear goals in mind.
If you need a routine, search for one on Bodybuilding.com or go pick up the latest issue of Men’s Fitness or Muscle and Fitness (my two favorites). There are also plenty of smartphone apps, such as iFitness on the iPhone. If you’re starting at home and don’t have any equipment, do some searches for a bodyweight routine online, like this one. You can also get some resistance bands for pretty cheap which can replace weights for tons of exercises.
Take the routine with you to the gym, along with a notepad, and track your progress. Track how much weight you lifted and how many reps for each exercise. That way you can go back the next week and know if you need to raise or lower your weights. A specific routine is key to maintaining your fitness goals.