I know far too many people who join expensive gyms and health spas only to never actually go for a workout and to make zero use of the contract. These people will make the same mistake time and again, and until they work out how to motivate themselves they're pretty much a lost cause in terms of getting the body shape they want.
But even if you are going to the gym on a regular basis, you may still not be making the most of your deal and it's possible that you could be getting more from it. How you ask? Read on.
Only recently I joined a health spa (Virgin Media to be precise) because it was so much nearer to my house that I decided it was worth going for something more expensive than my previous £10 membership. For ages I had resisted joining a health spa along these lines for the simple reason that I've always been content to work out with nothing more than a heavy piece of iron and a dingy room. I tended to think that all the other things served only as a distraction and being very unsociable (a 'lone wolf' in the gym as I would say) I didn't particularly want to join any classes or make any new friends.
But having actually joined the gym, and spent some time there my attitude has changed somewhat. Only the other day one of the instructors showed me the 'Tabata' workout, and actually did the whole session with me. Tabata training essentially means training for twenty seconds at a time with a ten second break in between, and it's an incredibly intense kind of workout. We did it four times (each session lasting four minutes) and by the end I could barely lift my arms – and I also had that great sense of gym camaraderie that you get from a workout with a great gym buddy.
This was an example of me doing something I didn't really fancy (I normally like to get in, do my thing, and get out), but it ended really well. And I've had a few other similar experiences. So here's how you can do the same and get more from your membership...
Accept Help and Advice
If your gym has some personal trainers hanging around on the floor, then from time to time they'll probably offer you advice on technique or new workouts. Rather than being a misery like me – accept that help and you might well find that you get a really great workout. Oh and if you want new ideas or advice on how to use something? Then ask – that's what those guys are there for and they tend to actually enjoy passing on their knowledge.
Attend the Classes
Something else fun I tried the other day was a spin class. Again this isn't something I'd normally be particularly interested in – I'm generally more interested in resistance training than CV – but as a one off being told what to do for half an hour really got my heart racing and it was a great way to re-invigorate my training. It's also a great opportunity to meet people and chat.
Try Different Equipment
The best piece of equipment I've ever found in a gym was a climbing rope, but my current one also has suspension straps which are amazing for bodyweight workouts and highly versatile. It's well worth trying out a few different pieces of equipment if you want to target a different body part or add some spice to your regular regime, so don't be afraid to experiment. If you're only using the dumbbells then you may as well get your own and stay at home.
And the Facilities
Something else I've done lately is to start using the steam room and shower every morning. I now begin my day with a workout followed by a stint in the steam room and a really powerful and hot shower and this is a brilliant way to start any day. What's more, because I look forward to getting my go in the sauna so much, that serves as the exact motivation I need to get to the gym when I'm feeling tired or unwell.
Talk to People
And lastly – talk to people! When you have a sense of camaraderie and fun at the gym it's a great way to make going there more fun. So if you see someone who needs a spot – offer to lend a hand. Or if you see someone doing an exercise you don't know – ask them to explain it to you. You'll learn more that way too and your workouts are sure to benefit from it.