Resolved: To Join a Health Club and Get in Shape

Did you resolve this New Years to join a health club and REALLY work out? Join the club. 

This most common of resolutions also has to be the most frequently broken resolution, as well. Research shows people who buy annual club memberships "overestimate by more than 70 percent how frequently they'll use their club. The average gym user ends up going less than twice a week and five out of 10 new members cancel within the first year."

But that doesn't mean you can't be the exception, particularly if you take the time to find the right health club for your needs. Here are 10 tips to help you make the right choice in 2010.

1. Location, Location, Location: A health club on the south end of town may be cheaper, but if you live and work on the north end you're far less likely to make frequent visits. Class times should figure into your calculations as well. Many after-work cardio classes start between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Calculate drive time to the club and how long it will take you to climb into gym togs. Is the location still realistic or will you be more likely to blow off that workout?

2. Member Ages/Types: The second most important factor is the age and type of membership. If you're a middle-aged woman looking to shed 25 pounds, it can be difficult to exercise at a club filled with college girls in skimpy leotards. Likewise, if you're 18 and seeking a six-pack stomach, you may want to reconsider joining that family oriented club.

3. Traffic Patterns: During your tour, visit the club during the hours you'll likely exercise and figure out how long it will take you to complete a workout. If you're visiting a club in early January, keep in mind traffic will take at least a 25-percent dive in February.

4. Equipment: Do you need to be entertained? Are you more likely to push yourself on the cardio equipment if you have a choice of TV/music stations or will you sputter out early? Does the club provide a variety of bikes, Stairmasters, treadmills, etc.?

5. Classes: Do you tend to get a better workout in a class? Many of us will stick it out through the entire hour in a class, while it's easy to give up half way through a solo workout. Does the club offer a variety of classes and body training? Make sure the schedule posted is actually when and what type of classes are held as clubs can be slow to change these postings.

6. Extras: Is the locker room clean with enough lockers and space for everyone? Do they include blow dryers, curling irons, lotion and maybe even razors? Is there a big enough parking lot? The more extras offered the more you'll get out of your membership and be willing to attend.

7. Anticipated Changes: Is the club considering a major remodel or future construction the sales rep might forget to mention? Most importantly, is the club financially sound? In this economy, it's possible to end up with a one-year membership in a closed club. 

8. Negotiate: The price listed isn't always the final price. Negotiate for a better deal, including free months, extended hours for limited-hours membership or access to premium areas of the club.

9. Read the WHOLE Contract: Some clubs use high-pressure tactics to force you into signing on your first visit. You should never sign on the dotted line until you've paid several visits to the club and used the facilities. Take the contract home and read it carefully. Make sure everything the salesperson promised is in it.

10. Do a Background Search: Before you sign up, contact your local Better Business Bureau to research any complaints.

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2 Comments

If you want to get in shape going to a health club is nice but practicing martial arts will get you in shape faster.
Posted by Tal
I would avoid a gym membership altogether if I were you. In addition to the some of the reasons above, such as cost and motivation to go, you can get a much better workout with just dumbbells from the privacy of your own home. Also the cardiovascular classes are an absolute waste if you are looking to lose fat. You need to focus on strength resistance and interval training if you want to burn fat.
Posted by Joshua S. Holland - Weight Lifting Programs Online