I bet I can guess what your New Year’s Resolution is for 2013. Statistically it’s one of two things; either to improve your financial situation (make more money, while spending less) or your waistline.
Lots of us make the resolution to lose weight or get in shape every year. January is the most popular month to join a gym.
We join a health club with the best of intentions. We sign up and are so pumped about getting our fitness back on track that we go three to four times for the first few weeks. Then the third week comes and we get invited out so we skip a day. Then the next week comes and we just want a day off so we skip one or two more workouts. By the third month we’ve only gone to the gym once.
That’s usually the scenario. At first our motivation is sky high and we’re determined to lose weight. Then time goes by, and our resolve wanes a bit, especially after working so hard without the numbers on the scale going down that much. That’s not really a good scenario for our wallet or our waistline.
Gym memberships aren’t cheap. The average cost of a membership to a fitness center in the U.S. is $50 a month or $600 a year. Plus the cost of initiation fees which typically run you another couple hundred bucks.
These two factors are big reasons why people feel that gym memberships are a waste of money. Nobody likes to see those reoccurring monthly charges on our credit card knowing we haven’t taken advantage of our membership lately.
I want you to drop a bunch of pounds, not dollars this year. So I’m going to tell you how to get the biggest bang for your buck at the gym. Follow my tips and you’ll not only lose weight, but feel like you got your money’s worth from your health club too.
Get more bang for your buck by making sure you choose the right location. Location is very important when considering a gym to attend. A surefire way to blow your investment is to join the wrong gym. And it’s not hard to do if you take advantage of special offers from every gym in town. Just because it’s a good deal doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. You are more likely to get your money’s worth from your gym membership if it is near your home or office. This will make fitting workouts into your schedule easier. It’s hard to stay motivated when the thought of driving across town discourages you before you even get off the couch.
When you are using your gym weekly you don’t feel like you’re wasting your money on a gym membership, right? No, of course not. You feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. But how do you ensure you don’t lose motivation and stop going? You set some goals and create a plan.
First, acknowledge why you joined the gym in the first place. Was it to train for a marathon? Tone up? Or lose some extra pounds? Then set smaller, achievable goals along the way towards your bigger goal. If it’s to train for a marathon, then set a goal to add an extra mile every week and a half to your run. If it’s to lose weight, make it a goal to lose five pounds within four weeks and then seven pounds the next month.
Setting goals will help you hone in on what you want from your gym. Create a schedule that starts out slow at the beginning (tell yourself you’ll ONLY go twice a week for the first two weeks), then add more time and exercises to your routine. Developing a plan will ensure you keep going to the gym each week, ensuring you get your money’s worth out of your monthly membership dues.
I also like to set some penalties for not following my routine. Let’s say you planned on meeting some friends for dinner or drinks on Friday night. One penalty might be that you can’t go if you hadn’t gone to the gym at least twice that week. Placing a fear of losing something you do enjoy can be a powerful motivator.
What if you don’t know how to achieve your goal? Will running on a treadmill three times a week be good enough training for that marathon you want to do in three months? Will lifting weights help you lose weight? If so how many reps per exercise should you do? All of these are potential roadblocks if you aren’t sure what to do.
One of the other significant benefits of a gym membership is access to personal trainers. These pros can help you reach your fitness goals in the most efficient manner possible. They can design a workout routine that caters to your body and your fitness level. Generally their services are included in your monthly membership fees or offered at a heavily discounted rate. Taking advantage of such a specially tailored service just makes sense and is another way to make the most of your gym membership.
If you haven’t signed up for a gym membership yet, I can still save you some money. Those of us that jumped on the beginning of the year bandwagon probably didn’t get a great deal on membership fees. Most likely they had to pay full price. If you wait till the end of the month (which is tomorrow), then you might be able to get a better deal. Employees at gyms have sales quotas they have to meet just like every other company. If you come to them during the last week of the month when they have only a few days to make their quota, they will be more likely to cut you a deal. You might be able to get them to waive the initiation fees, give you the first month for free, give you a credit towards a spa service or set you up with a personal trainer for a reduced price.
Another way to save money if you haven’t found a facility yet is to go a la carte. Health clubs with lots of fitness options like pools and classes are great, but if you don’t use them then you’re paying for nothing. Those extra options tend to drive up the price of membership fees. Find a facility that will allow you to opt out of those extras for a reduction in monthly membership dues.
Paying monthly isn’t your only option either. It may seem counter-intuitive but you can pay as you go. Some sports clubs will allow you to swipe your credit card every time you visit. You may feel like this route will encourage you to stay home, that’s not true at all. It turns out not committing to a yearlong contract can actually improve you odds of, well, staying committed. It turns out people who pay per visit are 17 percent more likely to keep up with their fitness compared with members who sign up and pay the monthly membership fees.
Make sure you tell your health insurance company that you have started working out regularly; it can get you some extra benefits! I have a health care plan with Humana. A few months ago they introduced their Vitality Rewards program. Every time I go to the gym I earn points. Once I’ve built up enough points I can redeem them for things like free hotel stays, brand name merchandise, movie tickets, and more. It’s another way to get benefits out of my gym membership!
To get the maximum benefit out of your gym membership you have to use it! Following these guidelines will ensure you beat the system and get more from it, than they get out of you!
Keeping Money in Your Pocket,