TheSite.org gives you an induction to the gym so you'll be a fitness freak in no time.
Will the gym fix it?
The beauty of a gym workout is that you can tailor your training according to your needs. If you want to focus on developing a washboard stomach that's fine: stick to the weights room. Alternatively, you might have a broader aim, such as getting into shape with a regular cardiovascular routine, in which case head for the running machine. All gyms offer a range of different equipment, along with trained staff to help you work out how to make the most of it all. You may even find swimming pools and saunas, as well as organised classes so you can perspire with like-minded people.
Finding the right gym for you:
So, you've heard from a mate that this is the only gym in town worth joining. That's great, but what if everyone shares the same opinion? A state of the art rowing machine isn't much use if ten people are queuing to have a go. So ask how many members the gym has on its books, and before you sign up, make a couple of visits at the times you are most likely to be there to gauge just how busy it gets.
When you have made a shortlist, ask if they give free induction sessions. Most gyms do - and it gives you a good insight to the equipment and facilities on offer. Some gyms also offer members a chance to invite a guest - ask friends at other gyms if you can go along with them for a session to get a feel of the place.
Are they registered with the Fitness Industry Association (FIA)?
The FIA is the UK's recognised body when it comes to maintaining standards in the health and fitness sector. If your gym is registered, it means they must obey a code of practice regarding safety, insurance and delivery of service. If in doubt, ask to see their plaque or certificate.
Is help at hand?
Will there be a qualified instructor on hand to show you how to work the equipment and draw up the best routine for you? There should be. An induction period is the only way to make sure you're getting the most out of the facilities, and not placing yourself in danger of death by dumbells.
What is your budget?
So you want to mix with celebs in Pilates classes, and have access to a private sauna once you've finished working out with your personal trainer? Hey, that's fine. This kind of thing is available, if you can afford it. According to the Fitness Industry Association, the number of gyms in the UK has rocketed by 25% since 1996, and this has broadened the range and scope of the market. The key, of course, is cost.
Gym prices can start at around twenty pounds a month, so chances are you'll find something to suit your needs. From upmarket gyms with pools and personal trainers, to everyday workout facilities with a drinks machine that's permanently out of order, the fitness world is your oyster, so work out what you can afford and seriously consider how much you'll use your membership. Also note that you'll probably have to pay a joining fee before you start shelling out on a weekly/monthly basis, which can make it pricey to kick off.
On a tight budget? Visit your local authority sports centre and see what kind of work out facilities they have on offer. There will undoubtedly be fewer perks, but they may offer discounts to students and the unemployed, as well as off-peak membership, which is always cheaper because you are only allowed to visit at certain times.
How can I quit?
It's estimated that almost half of all gym recruits return to the sofa within a year, so it's worth checking your get-out clause before you sign up. Some require three months written notice before you can quit, which could create financial problems if you want out because you're skint.
What do I need?
- Comfortable work-out clothes. From your basic T-shirt, shorts and trainers, to expensive vests, headbands, and, naturally, all manner of figure-hugging Lycra wear.
- An income. Most gyms are membership only, often at around £30 a month. When you cost in the joining fee, this isn't the kind of path to fitness that should be taken if you're not committed (and cash-ready).
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