Ever wonder just how germy gyms are? Or how they convince you to buy those pricey training packages? Here, inside tips to get the most out of your membership.
By Michelle Crouch Also in Reader’s Digest Magazine May 2015
1. We count on you not to show up. About 50 percent of people who start an exercise program quit within six months. If more members started coming regularly, it would be chaos in here. Here’s a tip to help you stick with it: Start slow. People who quit typically push themselves too hard at first and get discouraged.
2. It’s often cheaper to pay per visit. Economists at the University of California, Berkeley, found that the average gym user who enrolls in a monthly or annual membership pays 70 percent more—about $300 more a year—than those who pay per visit.
3. Many of you use the treadmills totally wrong. Holding on for balance is OK, but some people support almost all their body weight on their arms. That’s unsafe—and it prevents you from burning as many calories. If you can’t manage to loosen your grip, try slowing down.
4. What’s hot right now? Functional fitness, or doing exercises that help you in everyday life, which is important for older adults hoping to prevent injury. That means fewer exercises like leg extensions, a movement you likely will never do outside the gym, and more multi-joint, full-body exercises (like squats) that strengthen you for real-life activities like lifting heavy boxes.
5. Don’t drop your kid off at our daycare and leave the premises. It’s just rude—and it’s against our rules. If you want to get your nails done or go shopping, hire a babysitter.
6. Enjoy the free personal-training session when you join. But if your trainer shows you complex exercises and doesn’t write anything down, it might be per management orders. The goal: to make exercise seem complicated so you buy training sessions.
7. Patience, people! TV shows may give you the idea that you can lose 25 pounds and transform your body in a few weeks, but unless you’re spending eight hours a day in the gym, that’s just not reality. Stick with us for three months, and you will see a noticeable difference in your physique.
8. Beware the smoothie station. Some smoothies pack as many as 500 calories, which may negate the workout you just did. Plus, we sell those products at a big markup. You can save money—and calories—by making them at home.
9. Want us to offer a class at a different time? That’s great. But we won’t create a new class just because one person asks; we need about 12 people to come regularly to make it work. Get a group of coworkers or friends who are interested, and request it together.
10. Members can be unbelievably territorial. Once, I was teaching a spin class when two people came in late and saw other members on their reserved bikes. They started yelling and pulling the people off. It was like a scene out of a movie.
11. See those bottles of disinfectant spray and paper towels? They’re not there for decoration. Please wipe down your sweaty machine after you use it. One poll found that 74 percent of gym-goers notice other members skipping post-workout wipe downs.
12. Don’t automatically pay the initiation fee. Most of the time, it’s completely negotiable.
13. What I look for in a gym: a friendly front-desk staff, which tells me it’s well managed, and a high-quality rug just inside the front door, which means the gym takes cleanliness seriously.
Sources: Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, former gym owner and author of Beat the Gym; Tiffany Richards, former employee at a fitness chain; Charlie Sims, owner of a CrossFit gym in Louisville, Kentucky; Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association; and economist Stefano DellaVigna, who studied gym users for three years