Sunday, April 06, 2008

Get the most out of your gym membership

One of the most important money saving tips to follow is to stay healthy. Exercising regularly can help you avoid many costly health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. While some may decide to go-it-alone and exercise without a gym membership, others may decide to spend a considerable amount of cash to get them on track to their fitness goals. The most obvious way to get the most out of your gym membership is to go often, but here are a few other ways to take advantage of your gym membership.

Take showers at the gym.

After a long, hard workout, you’re most likely in need of a shower. Since you’re already there, why not take advantage of the free shower facilities at the gym? Sure, you might have to look at a few old ladies/men walking around naked, but your water bill thank you for the sacrifice. If you figure that the average 10 minute shower costs $1.12 for water and heating costs, taking a shower every day at the gym would save you $33.60. That might even be enough to pay for the gym membership itself!

Take advantage of group exercise classes.

Usually, you can get a much more effective and comprehensive workout if you attend one of the instructor-led group exercise classes. The classes are usually designed to target all the major muscle groups and pace you to optimize your heart rate. One hour group classes give you much more calorie-burning power than say, one hour on the treadmill. Plus, there is accountability. You’ll feel motivated to keep going because you see a whole class full of other people working through it.

See if your gym card can get you discounts.

Some gyms offer perks programs for their members. 24 Hour Fitness, for example, offers discounts for car rentals, flower delivery, airline reservations, and more. Check with your gym to see if they offer something similar.

Catch your favorite TV program at the gym.

Stop being a couch potato; be a gym potato. Whether you watch Desperate Housewives, Jeopardy, or CNN, you can probably watch it at the gym. If the TVs aren’t tuned to the right channel, don’t be afraid to ask someone to change it for you. Time your gym visits to coincide with your favorite TV program and you’ll never have to turn on your TV again! Ok, maybe not, but if you’re going to watch TV, you might as well do it on someone else’s dime.

Utilize the facilities.

Gyms offer a lot more than just treadmills and weight machines. Most often they also have steam rooms, saunas, and/or hot tubs (not all locations always offer the same facilities so if you have a multi-gym membership, check nearby locations to see what facilities they have to offer) . Steam rooms and saunas can be great for opening up pores, increasing circulation, and just plain relaxing so, instead of paying an arm and a leg at the spa, grab your loofah and exfoliating masks and head down to the gym for a little DIY spa action.

Hang out with a friend.

Instead of going out to dinner or catching a movie, hang out with friends at the gym. Some gyms have basketball courts, racquetball courts, swimming pools, and many other facilities that can be used for group recreation. If your friends don’t have a membership, gyms are often very willing to give out free passes to friends.


Most likely, the people working out at the gym next to you are members of your community. They could be a dry cleaner, a restaurant owner, a landscaper, or something closely related to your field. Don’t be afraid to chat with people. It may be difficult if they have an iPod stuck in their ear, but most people are just as bored at the gym as you are. Offer to alternate sets on the weight machines or meet the people in your group exercise class. Having friends at the gym will not only make your workouts more enjoyable, but it could offer you opportunities to swap services with the people in your community.

Use the trainers.

The trainers will do a lot of things for you for free…in hopes that one day you’ll sign up for training sessions. Take advantage of this. They can offer a range of free services like training sessions to show you how to use the gym equipment, fitness assessment, body fat analysis, nutrition counseling, and goal management. Check with a trainer to see what services they’re willing to provide to you.

Don't forget to take the new poll before you go! I'm curious to see how many people have a gym membership.

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Allison said...

Great tips! I belong to the YMCA, which provides free childcare while I work out or swim. It's a great break for me (and someone to watch my toddler while I shower - an issue at home,) and he loves playing with the other kids.

change is a good thing said...

Those are awesome tips and I think I just may decide to join a gym in the fall. Now that the weather is getting nicer I can go run outside, but once it gets cold again, I tend to become a couch potato. I think maybe I will see about getting a gym membership. Might try several places trial offers while I figure out if there is one that suits me. Thanks for the tips!

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