health

7 reasons to join the gym (and 4 reasons to not to.)

So, should you join the gym?

So we’re officially well into the new year. And by now, you’re probably regretting the three million wines you had over Christmas, and seriously considering a gym membership so you can achieve some of those fitness goals you set yourself for 2014.

But please don’t do what I once did and let yourself be coerced into an expensive membership by one of those overly enthusiastic people who hang out on the street, throwing pamphlets at people. Think about it carefully. To help you do just that, I’ve put together some of the pros and cons of joining a gym…

Seven reasons to join.

1. There’s a huge range of equipment

This is the obvious one. Walk into a gym and you’ll be overwhelmed by the possibilities – unless it’s a really terrible gym, they’ll have a whole lot of different cardio machines, as well as weight machines and free weights. Some gyms might even have a pool. And everything’s included in the cost of your membership, so you can mix it up as much as you want and work different muscles every day – important to make sure you get the most out of your training.

Sure, home gyms are convenient, but you’re also probably limited to just a few pieces of equipment and one treadmill or spin bike. And if you’re the kind of person that gets bored easily (like meeeee) you might enjoy changing up your exercise session every night, rather than just doing the same old thing every day.

2. You’ll have a built-in support network

Most gyms will offer some kind of introductory PT session that will get you started on the machines and work out a program for you to follow. From there, if you’re ever struggling with something, there’s always staff around to help you out – which doesn’t exactly happen when you’re just out running in the park.

3. It’s good to get away

Escaping to the gym is a brilliant way of getting some all-important me-time. You can hop on a treadmill, pop your headphones in, and it’s very unlikely that anyone will bother you (unless you’ve been using it for, like, four hours, which officially moves into treadmill-hogging mode). I know a mum who takes herself to the gym every night after her kids are in bed, and watches TV while working out on the elliptical or step machine. It’s her way of maintaining some sanity while also looking after her health.

Group fitness anyone? Look how fun it is!

4. Group fitness classes are awesome

If the treadmill isn’t quite your thing? There’s probably an entire timetable full of fitness classes you can take part in. You’ll be guided through everything by an instructor, and you’ll absolutely have to work out for an entire hour, because nobody wants to be that person who leaves halfway through a class.

5. It’s motivating

It’s easy to skip out on a run in the park. It’s not so easy to skip out on the gym when you think about just how much money you’re wasting by not attending. Also, plenty of gyms are now organising challenges and incentives for their members to get fit – Fernwood, for example, has year-round challenges with epic prizes. Car, anyone?

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6. You can make like-minded friends

People at the gym are generally pretty happy and friendly (all those exercise endorphins help) so it’s a good place to make new buddies – especially if you regularly do classes with them. Incidentally, I also know quite a few people who have picked up at the gym. Just sayin’.

7. It’s convenient 

There are more and more gyms opening up all over the place, and for competition’s sake, plenty are also staying open quite late – perfect for those who work long or strange hours.

And the reasons why you might not want to join…

1. It costs money

Occasionally quite a lot of money, depending on the gym. And often, it’s money that people can’t

particularly afford to fork out.

If you’re keen to join a gym but you’re on a budget, make sure you shop around and look for the best possible deal. Uni gyms are often really reasonably priced, and I know an RSL near my place which is super cheap. Plenty of gyms do beginning-of-year and winter specials – just read the contract very carefully to be aware of any hidden costs or dodgy deals. I may or may not have once joined a gym that continued to charge me money even after my year-long contract ended. Just sayin…

2. There’s no fresh air

Which is not so nice if you really love the feeling of running through the park with the wind in your hair.

3. It’s not so great if you’re really shy…

… and don’t like working out in front of people. Especially if you’re doing a new class and can’t quite get the hang of it, and you’re worried about people judging you. (Hint – they’re not, they’re too busy worrying about themselves. But it might still stress you out.)

4. It might not be so convenient, compared to working out at home

Because if you’re working out at the gym, you have to get dressed, gather all your stuff together, drive to the gym, park, get up to the gym, put all your stuff in a locker, work out, go home, get changed, have a shower, etc… and if the gym is awhile away from your house, the entire process can take well over an hour. And if you can only go after 11pm – the place may very well be closed. Uh-oh.

Do you go to the gym? Do you love it, or are you not such a fan?

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