How to Get the Most Out of Your Gym

You're making a wise investment by paying for a gym membership, but are you really getting your money's worth? Not if you've failed to advantage of everything your gym offers.

Free personal training. Many gyms offer orientation, fitness evaluations, and personal training sessions for new members. Some also offer discounted training sessions to long-term members and those who bring new members into the gym. You don't always have to sign up for a full session either to get personal help. If you have a question about how to use a particular piece of equipment, just ask the trainer on duty. Chances are, she'll be happy to help at no charge.

New classes and equipment. It's easy to get stuck in a fitness rut if you don't take advantage of the wide variety of activities the gym has to offer.  Check out the class schedule and try something new. Challenge yourself by joining a more advanced class or group. Try out all the equipment (even the stuff you don't recognize). Spy on other gym members and see what they do with those belts, balls, weights, and pulleys. Then try them out on your own or ask a trainer to give you some pointers. 

Small groups and leagues. Many fitness centers, especially those with a particular focus like a swim or racquetball club, offer small group training and competitive leagues for athletes of all ages and levels. Competing or training with other gym members are great ways to challenge yourself, have fun, and build relationships.

Locker room extras. Free towels and toiletries as well as discounts on massages are common perks in many gyms. Don't forget to leave time for a steam, sauna, or soak after your workout. These little rewards may keep you coming back to the gym for more.

Member appreciation bonuses. Many gyms offer parties, social events, and other perks to keep their members happy and create a sense of community. Some also offer financial perks and bonuses for long-term members and those who refer new members to the gym, like discounts on gym fees or an upgrade to a more deluxe gym membership. 

Extra rooms. If you're all about cardio and never veer far from your favorite treadmill, you're missing out on the important benefits the weight and stretching rooms have to offer. If you're normally a runner who only hits the gym to pump iron, you're missing out on a ton of fun classes. If you usually do your stretching at home, you might not be reaching all the tight muscles you could if you participated in a yoga or Pilates class at the gym. 

To find out more about the perks and extras your gym offers, ask for a new members' brochure or talk to your gym's membership coordinator. Then use your gym to its full potential and build a complete, energizing, motivating, and fun fitness program.