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Don't waste your money on that membership.

Updated on January 17, 2015

It all begins around Thanksgiving when families get together. Grandma comes out of the kitchen with a fresh Pumpkin Pie and without any question or authorization puts a big slice in front of you. Is in that precise moment when you start thinking, it’s okay, it’s the holiday season, and I’ll hit the gym five times per week starting January first. What happens next is that you hold on to that thought through all December, then you buy an annual gym subscription, in January you start going to the going to the gym almost five days per week, in February you are going one or two days per week and finally by March you have become a “no-show customer.” According to analyst Sean Naughton those are great customers for the gym industry, “You don’t have any equipment depreciation,” he says, “You don’t have anybody who has to service them — other than charging their credit or debit card every month.”

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Gyms and Health Clubs make billions between January and February when everybody is excited about losing weight. However, the IHRSA Trend Report shows that only 15% of gym members in America go to the gym more than 6 times per year. From an economic point of view, the smart thing to do would be to do the math and be realistic about the goals before buying a membership says Stefano DellaVigna in his study titled Paying Not to Go to the Gym. “People overestimate their future attendance,” he says, “They are not getting their money’s worth.”

This phenomenon may be due to the fact that as humans we all want things instantly. Every year we get technological advances that allow us to do things faster. Fast food, faster cellphones, faster tablets, faster computers, video downloads in seconds, etc. We always want things to happen faster. The problem is that our body doesn’t work in that way, if we really want to lose weight, shape our body and improve our metabolism, it will take time. The important thing is to enjoy the process and keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to have a healthier life. Here are four things that you need to consider in order to improve your gym experience.

Start off slowly.

A common mistake for people is to compare themselves to other gym members and adjust their workouts based on that comparison. Identify your personal limit and push it little by little.

Try this:

  • Go twice per week.
  • Don't run on the treadmill, jog.
  • LIft light weights only.

Sounds easy, right? If you do this with discipline during your first month, you are most likely to overcome the three months barrier where everybody quits.

For your second month you can add another day per week, add time and speed to the treadmill and add more weight to your lifting. A high phased start might be shocking to your body and mind. This shock will make you want to quit and ultimately you will do it. Working out is a habit and should be introduced to your life like that, little by little, until you feel confident and comfortable about it.

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Know your body and set realistic goals.

We all have an ideal weight based on our body type and bone structure. This ideal weight varies even within people with the same height. Some people have thicker bones and we all have different complexions determined by our genetics. So how do you know what is your ideal weight? In order to have an accurate answer to this question you can visit a dietician or nutritionist, or learn the formula and calculate it yourself. “Your body weight doesn’t have to be a guessing game,” says Marc Perry who is an expert trainer. He shares the formula on his website. By knowing your ideal weight you can establish monthly goals and track your progress accurately.

Don’t waste your time.

Either with the help of a trainer or by yourself, but you need to make a game plan. “Heading into the gym without a firm plan in mind is a surefire way to waste time.” Says Jeremy Duvall on his article Stop Wasting Time in the Gym for Men’s Fitness. The most common excuse that keeps people away from the gym is that they don’t have time for it. However, if you have a well-crafted plan, you can optimize your time in the gym and in about an hour burn the calories you need to burn per day. If the machine that you need to use is busy, go ahead and do other exercise within your daily plan, come back later, and don’t just wait for the machine standing next to it playing Candy Crush on your cell phone. If the machine that you need to use is busy, don’t just wait for it standing there and playing Candy Crush on your cell phone. Move on, do other exercise within your daily plan and come back later. If you stop moving, your body will cool off making you feel tired and chances are that feeling tired, you won’t finish your workout.

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One final thing.

Remember that not everything happens inside the gym. Along with workouts you should eat healthy, sleep well, and always keep track of your health. A healthy diet is not just about avoiding fries and pizza; it’s about eating enough nutrients to keep your body working properly. A lack of sleep could harm you more than you think, PhD Michael Breus says that, “individuals who lose sleep may continue to feel hungry despite adequate food intake.” According to Breus, sleep loss also interferes with the body’s metabolism, which leads you to gain weight and to have high sugar levels in your blood. Finally, you should check with your doctor if your overweight is not caused by a medical condition. According to Dr. George Krucik, medical conditions such as hypothyroidism could make you gain weight unintentionally and can only be treated with medications.

Set realistic goals, make a plan, be aware of your health and enjoy your time at the gym. By doing so, you won’t be wasting your money on that membership.

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