Quite arguably the best tool in the arsenal to lose weight is your local gym. While it’s possible to lose weight and gain strength without one, I think that most people feel the need to have a gym at their disposal. I joined a gym years ago when I lived in Seattle that was acquired by 24 Hour Fitness. It worked out great for me, I have unlimited access to the majority of 24 Hour Fitness gyms for a mere $10 a month now. It’s a monthly fee I’ve often paid years for when I have never even used it. But now that I’m living close to one, and they seem to be more prevalent is the area I live, I don’t regret that the years of non use at all.
Most gyms are broken down into several distinct functional areas:
Weights/Free weights/Machines – The main floors of most gyms have a free weights section comprised of dumbbells, weight benches, bars, and other types of interchangeable weight systems. They typically also have all the machines that can take weight plates and racks for doing squats. Weight training is good for burning calories and for building muscle.
Cardio Equipment – These consist of the machines used for doing cardiovascular training like treadmills, elliptical stair masters, stair climbers, and rowing machines. These machines are great for cardiovascular training and fat burning. Cardio machines typically are a great way to burn a high amount of calories with the right type of workout.
Spin Bikes – Although technically cardio equipment, I like to break spin bikes out into their own category, as most gyms keep them all together. They are typically located near the other cardio equipment, but you’ll often find gyms that have rooms full of nothing but spin bikes. These spin studios are used for spinning classes and bike related workouts. Spinning is a great workout, and is ideal for almost anyone as they require no special skills to use.
Zumba/Pilates/Aerobics/Dance/Yoga Studios – Another thing that most gyms have is some sort of dedicated studio for Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics and Dance type of workouts. These type of workouts are great for people that like to work out with a group of others, and change up the monotony of being stuck on cardio equipment.
Pools/Sauna/Steam – The pool is one of the best low impact, high calorie burning workouts you can find. Swimming laps takes a significant amount of energy, and can be a very challenging workout. A lot of gyms also have some other pool related amenities available like Sauna, Steam Rooms, and hot tubs, which are all great after a tiring workout. They’ll make you sweat, and the heat feels great on sore muscles.
Basketball – Playing one on one, or traditional basket ball is a great way to raise your heart rate and burn calories.
Stretching/Floor Areas – There are typically multiple areas where you can do stretching and floor exercises like push ups, sit ups, and exercise ball work.
A lot of gyms also offer low cost day care that you can take advantage of for those times when you have your little ones with you. Finding the right gym for you is important, as if you don’t like the gym, you ultimately won’t go. Why would you want to spend your hard earned money each month for nothing? I know that memberships at my gym start at around $40 per month for unlimited access to that single location.
Watch for sales, and deals too. Costco is a great place to check, but make sure you read the details, some clubs have different service levels, you don’t want to buy a 2-3 year membership at a discount to find that it didn’t work for the primary location you were considering. Be sure to do your homework and ensure that the membership you purchase works for you. Also keep in mind that there’s generally some wiggle room when it comes to joining a gym. Be sure to remember you can negotiate some, if they won’t come down on monthly fees, or waving initiation/joining fees, ask for a few free personal training sessions. The gym should be able to do something to win your business!
Finding a gym with all of the things listed above is a great step in having the tools you need to create a workout routine that will lead to your weight loss success!