Millions of Americans have gym memberships, but with busy schedules it's easy to skip the gym- or not take full advantage of everything you are paying for.
According to CNBC, the average gym membership costs $40-$50 per month. If you are paying $600 per year for a gym, do everything you can to make the most out of your membership and get your money's worth.
1. Get on a Regular Schedule
The biggest way to waste money on a gym membership is to forget about it and skip your workouts. Create a workout plan that you can realistically stick to and make sure it works with your schedule.
Whether you want to go a few days a week before work, in the evening on the way home, or drop in for that extra class on the weekend, get it on the calendar and stick to your schedule.
Interested in a workout plan that's customized to fit your needs? Check out this workout database from bodybuilding.com!
2. Give the Classes a Try
Some people prefer to be lone wolves at the gym and create their own routines. Going to classes, however, is a great way to learn new workout techniques, find that extra motivation, and take advantage of the social aspect of working out. Classes are also a fun way to try something new like Zumba, U-Jam, yoga, or Pilates.
Feeling intimidated? Reader's Digest suggests snagging a spot toward the back of the room- and remembering that "even the most advanced students were once beginners."
3. Take Advantage of the Pool
Gyms typically have lots of different amenities, and many members only take advantage of a small number. One of those amenities that hardcore gym rats regularly overlook is the pool.
Swimming is a great workout and is low impact on joints. It is a major calorie burner, according to Men's Fitness, and is a refreshing way to start or end a long day.
4. Learn How to Properly Use Equipment
Gyms have professional staffs that can help you learn to use new equipment or properly use more common machines.
Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery, says that personal trainers and nutritionists "can speed up your progress and results" in addition to determining factors that could result in injury or "prevent you from making progress."
According to Shape, gym memberships regularly include a free session with a personal trainer, and that session can pay dividends for years to come. Use that session and a variety of different workout routines to build a personal wellness program specific to you.
And be sure to check out these 10 popular health myths!
5. Tell Your Insurance Company
Some health insurance policies offer incentives or discounts to people who take steps to stay healthy. This can come in the form of gym membership discounts, monthly premium discounts, giveaways, or other useful and fun motivators.
Keeping yourself healthy keeps your healthcare costs down, so employers and insurance providers are increasingly incentivizing the insured to stay active and keep fit. Not only can this save you money and get you fun goodies, it keeps you healthy at the same time.
Choosing an exercise program and sticking to it is hard work, but the payoff is huge. You can live longer, live better, and save money on expensive doctor visits and healthcare costs. Do the right thing for yourself and your wallet: take full advantage of that gym membership!