Hello Spring weather, goodbye gym? Maybe you're ditching your favorite indoor cycling class because you're biking in the park, or perhaps you're skipping your regular treadmill session to hit the outdoor café with some friends. Besides warmer weather, now is also the time of year when New Year's resolutions start to fizzle. Whatever the reason, Spring can definitely affect how we use our gym memberships. Do you have a gym membership you don't use?
Hopefully by now you've been able to file your taxes (if you haven't, don't worry, you still have one more day!). If you're lucky enough to be getting a tax refund this year, here's how to use those dollars to fund a healthy routine.
Stock up your home gym: No time to trek to the gym every day? With the right home gym equipment, you'll have no excuses to skip a workout. To help you get started, check out our favorite home gym essentials for you to pick and choose from.
Invest in a wardrobe: You can work out in almost anything, but once you feel the difference with clothes that are made to help keep you cool and comfortable while you exercise, you may not want to. Use your tax refund to invest in a few key pieces that'll up your workout wardrobe ante. Find the right supportive sports bra (read tips for how to pick the right sports bra here), choose a few pairs of flattering, sweat-wicking capris or pants, and stock up on tops that keep you cool. Check our workout clothes posts here for workout gear ideas at any price point.
Get that gym membership: The right gym can motivate you to stick with your routine. Use your tax refund to join a gym with the perfect amount of amenities to keep you excited for your workouts. Need help choosing? Here are some tips for picking the gym that's right for you. Stretch your dollars even further with these tips on how to get deals on fitness classes.
I love my gym for many reasons: it adds structure to my workouts and motivates me, the class selection is amazing, and the people — both trainers and members — can be very inspiring. But I know that many times a gym membership isn't the most cost-effective solution for getting fit, and going isn't for everyone. Are you wasting your money? Here are five signs it may be time to cancel your gym membership.
- You'd rather be outdoors: The thought of being cooped up indoors has you dreading — and then skipping — your workout, but you continue to hold onto that gym membership "just in case." Some people find gym workouts boring, so if you're one of them, start getting creative outdoors. Even if you're not a runner, you can still have an effective workout outside; find an open space where you can do your circuit workout, invest in a bike, or grab your yoga mat and seek out an inspiring place to stretch.
- You only use one piece of equipment: Take a look at your gym workout. Do you just make a beeline for the treadmill and leave? If you're not utilizing your gym's classes or equipment or asking trainers for help, you may be wasting your money. Instead of paying $50 a month just to use a treadmill, save the money to buy a piece of gym equipment for your home or just go for a run or walk outside.
- You waste time once you get there: The hardest part about going to the gym may be getting there, but that shouldn't be the part of your workout that burns the most calories. Whether you find the gym uninspiring or whether you use it as social hour to catch up with friends, if you're not dedicated to your workout once you're there, you're wasting your money along with your time. Take a look at your gym workouts; if you can't find any type of exercise at the gym that inspires you, try something else.
Read on for more reasons you may want to cancel your membership.
If your New Year's resolution is to get fit, chances are you might be shopping around for a gym or fitness center, which is not as easy as it sounds. Here's criteria you should try to check off before signing up for any gym membership.
- Location, location, location: Don't kid yourself into believing that you'll drive halfway across town to go work out. If a gym is closer to where you live (or work), you'll be more inclined to visit. Also, check to see if there's cost-effective parking, nearby public transportation, or if you can't walk to it. Also make sure it's in a safe neighborhood in case you want to pop in later in the evening.
- Ask for second opinions: Get on Yelp, and ask your friends, family members, co-workers, husband's cousin's girlfriend — anyone! — what the best gym is in your neighborhood. Tell them what you're ideally looking for and see if your research, plus your mini-interviews, point to one locale.
When I used to work from home, I'd take a long lunch break to walk to my gym for a daily workout. But since it wasn't exactly close — about a mile away — my gym trips turned into hours-long excursions. So, of course, my exercise regimen was the first thing to go when I got too busy with work.
Now that I've joined a gym that's a few blocks from my office, however, I find it easier to motivate myself to go to the gym. I know that I can get in and out fast, and still have time to make after-work activities. What about you? Does where your gym is located affect how often you go?
National health clubs traditionally offer their best deals in the final days of December, which means it is prime time to sign up or reevaluate your current gym. Gyms give their sweetest sign-up deals now because they want to lure the large number of individuals, like yourselves, who have resolved to get fit in the new year.
FitSugar readers' favorite gym of the year, Life Time Fitness, is waiving its enrollment fee, Gold's Gym is offering a $1 enrollment special, and 24 Hour Fitness is waiving its enrollment fee as well. No matter where you get your sweat on, make sure to Google your gym this week, or call up the membership office and scope out their deals and initiatives. Remember: they want to keep you happy, healthy, and signed-up, so don't be afraid to ask. I've scored special trainer sessions and an adjusted monthly rate just by asking gyms over the years. Of course, don't sign up with a gym simply because it has the best deal. Becoming a member of a health club is a big commitment that involves other factors beyond cost, like location and class offerings. Make sure you check out our tips on choosing a gym before enrolling anywhere. Here's to getting fit in the New Year!
There is only one month left of 2010 and we're starting to get a little nostalgic. We want to know about your favorite things of the year; we started by asking you what your favorite sneaker brand is, and now we're moving onto your favorite gym. Whether you were working up a sweat on the treadmill or dancing up a storm in a Zumba class, tell us which fitness center was your favorite during 2010.
Mama's got a brand-new place to store her gym bag. After three years of loyalty to an acceptable but decidedly unglamorous chain gym, I've upgraded to a fancier club. I'm a saver by nature, but I made a mental list of my old gym's shortcomings (steady towel outages, understocked and overcrowded locker rooms, and mostly stale classes) and took a tour of a club I've had my eye on for a while. After two minutes inside the spa-like foyer and a closer look at the class schedule, I decided it was time to trade up. I utilize my gym enough that it's a worthy investment for me. Thinking about making a change yourself? Here are some things to consider and reasons why you might want to take the plunge too.
First and foremost, I love going to the gym. I go to cycle classes, strength training classes, yoga, and sometimes water aerobics. There are several 24 Hour Fitness gyms I go to since one location doesn't have everything at the right times to work for me.
So why would I need to get rid of my membership? Well, I can't afford it. It's $50 a month. I already got rid of my wine club membership (which was also $50 a month). And $50 month is a good chunk of change, especially when I see my bank account dramatically dwindling due to rent, food, etc. Also, I've been reevaluating my time, and found that as much as I love to exercise, I also need time to do my passion, which is art. I am also paying $50 a month for studio space so I can work there. And since I am gearing up for an art show in the Fall, I need lots of time to work on my paintings. So my membership will go pretty much unused for the next couple months, which has happened before when I was out of country or working on another show. Also, I've had no income from my art . . . yet.
Find out why Soniabonya wants to keep her membership when you read more
It's always exciting to receive a check from Uncle Sam come tax season. Like Savvy, I try to save some of my refund and pay off debt. I also invest the money too, and I'm not just talking stocks and bonds. If you've got a little extra money this year, use it toward your health. It's a worthwhile investment that definitely keeps on giving back to you. Here are a few healthy ways you can start spending that tax refund.
- Enroll in a new fitness class. Maybe there's a new fitness trend you've been dying to try, or a healthy vacation you've been meaning to take. Why not put those tax dollars to use? Make your money stretch even further by using collective-buying sites.
- Get a physical exam. Going to the doctor can be pricey, even with insurance. But at the risk of sounding like a nagging mom, let me say that you shouldn't ignore your health. Go in for an annual physical, eye exam, or make a dentist appointment.
To see more ways to invest in your health, read more