BistroMD Health Library

Get excited about reading again with fun and interesting tips from our experts, including The M.D., our dietitians, and our fitness expert. In our health library, you will find all of the information you need to achieve your goals of making a healthy lifestyle change. So, start reading and start losing!

Fitness and Health

Fitness and health go hand in hand, and this section of our health library is devoted to exploring the relationship between these two very important aspects of life.

What You Need to Know Before Signing Up for a Gym

What You Need to Know Before Signing Up for a Gym

Fitness and health clubs have become just like Starbucks; there’s one on almost every corner.

With words like muffin tops, stretch marks, and cellulite plaguing the minds of millions of Americans today, it’s no wonder that the fitness and health club industry has turned into a billion dollar a year powerhouse.

Thousands of people quickly join health and fitness clubs each January in hopes of shedding those unwanted pounds, and getting in shape for the upcoming year. In spite of recent economic times, fitness and health clubs have managed to stay afloat with memberships increasing every year.

“People are always looking to go on a diet, which is what makes fitness and health clubs profitable,” says Sean Wells, a Certified Personal Trainer through The National Strength and Conditioning Association, a Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and the fitness expert for BistroMD. “When people get desperate to lose weight and then join gym, they often neglect taking the time to do their research, which often ends in a disappointing experience.”

In order to help you avoid the disappointing outcomes that can come with fitness and health club memberships, BistroMD’s fitness expert, Sean, is giving you tips on what to look for, what you should know, and why certain things should matter before you sign the dotted line.

"State of the Art” Could Come Straight From Your Wallet

Many fitness and health clubs advertise themselves as having “state-of-the-art” machines and equipment that can give you better results than the average gym down the block.

“This is where many gyms capitalize on this advertising plug,” says Sean. “Many fitness and health clubs charge extra fees, simply because they tell you that their new ‘miracle machines’ can get the job done better than anywhere else. Many times, you don’t need to pay a gym extra money for newer equipment, because many of the results you get from these machines can be achieved on your own.”

In order to avoid this hidden fitness and health club cost, Sean recommends finding a company-sponsored gym, asking your health insurance for a gym/fitness center stipend, or consulting a personal trainer to come into your home.

"One of these options may be better suited for your needs and for your budget," says Sean.

Know Your Goals and Research Your Options

Health and fitness clubs are tailored to specific needs and their establishments are built around certain requirements.

If you have a specific fitness goal in mind, or have a personal preference on what kind of features you want out of your workout, it’s important to have these things established before you start visiting health and fitness clubs.

“Before you eagerly sign up for a health and fitness club membership, it’s important to keep these things in mind,” says Sean. “Remember, your list of features should be based on these criteria: your goals, your style of training, your expectations of service and cleanliness, cost, and location. These things need to be considered before you write a check. If not, you could be thoroughly disappointed in your membership, and in your progress down the road.”

Know the Difference Between Wellness and Fitness

Fitness centers are more basic than wellness centers, and it’s important that you know how to make this distinction.

“Health and fitness clubs can be very different, so it’s important to compare the differences before you spend the money,” says Sean. “Health clubs offer a little more variety than fitness clubs, because of their emphasis on both physical and mental health.”

To fit into this broad spectrum of health, most wellness-based centers place more emphasis on relaxation techniques, educational seminars, yoga classes, and include added benefits like massages and day spas.

“Health and wellness centers focus a lot on mental health and mental relaxation techniques, rather than strictly focusing on physical activity,” says Sean.

If your goals are more weighted toward aerobics, resistance training, and endurance, a gym may be a better option for you.

“Fitness centers are usually more like gyms, and have a better selection of equipment if your goals are to tone and build strength,” says Sean. “Generally, they are cheaper, but they usually don’t offer a wide variety of classes, or added benefits like massages. Choosing between a health club and a fitness club really just depends on what you need and want.”

The process of finding a fitness and health club may not always be easy, but by following these tips, and knowing what to look for, you will be on your way to a glorious and healthy new lifestyle.

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