Joining a Gym: Carefully Consider What You're Committing To
Have you ever thought of joining a gym? Maybe you already did. Did you go? If you're like most people you probably got excited after New Year's, ran to the nearest gym on January 2nd, paid lots of money, and went religously for the first 3 or 4 weeks. Then, you didn't see any miraculous changes, your life got busy, so you stopped going. Well, gyms absolutely love these kind of members. They pay for the year, then don't show up.
The problem with gyms is they are boring, time consuming including travel to and from, expensive, and usually crowded. Having said all that there are many people who love gyms. For them that's great. But you have to decide which kind of person you are.
My belief is that if you are not motivated to exercise joining a gym isn't going to do anything for you. I would suggest that you first start by doing things that you don't need a gym for e.g. walking, running, team sports, etc. If you find yourself enjoying these activities then consider the gym. Some people use the gym during the winter months only when they are limited by the weather.
Before joining check out several gyms in your area. Look for gyms that have suitable hours, have reasonable rates, and allow you to cancel your membership (e.g. city gyms, YMCA, universities, etc.). Some of these places may offer monthly memberships, which are excellent if you just want to try it to see if you like it. Decide which services you want before joining as many gyms charge extra for things like aerobic classes, spin classes, etc. Visit the gym you are interested in at the times you will be going to see how busy it is. If it's over crowded you'll spend more time waiting for machines than you will be working out. Do not sign long term contracts unless you are sure you will be going long term (make this decision at home not while they are selling to you at the gym), and you are comfortable that the gym will be there in the long term.
Start slow. You probably will get sore the first few times you go. This is quite normal, don't panic. To reduce this soreness start slow, stretch after your workouts, and enjoy warm showers.
Don't compare yourself to others in the gym. There will always be people fitter than you so don't worry about it. Just go do your own thing. And keep in mind that it takes time to notice any results.
If in doubt ask a trainer. Doing things the wrong way can easily lead to injuries and maybe to low results.
You don't need fancy equipment to obtain results. Some of the best athletes in the world stick to the basics. Arnold Schwarzenegger used dumbbells, barbells, and a bench press!
And most importantly make it fun. Join with some friends and maybe make it a social activity - just don't spend all your time talking instead of exercising.