Do I want to join a gym? What could I expect if I went?

The short answer is “not particularly”, but I want to get a bit fitter this year. I’m not that fussed about losing weight, but I want to get a bit stronger and more generally ‘fit’.

There’s a gym down the road from me, about a mile away. I feel I should join it, and go twice a week, and do “stuff”. But I’m not really sure what ‘stuff’ involves - I’ve not been in a gym since the school gym 20 years ago, and I think things have changed since then.

The gym membership does include an hour long “induction” where they sort things out a bit, but I don’t like new social situations so I thought I’d ask for people’s experiences here, and ask what sort of machines or routine I should look for.

There’s also classes included in with the membership, but my understanding is that they are 90% taken by women, so that’s not likely to happen.

Twice a week, for the average person, is not enough. You lose the fitness you gained going so long between workouts.
Three times a week minimum.

Besides strength training, you still need aerobic fitness and flexibility for all around fitness.

Where are you now in terms of fitness and are you following a fitness routine now?

Also, bodyweight exercises work well and you can do it at home.

We have a few men in our fitness classes, so no need to worry on that account. Spin class is pretty co-ed.

Look, exercise is finding out what YOU enjoy. That way you’ll keep doing it. You seem somewhat meh on joining a gym, so chances are, you won’t stick with it.

You can look for free exercise videos on line or On Demand from your cable company and see what appeals to you.

Good luck!

I agree with ivylass. The best exercise for you is one that you’ll do and stick with. A lot of people who get gym memberships end up not going. This site says only 33% of members end up actually going to the gym, and I’ve seen similar or worse statistics elsewhere. I just listened to a Planet Money podcast on how gyms want people to sign up who they know won’t come and use the equipment, and how they try to persuade those sorts of people into signing up.

You do seem “meh” on the gym, so I’d at least visit first before you sign up. Not just take a tour around, but see if there is some visitor’s day pass you could use and try out things. You can see if you like the cardio machines and the weight lifting room and maybe try a class and see if you like it all, or if it’s weird and you’d hate coming there. Women are more common in classes, but it shouldn’t be a big deal for a man to be in one.

There are lots of exercises you can do at home for cheap. Or maybe intermural teams or other activities you can go out and do. Good luck in however you decide to go about getting more fit!

Based on the PlanetFitness commercials, you can expect a gym full of fat idiots who are terrified of people who actually receive a benefit from going to the gym.
But basically, the questions you are asking a bunch of people on an anonymous message board? You go down to the gym you are interested in and ask the person sitting behind the desk. They should be able to arrange a tour of the facility, hook you up with a trainer, classes, so on and so forth.

I’m not sure why people feel intimidated by going to the gym. I’ve been going to gyms for the past 25 years and it’s not like some meatheat is going to beat you up for not benching enough. 90% of the time, people generally just do their own thing.

In my experience, the gyms make most of their money by insisting that people who join sign a fairly lengthy contract - like minimum one year. Then, most or many people seem to go for a very short time - like a few weeks, and then don’t want to go anymore.

But the gym usually collects for the entire period of the contract. It’s like Sam Lowry said above. Most people get tired and don’t want to go anymore.

That has happened to me and I know of at least two other people to whom it happened. Can you imagine? You pay a thousand dollars for one year but only go for two weeks and then the gym threatens to sue you if you don’t pay for the full year. Bandits!
One gym I visited insisted that if I wanted to join, I first had to sign a promissory note for the full amount of one year.

A promissory note? That seemed extremely ridiculous to me. It was like a big red flag.

I would suggest that if you are considering joining a gym and they insist you sign a lengthy contract, you tell them you want a one month trial period first and if they won’t let you do that, just walk away. They may surprise you and call you back and agree to that.

Do you know how dance studios work? They are even more of a money grab than gyms.

Before joining any gym, I suggest you talk to your friends and relatives - or better yet - why not Google to see how many people are happy or unhappy with the treatment they received (or suffered) at a gym.

Good luck to you. It’s worth taking a little time and not rushing to sign any lengthy contracts.

I Goggled “gym dissatisfaction” and found quite a few hits. One was called “Five Things Unhappy Gym Members Want to Tell You”.

But I bet if you Google for other search terms, you can find a lot more good info.

There’s a lot of options other than “go to the gym” if you’re just looking at basic fitness. This article talks about some high-tech options, for example. I started doing FitStar after reading several good reviews about it, and I’m happy so far, if you define “happiness” as “holy shit that workout kicked my ass.” :smiley:

There is another side to this story. That is when a gym collects a whole bunch of one-year memberships in advance and then just declares bankruptcy or folds up their tent and skips town with all the money.

Just ask yourself this: “If a gym is honest and reputable why in the world wouldn’t they agree to let you have a one-month trial period?” If they won’t do that, it would raise a red flag for me.

Good luck to you.

A long time ago when I decided to join a gym had no idea what type of stuff I needed to do there. Which machines, free weights, how much weight, how many reps, how many sets, which days do I do what, how long do I rest between excercises, etc, etc.
I picked up the book Body For Life which you can probably find at used book stores. While I didn’t follow the program to a ‘T’ or even close to a ‘T’ it gave me a great place to design 50 minute workouts around.
Even though the book sleeve has a lot of questionable before-and-after pictures I found it to be an easy read and used it as more of a reference book.

This is *exactly *how they make their money. Oh, and continuing to bill you after you have cancelled.

My gym lets you join month to month. It’s cheaper in the long run if you join for the year, so that’s what I do.

I’ve been going there for ten years, so they’re pretty established. But month to month is a good flag…just don’t let them sign you up for auto-pay. Shadier gyms will “accidentally” bill you after you cancel.

I agree with this! For some people, the equipment to be found at a gym is perfect for what they want to do. Nice pro cardio and weigh machines and a huge array of free weights, and maybe a track. Some people would prefer to build up an arsenal of weights and machines at home.

Some people want classes, some people want to work out alone. Some want a pool, some want a track. Some want bikes inside, others want bikes outside.

TRY your gym and if you don’t want to go to it, don’t. But at least try! And try everything. You might find you hate the treadmill but love elliptical, or love the bike or even love just walking the track.

But heed everyone’s advice - don’t sign up for a year :slight_smile:

Teuton, find a gym that offers a BodyPump class. It’s a group class which uses weights and is a great way to build some overall fitness and strength. Since you decide how much weight to use, it’s great for beginners. Once you develop good core strength you can easily do more weight training.

Don’t worry about the number of women in the class. It’s just that generally women tend to like classes more than men. My BodyPump class is probably 60/40 women to men.

For the most part, no one cares who else is in the class. They ignore you and you ignore them. Pretty much everyone is there to do the class and then leave.

Health club gym is nothing like school gym. The classes at my gym have every body size, shape, and age. Everyone from 20 to 90, skinny to fat, clumsy to elegant, and everything else all working out together. Do not let your experiences with the hell that is school gym influence your perception of classes at a health gym.

I do Body Pump three days a week. I love it! My gym also offers other Les Mills classes, like Body Flow and Body Combat.

Many gyms will allow you to purchase a small block of time (like a guest membership) or a class package before signing a contract. At the very least you can ask for a one-day pass just to try it out. The gym I am at is contract-based, but will allow someone who is interested in joining a one-week pass to try before signing up.

If you are interested in taking classes, don’t worry about there being mostly women, that’s the way it is at my gym as well. The men who come seem to have just as much fun as we do.

Honestly? Wait a week or two. It’s the new year, and every gym in America is swarming with newly resolved healthy folks. If you don’t like social situations you may end up deciding that you hate your local gym.

I can tell you a bunch of us got a week-long pass to another gym in town when they were redoing the floors in the fitness room in our gym. Most reputable gyms will give you a trial period.

Walk to the gym and back - do that 3 days a week.

When you can do that easily - start jogging there and back.

When you can do that easily - do it twice, etc.

If you’re not into strength traiing or need specialized equipment - you’ll get more out of that than anything else - and you’ll save the monthly fees.

Hubby was asked one time if he ever went to a gym. He has been to one gym once in his life. He says he would much rather play a game of rugby, go outside and split firewood, or wrestle with an engine trying to fix it than go to some gym a few days a week and do the same old crap while seeing the same old stuff and doing exactly the same things.
I had never thought about it before he mentioned it but I agree. I would rather play soccer, go run up and down a hill, bike along an unused railway, go snowshoeing, swim in the lake, etc. than putz around in some gym.
I think even if we lived in a city I would prefer to drive out of it and then “work out”.

There’s a lot of good advice here guys, thanks a lot for your thoughts.

The gym does do a pay-as-you-go ticket, or a month-by-month but, unsurprisingly, it’s much more expensive to do it that way. I’m quite tempted by simsters running idea, really.