Get the most out of your gym membership with these expert tips.
- You aren’t using heavy weights.It can be intimidating to venture out onto the weight room floor, especially when it’s full of members who seem to know what their doing. But you aren’t doing yourself any favors by staying away.You have two types of muscle fibers: slow and fast. If you don’t use heavier weights, you neglect an entire set of muscle fibers, namely the fast fibers, which are important for moving quickly, lifting weighty objects (your heavy purse, grocery bag, suitcase), and for spine and hip stability.
If you aren’t sure where to start, the RFC’s mobile app has some great videos on how to use each weight machine, along with simple training plans from our personal trainers for your upper body, lower body and core. Another place to look is at our Group Fitness Schedule. You can find Strength classes including Body Pump and CXWORX.
- You don’t use your upper body enough during cardio sessions.Does your typical cardio session always involve the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical? You may not be burning as many calories as you could be.Using your upper-body muscles more can up your total calorie count and will help you develop better endurance. Athletes with the fittest cardiovascular systems are total-body, aerobic athletes such as cross country skiers and swimmers (movements which use both the arms and the legs).
One way to use your entire body is by using machines with an upper body component, like the RFC’s EMT machine, and alternating intervals focusing on your upper and lower body. For example, try pumping the handles more aggressively with your arms for 2 minutes, and then focus on moving with your legs for the next 3 minutes.
- You don’t have a plan.Do you want to lose 10 pounds, run a 5K, or become more flexible? There are special workout plans for each of the above, and they are not interchangeable—there is no “one exercise-fits-all” program. If you do not have a plan to address your greatest fitness needs and desires, you can stall results and actually create changes you do not need or that might not even be appropriate for you.
Your primary objective (weight loss, endurance, strength) should influence the volume (amount you do), intensity (how light or hard/heavy) and the mode (cardio, resistance exercises, stretching programs) of every workout, which is why it’s so important to take the time to meet with a certified trainer at the RFC for an assessment and to help create your goal-specific program.
- You don’t push yourself enough.You may have just spent 2 hours at the gym, but how much of that time were you intensely exercising? Yes, fitness should be fun, but if your set routine involves reading a magazine on a cardio machine followed by the same weight machine circuit, chances are you aren’t seeing the results you want.
In the beginning exercise can feel unruly and even excruciating—which is clearly not fun—but once your body learns how to do various exercise movements and your strength and stamina improve, it’s time to upgrade your program. Time and again research has shown that increasing to more vigorous levels of activity bring about greater health benefits and noticeably improved fitness and appearance.
A certified trainer can help you re-evaluate your workout routine or check the Group Fitness schedule and find a new class to change things up.
- You don’t take advantage of the experts who work there.The RFC has personal trainers. Use them! They are skilled to determine some needs you may have that are not obvious but could prevent you from making progress or possibly causing you injury.
This is especially important if your goal is weight loss. If you’re trying to lose weight, what you eat is incredibly important, especially if you’re regularly exercising.A trained expert can speed up your progress and results as well as prevent you from burning out, under-eating, or over-doing. RFC members with group fitness have two personal training sessions built into their memberships.
- You leave without stretching.Skipping a post-workout stretch is the most common mistake exercisers make. After, not before, your workout is the perfect time to stretch, as your muscles are warm and flowing with oxygen-rich blood.
All adults should be stretching at least three times a week. Stretch the front side of your body first, since tighter muscles on the front of the body can reduce flexibility in the back of your body. For example, if your hip flexors are tight, your hamstrings will have limited flexibility.
Short on time? Even doing just two stretches before you head out the door can make a big difference.