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5 Unexpected Benefits of a Gym Membership

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So it’s not Jan. 1st. Big deal. That doesn’t mean you have to wait until the next ball drops in Times Square to join a gym. If you’ve been on the fence about joining the gym, what’s holding you back? Fear of failure, forking over your hard-earned money, commitment?

“But I can workout at home.” Yes, yes, you can. But how’s that working for you? If you’re mega-disciplined and have super powers to block out distractions (laundry, dishes, kids, email, TV shows, and that never-ending to-do list) you can get results. But for a lot of people, it’s tough to do in your living room…in front of the TV…within arm’s reach of a bunch of snack food in the kitchen.

Take a closer look at your health and fitness goals. If you’re serious about losing weight, building muscle, getting lean, or just staying in shape, hitting the gym can be a great place to make it happen.

But those are the obvious benefits of heading to the weight room, cranking out a sweat-soaked cardio session on the bike, or showing up to class to kick, punch, move, fight, and tap into your inner badass. Sign on the dotted line, and you’ll also experience some unexpected benefits of a gym membership.

1. Motivation

Get to the gym, even if you don’t feel like working out. It’s that simple. Once you walk through the doors, you’ll feel better. Scan the weight room and the cardio equipment, and you’ll see other fitness-minded people pushing their limits to get fit. Just being in the gym environment can motivate you to get moving, show up to class, and work on achieving your health and fitness goal.

2. Social Network

There’s a good chance someone you know works out at the gym you’ve been thinking of joining. A friend, a co-worker, a parent you know from the school your kid attends. And even if you don’t know anyone there, it doesn’t take long to make a few friends. Join a gym, say “hi” to people, and your social network expands. You might even catch up with some of your gym friends on social media.

In fact, a recent study found that when your social network includes friends who have similar fitness goals as yours, you’re a lot more likely to make it to the gym, workout, and stick to your plan to get fit and stay fit.1

3. Accountability

Something happens when you make friends at the gym. You say “hi” to the staff at the front desk. You catch up with the guys in the weight room in between sets. You have a laugh about kids, work, life, and everything else with the regulars who show up for spin class. You get a fist-bump or high-five from a personal trainer or fitness instructor for cranking your way through another workout.

All those familiar faces at the gym become part of your social network, and it creates accountability. And for a lot of people, that’s the secret sauce to getting results. When you know people are counting on you, expecting you, and even check in on you, the accountability factor can make you a lot more likely to show up for your daily workout2.

4. A New Perspective

Let’s face it. Everybody lives in their own little bubble. You’ve got your own day-to-day routine that stays pretty much the same most of the time. And maybe you’ve got your own preconceived ideas about working out based on what your high school football coach told you, what you read in a recent magazine article, or what you found on some random site after searching the Interwebs for “best workout to build muscle.”

If you’re gonna be totally honest with yourself, you probably don’t know everything there is to know about exercise, fitness, training, and the best workout strategies to help you achieve your goal. Joining a gym can help make your bubble a little bigger, and give you a new perspective on strength training, cardio workouts, and new ways to exercise that you probably haven’t thought of.

5. Access to Fitness Professionals and Instructors

Let’s say you’re at home, got all the distractions out of the way, and you’re going all-out trying to complete a video workout. Go for it. Just recognize that this one-way style of training has its limits. Talking to the TV doesn’t usually generate a response. Get to the gym, and you can have an actual conversation with a personal trainer or fitness instructor.

If you have a question about how to use a piece of equipment, just ask. If you want some advice on training for a marathon, burning fat, or building muscle, ask an instructor or get one-on-one advice with a personal training session. It’s one more unexpected benefit of gym membership.

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  1. 1. Jingwen, Z. et al. (2015). “Efficacy and causal mechanism of an online social media intervention to increase physical activity: Results of a randomized controlled trial.” Preventive Medicine Reports. 2:651-657.
  2. 2. Dolan, S. (2012). “Benefits of group exercise.” American College of Sports Medicine. Jan. 20, 2012.

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