If you've wasted hundreds of dollars on a gym membership because you don't go, then perhaps you're just not paying enough.
Wait, hear me out. A lot of people hear "pay more money" and automatically start duct taping their wallets shut. We live in this Dollarama culture where people have a hard time disassociating cost from value on a whole lot of things. But here we're talking about your body, and this is not the same as comparing a Dollarama flyswatter to one bought for $3 more at Wal-Mart. Making a lifestyle change this big requires hard commitment, and at least a month.
If you want to get in better shape, but you hate to go for one or more of the following reasons, then you need to pay more:
Budget about a grand to pay for a trainer two times a week for two months. And then go start casing gyms.
Here's exactly what you need to do.
If you're the person who is reading this article, towel service and hot yoga rooms are not going to make or break any deals for you. Childcare might. Driving a half hour away might. Equipment? Nah. A good trainer will find a way to kick your ass with whatever happens to be handy, even if that's only a couple rocks on the ground and a piece of string.
So here's a small list of things that are more important to check out:
1) Cleanliness / maintenance. A colleague of mine used to say if the airline can't be bothered to wipe the rings off the tray tables, how well do they maintain the plane? Same diff.
2) Existence of older trainers. You do NOT want a fresh-faced idealistic kinesthiology graduate with zero practical experience, especially if you have any sort of physical impairment. Trust me.
3) Willingness to make a good partnership. You're going to be shelling out good coin for this. Shop around. Haggle. Find your trainer mate and the perks you can't live without. You deserve a good deal. You have the right (in Ontario, anyway) to break a contract within 10 days. So make sure you don't let anyone make you sign on the dotted line before you know you're going to be happy.
ALSO: Be realistic. You might be able to shave a bit off the price (because the gym takes a good chunk) but know you're very likely going pay somewhere about $50 per session at a gym, unless you know someone outside of one. Yeah, ouch. BUT worth it. I promise.
If a gym only has a bunch of inexperience at hand, say bye, Felicia. Any trainer with at least 5 years of experience will likely have what you need.
After the experience, it's all about personality. Have a training session or two with a couple different ones to see if you click. Remember, if you live in Ontario, you got 10 days to decide whether your contract works out for you. You can also buy individual sessions at some gyms. Definitely try before you buy. You don't have to get saddled with whatever trainer they point out first.
Here's a short list of things to do and rookie mistakes to NOT do while you work your way through your first two months.
Don't: Schedule your sessions back to back for the first month or overdo it by demanding they make anything harder. You ARE going to hurt (so good) at first, and your body needs recovery time.
Do: Stick to 2 sessions a week, 3 days between for your first two weeks. Do invest in epsom salts. Do take hot baths. Ask for leniency if you're unsure if you're ready, because they are not psychic and will not know you and your body early on. Maybe even start lightly at 30 minute sessions instead of an hour for the first couple sessions if you're especially out of shape. And if you're not feeling well, say something right away (puking all over the gym is not badass).
Don't: Tell your trainer what to do (especially if they mention strength training). They are the expert. Also try to avoid picking unrealistic goals that will rubberband on you when they ask you what you want. In fact, if you want my advice, don't even pick anything related to numbers on a scale right now, because weight training adds muscle weight.
Do: However, know what measure will make you feel like a success, because a trainer will aim to reach that goal to motivate you, whether it's body fat percentage or the number of pullups you decide you want to be able to do.
Don't: Change your diet right away, especially the first two weeks. Deprivation is a demoralizer you don't need to add until you get over the "EVERYTHING HURTS, I WANT TO DIE NOW" hump. Don't think you're being clever for your first weigh in by not eating all day. Don't pig out right before your routine, either.
Do: Eat normally through the day, lightly an hour before your workout, and pack a snack for after, especially if you have a tendency to get hangry or shaky. And don't!! leave the gym if you are feeling vomity or shaky.
Do: Suck. It. Up. And stay the course! You probably will not enjoy feeling sore, and the first two weeks may be a challenge. But pain will fade, and by the end of your first couple of months, you will actually like feeling like a hardbody badass (perhaps under a load of towels still, but hey, progress).
Be honest. When's the last time you've looked forward to going to the gym? When's the last time you actually felt like you were a kind of a super woman? Personal trainers aren't cheap, but if you pick a good one, your trainer is a long-term relationship, and a friend! (And sometimes eye candy, too. Hey, we might be married but we ain't dead.)
That, my friends, is priceless.