Several weeks ago, I wrote about how I was considering a gym membership. Well, I decided to take the plunge and have been going for two weeks now. The first week was on a trial membership, and last week was my first full week on the paid membership that I purchased.
Here are a few things that went into the decision to purchase and how it's gone so far:
I checked around and after immediately eliminating the high priced options (up to $50 per month, yikes) I was left with two different pricing plans.
- Higher monthly cost, no activation fee – The gym I was looking at has a current price of $90 for four months, or $22.50 per month. There are no setup or activation fees. After four months, I can sign up again at that price. Or better. If the price at that time is better, I can sign up at a better rate. I can also add on months to my current membership if they decide to offer a better deal at any point in between (and the lady tipped me off that they have some pretty sweet Black Friday deals).
- Lower monthly cost, but activation fees – The other gym I looked at can be joined for $15 per month, which seems pretty good, except that you have to pay $79 up front to activate your membership. If you average this cost out over a year, you end up paying roughly $21.50 per month, which is pretty much the same price. But, the activation fee is unappealing to me for two reasons. First, that's a lot to pay up front. Second, it just annoys me. The reason they have activation fees is because if you decide to stop your membership at any point, you'll be on the hook to pay the activation fee if you ever decide to re-join. I'm guessing that gyms use this as a way to keep people from quitting. It just annoys me.
So, I chose the first option. I think that the $22.50 per month that I'm paying is pretty good and I have a feeling that I can get better pricing down the line. And, as a follow-up to another post I did where I was hoping to get last month's price of $75, I asked politely and was politely told that they could not give me that price. So, for the difference of less than $4 per month, I was not too worried. It was worth a shot!
I set some goals as to what I wanted to accomplish:
- Reverse some weight gain – Over the course of a couple of years, I made some small changes that led me to lose 18 pounds. This was awesome, but after hitting that low weight, I started adding a little bit here and there, until I'd cut into my progress by half. I simply want to reverse the decline and closer to the weight I was at before I added the nine pounds back in.
- Improve my cholesterol – Since they started measuring, I've always had borderline high cholesterol. The last time I went my LDL (bad cholesterol) was higher than it should be and my HDL (good cholesterol) was technically acceptable, but at the low end of the acceptable range. I'd like to improve both of these numbers and exercise is believed to help this.
- Spillover into better health – If I'm exercising I tend to make better choices. If I'm reaching for a snack and it's on a day that I've exercised, I'll tend to think twice about it, often either deciding against it or at least taking a smaller portion. So, I figure that even on days when I burn off 300-400 calories, I might avoid 200 or so more just in making better decisions. This helps with both goals above.
- Feel better – I end up feeling better throughout the day, and also I'd like to just feel in better shape.
- Rest better – Even though I am getting the same or maybe even slightly less sleep (see the routine section below), I find that I rest much better. If I wake up, I can normally fall right back asleep, and I just feel more rested, as I'm guessing that my body is doing a better job at resting after being worn out.
My prior routine had me getting up around 5:40, going downstairs to feed the cat, go back up to shave, shower, and get ready. I'd generally leave the house around 6:20 and end up at work about 6:30. Since my normal start time is around 7:00 (I'm not on a fixed schedule), I was actually giving my employer quite a bit of extra time.
So, the new schedule has me getting up earlier, about 5:05 (this is actually closer to the time I was getting up until a couple of months ago when I had to wake up to give the other cat–now deceased–some medicine. So this wasn't much of an adjustment). I shave, go downstairs, feed the cat, stretch, and leave around 5:25. The gym opens at 5:30 and that's around when I get there. I exercise for about 45 minutes, collect my stuff and stretch, and I'm back at home around 6:25. I shower and get dressed, then hop back to work, and I'm still there no later than 6:50.
So far, it's worked.
Right now, I'm doing three days a week on the treadmill (around 25-30 minutes at 5.0-5.2 MPH with warm up and cool down on either side), and two days a week on a weight circuit, where I do one set on 12 different machines one after another with little rest in between, then go back and do another set, with a few minutes walking on the treadmill before, in between sets, and after. The idea is basically to keep your body working on a low level for the entire time.
I'm still working on getting my stretching done right. Last Friday was the first day that I didn't feel tightness in my calves after working out, so I think I got the stretching right for that. I do have to keep tabs on my knees, as I've had joint pain in the past when I've used the treadmill, plus I have a family history of knee problems. If that returns and is prohibitive, I might have to switch to the elliptical, but I like the treadmill the best, and I'm hoping to be able to stick with that as my primary cardio machine for now.
So far, I've lost 2 pounds from before I started. I know that weight flucuates, so I'm really going to look at this by month, but I still track it weekly just to get some inputs on progress. Going the right direction at the beginning is great.
My only regret is not starting up sooner when I had initially started kicking the idea around. Actually what prompted me was a Groupon deal at another gym, and once I started thinking about it, I realized that I really wanted to get back in an exercise routine.
The plan is to post regular updates, with the thought process being that I'll hold myself accountable. My biggest risk is falling out of the routine, and I know that can happen after missing even one day, so the challenge will be after I inevitably get sick or something and miss time, to get right back into it.
How is your exercise routine going?