Resolutions

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How to maximize your gym workout (and membership)

Ringing in the new year might be about toasting to good fortune and reminiscing with family and friends. But for many people, New Year's Eve also may be spent thinking about New Year's resolutions, many of which may focus on getting healthy and fit in the year ahead.

According to CreditDonkey, a financial resource that helps people save money and make savvy financial decisions, the health club industry is valued at around $27 billion in the United States. Globally, health clubs produce close to $75 billion in revenue every year. And that industry appears unlikely to slow down anytime soon, as more and more people are resolving to get healthier.

No one signs up for a membership hoping for mediocre results. Therefore, here is how to get the most out of a gym membership and regular workouts.

• Get inside the door. The first step to realizing results is to go to the gym. Statistics indicate that within a month or two of joining a gym, attendance numbers dwindle even though people continue to pay for memberships when they are not going to the gym. Schedule time at the gym as you would any other activity. If you need motivation to go, enlist a friend to join and get you to attend.

• Do something you love. Gyms cater to so many different workout experiences these days that gymgoers need not worry about getting bored with their fitness routines. Start out with an activity you enjoy doing, or experiment with different activities until you find one that you find enjoyable. You may be allowed to sample classes without paying for a different membership plan, or even just observe outside of the studio door to get a sense of what may interest you.

• Work with a trainer. Gyms employ personal trainers who can help novices learn the ropes. New members can rely on personal training sessions to familiarize themselves with a gym's equipment and the proper techniques to employ when using that equipment. Trainers also can play key supportive rolls in members' workouts, helping to keep clients motivated on those days when the enthusiasm is waning.

• Vary your workouts. Expanding your boundaries is a great way to push your body and maximize your workout. According to Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., certified strength and conditioning specialist and associate editor of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, "... by only doing cardio your metabolism will actually go down, making weight loss more difficult. Resistance training, however, builds muscle to increase your metabolic rate." Variety is the spice of life, and it's also essential to effective workouts.

Fitness resolutions are popular, and there are several ways to realize those resolutions and get the most out of your investment in a gym membership.