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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gym Facilities vs. Value

1. The first thing is obvious: get the best possible deal on your gym membership. If you already have a gym membership, bargain for a reduced cost when you renew your membership. Most gyms will allow you to bargain for a better price, and if the gym does not, say that you will quit the gym without a better price, and the price will often magically drop. If you are first joining a gym, bargain for a great price and a price lock in future years.

Keep in mind some good ways to get discounts: join with a friend and ask for a discount because it's a package deal, offer to pay in full for the year, and if you definitely plan to stay at the gym, sign a multiple year contract.

If you can not bargain down the price, bargain for value added services: free guest passes, a free personal training session, or whatever else you're looking for.

2. Step 2
When you first join a gym, ask for a free consultation with a trainer as part of your gym membership package. This trainer should teach you how to use the gym equipment safely and give you some tips about working out which will fit your individual need (weight loss, toning up, and so on).

3. Step 3
The third part of getting the most value out of your gym contract is using the gym frequently. Since you likely will pay a flat fee no matter how much you use the gym, a great way to get value out of going to the gym is actually going. Make it a point to go to the gym several times a week, even if for a short time.

4. Step 4
Take exercise classes at the gym. If the gym classes are included in your gym membership fee, you are paying for them whether you go to the classes or not. Take advantage of this valuable weight loss service.

5. Step 5
Bring friends to the gym. You can either ask for free guest passes, or have the friend come and state that they are interested in joining the gym (if they are, of course). You'll enjoy the workout a lot if a friend joins you, so bring a friend at the gym's expense, if you can.

6. Step 6
Use the gym's facilities. Not only are you paying for the exercise classes and exercise equipment, you're also paying for the showers, bathrooms and amenities such as lotion and shampoo.

In order to get the most out of these amenities, use them. Think of it this way: each shower that you take at the gym costs the gym money on its energy and water bills. Also, this is money that you are not spending on your bills because you're showering at the gym. Use the gym's showers as much as possible, especially if the gym provides shampoo, conditioner and body wash to its members.

The same goes for the gym's bathroom facilities. You may not love using the bathroom in a public place, but using the gym's bathroom saves you money on water and toilet paper. This may sound extreme, but toilet paper expenses and such really do add when you're paying for them.

Of course, use gym provided shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hairspray and deodorant whenever possible. These costs add up when you are paying for them on your own.

7. Step 7
Treat the gym as a place to socialize. Meet new people while you work out. Then, plan to go to the gym together. The more people you befriend at the gym, the more motivated you will be to go to the gym.

Making new friends at the gym helps you to get the most value out of your gym membership because new friendship is a value add to gym membership - you'll lose weight there and make new friends.

8. Step 8
Ask for a bonus for referring new members to join your gym. Many gyms offer incentives, such as a free month's membership, when you refer people. Ask the gym to provide you with membership flyers and free guest passes, and you will be able to refer people without incurring any personal expenses.

Lose Weight While You Work

By Lucy Danziger, SELF Editor-in-Chief

Work gives you a paycheck and, if you're lucky enough to love what you do, a primo sense of personal satisfaction. But it can also come with some unwanted "gains." I'm referring to the pounds that are easy to pack on when you're superglued to your swivel chair and a stone's throw from the vending machine for eight hours a day. Unless you're a pro beach volleyball player or samba dancer, it can feel as if your workplace is conspiring to keep you heavier than you'd like. However, you can still manage your own bottom line, and trim down while you toil. One of my secrets to keeping the pounds off? Rather than reply to emails from staffers each morning, I make several fast sweeps of the office, answering my colleagues' queries face to face. Popping in is more personal than pinging, and it burns calories. Try these tips to drop a few during your 9 to 5. That's the kind of corporate downsizing we can get behind!

Just add water. In addition to being your source for scintillating office gossip and banter about last night's episode of Mad Men, the watercooler can help you lose weight. Keeping H20 at the ready will give you something to put in your mouth besides sweets from your neighbor's candy bowl. And when you're hydrated, science has found your bod does everything more efficiently—including burning calories. Fill a reusable water bottle with ice water before you leave home, and refill it throughout the day. If you like a little flavor, drop in a frozen berry or two; they'll sweeten your H20 as they melt.

Set an exercise meeting. A midday workout keeps your energy up and the pounds down. Protect your exercise time by putting sweat sessions in your calendar just as you would meetings with your most important client. When the day gets busy or you're tempted to surf gossip sites on your lunch hour rather than take to the treadmill, seeing your commitment in print will motivate you to get to the gym. (Make quick workouts more effective.) About an hour before your workout, fuel up with a 200-calorie snack that's high in complex carbs (try whole-wheat crackers with peanut butter). Afterward, recover with a 300- to 400-calorie lunch that contains carbs to reenergize you and protein to help your muscles recover. One idea: a whole-grain bagel with veggies and an ounce of lowfat cheddar, along with a banana (400 calories).

Sculpt right on site. If you can't slip out to exercise, firm up at your desk using just a resistance band and a chair. Dejiggle on the job by doing three sets of these six simple moves on Self.com on nonconsecutive days, up to three times a week.

Bring your own snack. Slip a healthy bite into your tote as you leave the house in morning, and you won't be taunted by that Butterfinger in the vending machine when the afternoon munchies strike. To stay satiated—and sharp—until supper, aim for a bite that contains about 200 calories, some fiber and a smidge of protein, too. A few of my faves: 3 tablespoons lowfat granola mixed with 1 tbsp dried sweetened coconut and 1 tbsp slivered almonds, 6 whole-wheat melba toasts with 2 tbsp hummus, or any of these simple, portable snacks. And stock your desk drawer with energy bars that contain at least 3 grams of fiber and fewer than 200 calories—perfect for when you're in a pinch. Can't resist the siren call of the vending machine? Pick nuts or trail mix, which contain fat and protein to tide you over, rather than pure carbs like pretzels. (Check out the best and worst vending machine foods.)

Team-build. Recruit a few like-minded coworkers to get fit with you. You'll foster friendships at the office (always a good thing) while knocking off pounds. Log the miles each of you walks, runs or bikes each day on a board in your break-room or by creating a shared spreadsheet online; award prizes, such as movie tickets or a gift certificate for a manicure, to whomever covers the most ground. Get set to boost workplace morale and give your body a lift, too!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009