Coast Guard All Hands is featuring the monthly “Wellness Wednesday” series to help Coast Guard members learn more about healthy living. Blog author Tim Merrell is the Coast Guard’s Health Promotion Program Manager, a prior health services technician, has a bachelor’s degree in health education, and is a certified personal trainer. Please contact Timothy.M.Merrell@uscg.mil for topic recommendations or questions.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently released the second edition of their physical activity guidelines for Americans. These guidelines recommend 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity and 30 minutes of strength training, and confirms the overall importance that exercise has on our lives. These guidelines also align with Coast Guard policy for active duty members.
Although there are many ways to accomplish this goal, this time of year many people look to local gyms as an option to help them get physical activity. Before you invest in a gym membership, consider the following:
1. Convenience. Make sure the gym is convenient to your location. Do you pass the gym on the way home from work? You also may want to work out early in the morning or after work hours, so it is important to visit the gym during these times. What is the atmosphere during those times? If you are interested in group classes, do they have them available during the time slots you’re available?
2. Equipment and amenities. When you preview a prospective gym, take a good look at the condition of the equipment and cleanliness of the facility. Do they offer towels or a sauna? Check out the showers and restrooms for cleanliness. Take note of what equipment is available to help you attain your fitness goals and also how long people are waiting to use the equipment. Nothing wilts enthusiasm for a good workout than having to wait to use a machine.
3. Fees. The costs involved to join a gym can vary greatly. Some facilities offer a great workout for a low monthly fee with no contract while others want you to commit for a year. Take time to make a good comparison of what is available in your area and make sure it’s within your budget. Do they offer a group discount, family, or military discount? Do they have reciprocal membership to other gyms? Make sure they have a military clause if you suddenly get orders out of the area. Ask if childcare is available onsite and how much it is.
4. Qualified instructors and personal trainers. If you would like the advice of a personal trainer to reach your fitness goals, you need to see if they are available and what the costs are to have them give you instruction on a good routine. Having a qualified instructor to evaluate your form may save you months of rehab. It’s also advisable to see how well-equipped the facility is if an emergency arises. Are the staff trained in CPR or do they have people who are certified to use any emergency life saving devices or techniques?
A formal gym is not necessary to achieve the updated physical activity guidelines, but in certain situations, it can help. Before investing in a gym membership, take a look at all the aspects of this commitment and make sure it is the correct fit for you and your family.