5 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Gym Membership

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Are you getting the most from your gym? Many moms pay hundreds of dollars a month to belong to a gym or fitness center and are basically flushing money down the toilet by not taking advantage of everything the gym has to offer. Use our tips and get both maximum fitness and maximum value from your trips to the gym.

Use all the freebies. When you signed up for your gym it likely included a free fitness analysis and perhaps a few free appointments with a personal trainer. It's silly not to use these. Last week when I checked out Lifetime Fitness I singed on for the Personal Profile. I had my cardio, fat, flexibility and strength tested. I know what I need to work on (strength) and where I am succeeding (cardio). This is the handy report I received.

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Try something new. Sometime called "gym rats" we all know the individuals that haunt the gym and seem to be stuck on one or two machines all the time. Bust out of your rut and try a new class. Maybe it's Zumba or a Pilates mat class. Whatever the case, a new class that is offered as part of your gym membership could be perfect at reinvigorating your routine. Set a goal to try one new workout a month--it'll go a long way towards busting boredom.

Hire a trainer. If you've plateau and can't seem to make the scale budge or lower the times on your 5k it might be time to call in an expert. Personal training packages can be affordable and informative. Smart moms buy a multi-packs to save on the fees. Tip: see if you can split the session with a friend. Your trainer can give you workouts that you can replicate on your own at home or at the gym. Pay attention and take notes. This investment (anywhere from $50-$200/hour depending on where you go) can have huge rewards and shake things up enough to move that scale or trim time off your race.

Childcare for a steal. Save the expensive babysitter for date night. Use the childcare facility at your gym for kid-minding. At our local Y, the rate is $5/hour--a steal compared to the $20/hour we pay sitters. No it's not the wonderful stimulating environment I have at home, but it is clean, safe and absolutely fine for the hour I need to swim and shower. LifeTime's rates are even more attractive--$10 for the entire month. Now you can't complain about not having time to workout.

Free education. Gyms love to host informational events. From CPR training to diet tips, check the online bulletin or information board at your gym for upcoming events and then sign up. The savvy mom will sign up for an introductory mommy and me class by checking into these free workshops. Or you'll learn how to make a delicious low-cal smoothie. Information is power.

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