“Have you gone to the gym today?” Those simple words can sometimes inspire guilt or dread rather than inspiration and excitement.

But have you ever thought about why it is that you want to avoid the gym rather than racing to put on your cross-trainers? It may be because you haven’t taken the time to chart out a plan to maximize your gym membership.

Scoping the Tools

Even when you have a gym membership, it’s easy to put off actually going to the gym. If you’re going in without a plan or purpose, it makes it a lot harder to get psyched up.

Think about times that you’ve forced yourself to go for a workout, only to arrive at the gym without knowing where to begin or what to do. When that happens, you aren’t making the most of your membership. The trick is to learn about what specific options are available at your gym. That way, you can select the activities you find most enticing.

Most fitness clubs offer a range of workout machines, exercise classes, and other services, such as personal training. Find out what your gym offers, and make choices about what you’d like to focus on. If you’re not sure what you might like best, take the time to try out new classes and activities.

Planning a Schedule

Once you’re aware of everything that your gym offers, the next step is to create a schedule to help ensure that you’ll get to the gym more often. Knowing what’s available, and what you enjoy, can help make it easier to stick to your plans. 

Most gyms publish a full schedule of class times, which might include activities for the swimming pool, basketball court, yoga and Pilates studio, spinning studio, and other areas of the gym. Ask at the front desk for a copy of the schedule, or check your gym’s website to see if there’s one available online.

Planning your personal gym schedule need not be complicated. Simply start with the classes that you want to attend, and build your schedule around them. If you have a cardio class that meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, perhaps you can designate Monday and Wednesday nights for strength training in the weight room, and weekends for stretching in a morning yoga class.

You might also want to schedule time to meet with a personal trainer if your gym offers one. A personal trainer can help you learn new ways to exercise and teach you proper form.

HealthAhead Hint: Stick to Your Intentions

No matter how many amazing classes and services your gym offers, they won’t do you any good if you don’t take the time to try them. Learning new exercises and trying new classes is a great way to get excited about fitness. Going to the gym becomes less of a struggle when you plan ahead. Make the most of your gym membership by finding out what your gym offers—and then scheduling time to go.