Joining a Gym? 6 Ways to Make It Worth It

If you're not careful, joining a gym might give your wallet more of a workout than your body. Thirty percent of health club members quit the gym because they aren't using their membership, according to a study by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

There's no doubt that poor health can also be costly, and a gym membership that's actually utilized can make the money spent well worth it. If you are beating yourself up for not going to the gym yet again, you're not alone -- only about half of gym members are considered "core" members; that is, those who frequent the gym 100 or more times in the course of a year, according to IHRSA. This year, step up and become one of those core members. These suggestions will help you get there.

Choose your gym location wisely.

A gym that's close to your home or work -- or, better yet, in between the two -- makes it harder to avoid the "it's too far away" excuse. If you work from home, find a gym that is located within your "bubble," or the small geographic circumference where you circulate.

Select a gym with many options.

Make sure that the gym you join offers a plethora of equipment and activities that you actually like. If swimming is your thing, look for a pool with bountiful open swim hours; if you prefer group fitness, confirm that the classes match your schedule. Also, be sure to note if there are free weights, weight machines, cardio equipment, and even a running track -- basically, anything that will keep your workouts varied. Diversification is a major motivator when it comes to a gym member sticking with their fitness club, IHRSA points out.

Store a packed gym bag in the car.

Keep a ready-to-go gym bag in your car at all times. This way you have no excuse not to stop by the gym during lunch or before or after work, even if just for 30 minutes. This ploy simply helps make exercise happen whenever there are a spare few moments.

Pick a gym with a childcare center.

You can't use the kids as an excuse if you can drop them off at the gym daycare while you work out. To get little ones used to gym childcare, start by leaving them for 15 minutes at a time, gradually working up to an hour or your full workout time.

Make a commitment to a workout buddy or a class.

You'll feel too guilty not to show up if others are waiting on your arrival. Find a friend who attends your gym and set a few days each week to meet and work out, or join a class at your gym where your absence will be noticed.

Set goals and track successes.

Big or small, goals can be a huge motivator. Maintain a log of your activities, or simply keep an eye on the little things: how your pants fit, how you feel while working out (it should be getting easier), and the state of your overall health (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.). As you meet goals and continue to build up your body, the gym will become a habit before you know it.