15 Questions To Ask Before Joining A Gym

A smiling personal trainer with a clipboardYou want to be fit/lose weight (just think of all the major illnesses can either be prevented or controlled by regular exercise, such as diabetes and heart disease).

That said, while home gyms can be convenient, they can also become dull (there are only so many fitness DVDs that you can follow). A gym can offer many great alternatives, including state-of-the-art gym equipment and engaging, challenging group fitness classes that make it easier (and sometimes even fun) to exercise. However, joining a gym is something you must make an informed decision about…before you waste your time and money.

Ask these questions before you commit to a gym:

1. What do I need? The most important factor in choosing the right gym is finding one that fits your goals. Why do you want to join? To lose weight? To tone up? To treat an injury or health condition?

Look for a facility that offers the most classes that meet your needs. For example, if you have arthritis, a facility offering water aerobics classes will be preferable over one that does not. Get a tour of the facilities and check out the array of equipment provided.

2. Is the club nearby my home (or work)? The fitness club you’re looking at may be fabulous in every way — but if it’s not conveniently located, you won’t go regularly.

3. Is the facility accredited by the industry’s leading associations? Ask if the club is a member of the International Health, Racquet and Sports Association (IHRSA). It’s the most respected association in the industry and its member clubs must uphold strict standards in member services and programs.

4. What types of fitness classes and programs does the club offer? Is the staff supportive? Look into the variety of classes and programs offered and ask if they’re included in the club’s monthly membership dues. Also, find a club where the staff, including the trainers, are willing to help and answer questions if you have them.

5. Do I have to pay extra for classes? 
Are classes included in your monthly fee, or do you have to pay an additional fee for them once you join? Do you have to pay for them ahead of time (say, six months worth)? Does the gym offer one free class so you can find out if it’s right for you?

6. Is the gym clean?
 While there are no nationally-recognized health codes specific to gyms, you’ll want to check out the facilities for cleanliness.

Take a look at the equipment — dust piled up beneath or around the exercise machines is a sure-fire sign of poor maintenance. Check out the lockers, showers, and changing areas to make sure they look properly attended-to.

Once you do join, protect yourself. Wipe down machines with antibacterial wipes before you use them (should be provided), and wear shower shoes in the locker room and shower.

7. Does your workout schedule coincide with the club’s busiest hours? Visit the club a few times during the hours you intend to use it and see how busy the club is. Is the parking lot packed at your desired gym time? Is there a line to use the treadmills? Make sure the things you need will be available when you need them to be. Joining a gym won’t do you any good if, every time you go, you spend more time waiting, rather than working out.

8. Does the club maintain good customer service policies? Staff members should have answers to your inquiries and be able to handles special requests, such as guest passes, placing a membership on hold during an illness or vacation.

9. Will you want to work out with a trainer? Make sure you know ahead of time if you want to use a gym’s personal training services. Most times, you will have to pay the gym additional money, and some gyms have been known to charge more than the service is really worth.

10. What are the educational backgrounds and certifications of the fitness staff? Trainers and instructors should be certified with one of the following: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and/or American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or ACE. Fitness specialists should also have an educational background in exercise science, kinesiology, cardiac rehabilitation, biomechanics, and adult physical education.

11. Do you feel comfortable in this crowd? Pay attention to the people using the club. Are they similar to you in terms of age, fitness, and attire? You will feel more at ease and are more likely to stick with your fitness plan if there’s a very diverse crowd around you or if most people are like you.

12. Does the club’s overall environment appeal to you? Clubs that provide an atmosphere where you can meet new friends, learn about wellness, and experience new trends in health and fitness will keep you coming back.

13. Does the club offer childcare? For an extra charge, more and more fitness clubs are offering babysitting services or supervised kids areas. No babysitter? No excuses!

14. How does the BBB have to say about the gym? 
It doesn’t hurt to check with your local Better Business Bureau to make sure there have been no complaints about the gym you are considering joining.

15. What does the contract’s small print say? While there are quite a few gyms that offer membership without signing a contract, most still require one.

It’s very important to remember that most gym contracts are nonrefundable. While a few exceptions can allow you to cancel a gym membership contract, such as moving away or an illness, a contract is a contract. Your membership will have to be paid whether you’re using the facility or not.

Be sure to inquire about student, teacher, or senior citizen discounts if you fall into one of those categories. Also ask your employer or health insurance company if you’re eligible for any gym benefits – many are offer corporate gym memberships, or will help you obtain a reduced membership rate.

Be careful about signing a long-term contract. While paying in advance will probably get you a better rate, most experts agree it is preferable to pay month-to-month. Also, when you’re presented with the contract, do not sign it on the spot. Resist high pressure sales techniques and stick to your guns — don’t sign anything until you’ve had a chance to go home or another quiet location and review it with a fine tooth comb. Additionally, it may be good idea to have someone else read over, too, just in case they notice something you don’t.

In addition to the above questions, be sure to ask any others that you have. It’s better to ask first, before you end up with a year-long commitment that you’re not 100% comfortable with.

6 Cold Weather Beauty Tips

A smiling woman wearing an orange hat and scarfWinter should come with another weather advisory—rough beauty conditions ahead. The main culprits are cold air, which holds less moisture than warm air, and low humidity and central heating, which make already dry hair and skin even drier. The result: Your skin becomes rough and flaky while your hair feels dry and loses its shine. Even worse, cold weather hits harder as you get older, when the skin’s production of natural moisturizers starts to dip.

What should you do (aside from locking yourself indoors until spring)?

LIKE BlackDoctor.org on Facebook! Get Your Daily Medicine…For LIFE!

These simple cold weather beauty tricks will help your skin smooth, your hair shiny, and your makeup looking fresh well past the groundhog’s springtime start date:

1. Invest in a humidifier.

If your heating system doesn’t have a built-in humidifier, place a portable unit in your bedroom to add extra moisture into the air and prevent dry skin and eyes in the winter. Set the unit for 30 to 50% humidity during the winter months, advises the Consumer Product Safety Commission. (Humidity levels above 60% may allow moisture to build up and condense on surfaces where bacteria can settle and flourish.) Change water in your humidifier daily and clean out the unit every week to destroy bacteria that can grow in stagnant water. Breathing in dirty mist can cause respiratory problems that are especially dangerous to allergy or asthma sufferers.

They say change is constant and if you were under the impression that your beauty regimen is an exception to the rule, you’re wrong. As the temperatures drop, there are some habits that you may need to alter and others that you may normally alter when you actually shouldn’t. Here’s how to continue looking your best during the coolest months of the year.

2. Take special care in the shower.

Cold weather strips the skin of moisture and it causes people to seek increasing amounts of warmth. Instead of heating up your shower, heat up your bathroom. Hot water promotes dryness so try to keep the water temperature lukewarm to warm and avoid making a habit of long showers and baths.

Drier skin often comes with more ashiness. For many people, the instinctive response is more exfoliation and rightfully so. But, you need to concentrate on the method. People of color should avoid excessive abrasive exfoliation because the friction can cause discoloration. Though the concern is not as great for those with lighter skin, dermatologists recommend that the bulk of exfoliating be done by way of products that contain glycolic and lactic acids.

3. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

You will need to take extra measures to replenish moisture. To do so, you should switch to a heavy body moisturizer if you aren’t currently using one. You also want to make sure that it has a humectant, which is an ingredient that attracts moisture. Examples include urea, hyaluronic acid and glycerol.

Remember that moisturizers are designed to act as barriers. These products are most effective when applied while you are damp because they will trap the water against your skin, so blot and then apply.

Heating sources are another common moisture robber. To counteract the effects of dry heat, you should consider investing in a humidifier. If you can, place it in your work area, the area of your home where you spend most of your time, and by your bed when you sleep.

You may notice that your nails tend to grow better in the warmer months than in the winter. Dryness is not an issue that people readily associate with the nails but it is a problem that commonly occurs. To fight it, apply cuticle oil or hand and nail cream at least twice a day.

4. Drink more water.

When the temperatures drop, how and what people drink often changes. Water consumption tends to plummet, which is a critical mistake because hydration is connected to moisture, and moisture is essential during the colder months. People also tend to drink more hot beverages, a habit that is believed to increase dryness of the lips.

Keep drinking sufficient amounts of water and regularly apply a moisturizing product to your lips, but remember that most lipsticks are not the solution because they usually have a dehydrating effect.

5. Pay attention to what’s on your plate. 

It may seem that your appearance somehow takes a dive in the winter. You may not have thought about it, but people often eat differently once the chill moves in. Salads, cooked veggies and fruits may make fewer and fewer appearances on the grocery shopping list. Be aware of this tendency and avoid it. Your diet is your primary source of nutrients, which supplies the building blocks for healthy hair, skin and nails and the tools to repair and combat damage.

6. Protect yourself from the sun.

Another habit that largely changes for the worse is the application of sunscreen. Though it may not be as bright outside, UV rays are still present and can still do the same amount of damage. This is especially true when it snows because the rays tend to reflect off the surface. To avoid cold weather sun damage, loyal to your sun protection products.