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Deciding on a Fitness Center: Tips for Choosing
By: Conray Knox

Joining one of the many fitness centers in your area can have a lot of benefits, but can also be a big expense. Since most centers ask you to sign contracts that can be difficult to cancel, make sure that joining a fitness center is for you and that you are happy with the one you choose, before signing on the dotted line.

Deciding on your Needs

Since you are reading this I guess you would be more interested in weight training than aerobics, swimming and other things. Now those are important but it does not matter to some people whether there is a swimming pool available. You might not be concerned with the number of aerobics classes held each day.

All you want to do is weight train. So choosing a gym that has a wide variety of exercise equipment is idea for you. Now if you are still not sure, you need to look for a location that has a variety of programs and exercise equipment. Maybe once you get started you can decide on your specific needs.

Shop Around

There are many fitness centers out there, too many to review individually. But keep in mind that they are not all alike. If you want to join, make sure to find a club that suits you. Do your homework and comparison shop–it will definitely be to your advantage. Here’s what to look for:

* Make sure it’s convenient to work and/or home. If it’s not, you won’t go.

* Request a free or guest pass to try out the facility.

* Ask about the qualifications of the staff. Unless you already know what you’re doing, you want to work with professionals.

* Visit your choices during the times you would most likely go to exercise and check for crowding conditions.

* Check out the cleanliness of the exercise areas as well as the locker rooms and bathrooms. Make sure exercise equipment appears to be in good condition.

* Ask for operating hours and class schedules to make sure they fit your needs.

* See if child care is available on site.

* Talk to other members and see how they like it.

Joining a fitness center can be a major expense, so use these tips to avoid any financial surprises and get the most for your dollar.

* Before you shop, determine how much you’re willing to spend. Don’t go above this amount. Working out should not break the bank.

* Find out exactly what is included in the monthly fee and what is considered “extra.” Be sure to get a price list of services.

* Skip low-cost “trial memberships.” You will most certainly be pressured later on to continue at a higher fee. Don’t join until you’re ready to make the commitment and only pay what you’re willing to pay.

* See if you are eligible for discounts through your employer or health insurance company.

* Completely understand all refund and cancellation policies before signing a contract.

* Review the contract at home, without the pressure of a salesperson. Ask questions and make sure you understand what you’re signing.

The Benefits of Joining

Fitness clubs allow you access to equipment that you could not afford to purchase or have no room for at home. Many also offer a variety of classes led by trained professionals, therefore increasing the variety of exercise options available. You also have access to fitness professionals who can provide guidance and help you develop a personalized weight training program.

For those who HATE to waste money, joining a fitness center can be a good motivator, feeling compelled to go so they get their money’s worth (this is true only for those who really go out of their way to get value from their money, no matter what they’re spending it on). Those who would just be constantly interrupted trying to work out at home may find getting out of the house to exercise the only way to go.

Alternatives to Fitness Centers

Remember, the large fitness center chains are not the only way to go. Some employers as well as local hospitals or wellness centers have fitness facilities.

Also, make sure this is the best value for you. A few hundred dollars investment in work out equipment you can use at home will still give you excellent fitness results. Or you could join a fitness class through your local YMCA or community center, where membership is not required.

About the Author

Conray Knox is the owner and webmaster of Weight Training Info Discover how to eat and training for maximum weight loss and muscle gain.

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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