When ones level of activity is high, fitness and the possibility for good health exist. When, on the other hand, ones activity level is low, fitness is absent and deteriorating health results.

Increasing ones activity level through participation in regular physical activity is a good way to help improve fitness and health.

Joining the right gym

Once you have determined your fitness or health related goal and have decided on the gym you wish to attend, your next step is to become a member of the selected gym. The registration process should not be a difficult one and will seldom exceed 30 minutes.

Things that are important and should be considered during the registration process are the following:

• Be wary of any contract you are asked to sign. Read it carefully to ensure that you will be paying only what you are to pay and that you will not be tricked into a long term commitment that is unfavorable to you.

• The amount you pay to attend a gym should be affordable to you. The inability to pay the recurring dues required to maintain an active status at a particular gym is a common reason why many people abandon (or decrease) their fitness or health improvement efforts. The good news is, a number of programs exist to help you attend a vast number of gyms absolutely free. Silver Sneakers is one such program. It is free to you if your health plan offers it. Contact your health insurance provider to determine if it carries Silver Sneakers. You may also wish to contact us at the Cultural Center’s Fitness Center to determine your eligibility for Silver Sneakers or for additional information on the program.

Getting the most from your chosen gym

Once the registration process is over, you will most likely be given a tour of the gym. Depending on the agreement made, you may be entitled to a fitness assessment and will have a personalized training program created for you. A personal trainer or other fitness professional will assist you in using the equipment that are important to your program. Depending on the policy of the club, ongoing assistance may (or may not) be available to you.

As a new gym member, and unless the gym is a relatively small one with emphasis on social interaction, you may feel a bit lost and/or somewhat neglected. This feeling should diminish as you become more familiar with the gym and your program. Remember, reaching your fitness goal should be your driving or motivating force.

Listed below are seven suggestions for new members:

• Write out your fitness program and use the written format until you become familiar with it.

• Plan to workout at the gym at least three days each week. You can add more days if you care to.

• Your gym session should range from 30 minutes to an hour or longer. The length of time should be based on the content of your workout.

• If you have little time or are free at different points throughout the day, you might want to break up your single session into smaller sessions that you can carry out during those periods when you are free. You could, as an example, have your first session at some point in the morning and another during the afternoon or evening hours.

• Each of your workout session should include: a warming up period, activities for strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness, and a cooldown period. Keep in mind that other factors (balance, coordination, etc.) may also be included.

• It should be remembered that in order to reach your fitness goal, it will be necessary to push yourself beyond your existing limits. This is best done in a progressive manner with safety always in mind.

• Your journey to improved fitness and good health is not always an easy one, but you should try never to give up. Keep in mind that the stress of your workout is a beneficial one. That which originates from poor health and illness is seldom ever helpful.

For all your fitness needs, visit the Cultural Center of Charlotte County’s Fitness Center at 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte, or call 941-625-4175, ext. 263.

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