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How to Get More Out of Your Gym Time

From the Show: Train Your Body
Summary: If your time at the gym is limited, there are some changes you can make to get the most out of the minutes you have.
Air Date: 1/13/15
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Grace DeSimone
DeSimone  CasualGrace DeSimone is the Editor for ACSMs Resource Manual for Group Exercise Instructors (LWW 2011). She has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years and brings a variety of experiences in commercial, corporate and community settings. She serves as the National Director of Group Exercise for Plus One Health Management, and teaches group exercise classes and Anti-Aging workouts at Ethos Fitness Spa for Women in Midland Park NJ.
How to Get More Out of Your Gym Time
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You may already know that going to the gym is important, but are you using your time effectively? Grace DeSimone, editor for the American College of Sports Medicine’s Resource Manual for Group Exercise Instructors and a fitness guru with over 30 years experience, says that for many gym-goers, “the number one thing is that they plan to get to the gym, and that’s it.” They may wander around, chat with friends, and perhaps sip on some free coffee. You look at the time, notice an hour passed, and go home.

Build a Solid Plan for the Gym

This is not an efficient way to utilize the gym, and aside from wasting your valuable time, doesn’t benefit you in any way. DeSimone argues that you should always have a solid plan before hitting the gym. Have an idea of how long you will be working out, and what you will be doing. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends at least three days of cardio, two days of strength training, and one day of flexibility training to maintain a good fitness level.

If you know you want to do cardio, do you know how long, and which exercise? Where will you move to once you finish? If you are using the treadmill for 30 minutes and plan on moving to the elliptical for another 30 minutes, for example, know that ahead of time. Instead of arriving at the elliptical and finding out someone already took it, use the gym mirrors to your advantage and determine ahead of time if someone is occupying your next exercise. If so, continue using the treadmill for the remainder of time without skipping a beat.

For weight training, realize that it’s not the same as muscular endurance. If you can do between 10 and 15 repetitions of a weight, but would have great trouble completing another, that is weight training. Anything over 15 reps can be considered muscular endurance, as is running and swimming. When switching between exercises, give yourself only 30 seconds or so to make it to the next one in order to reduce the time spent lingering.

Take Advantage of Gym Offers

DeSimone also urges you to take advantage of free offers whenever possible. With a paid gym membership or health club, this usually means a free personal training session, an orientation, or free fitness classes. This will help you learn more about what you need to do at the gym. Many orientations also give you baseline measurements so you can keep track of your progress. Be careful with classes though; avoid socializing too much with others, and adopt a “one and done” attitude. Taking more than one class at a time will just result in weakened form and an overworked body.

Lastly, consider changing at home before and after the gym in order to avoid wasting too much time talking in the locker room. Instead of spending an extra 15 minutes changing and walking around, head straight home. Not only will you be able to shower and change in the comfort of your own home, but you won’t be at risk of running into an old friend that will take up a chunk of time due to catching up on gossip.

Alonso is a long-time health and wellness advocate who loves to write about it. His writing spans the scope of blogs, educational magazines, and books, both on and offline.