Page last updated at 09:50 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 10:50 UK

Getting the most out of the gym

Siobhan Courtney
BBC News

The BBC's Siobhan Courtney is challenged to find the quickest way to burn 100 calories

If the warmer weather has prompted you to get fit and lose weight, then you may want to take advantage of the summer packages and discount joining rates currently being offered by many gyms.

But with an estimated 200 million pounds wasted every year on unused memberships how can you make sure you get healthy and get your money's worth?

John Brewer, performance director at Lucozade Sport Science Academy based in Slough advises the key is to make the gym part of your life.

"Treat is as the same as picking up the children from school or doing the shopping - make it part of life's routine," he says.

Whether your main aim is to lose weight or to improve your fitness, the key is doing little and often.

Government guidelines recommend half an hour of moderate exercise five times a week.

And fitness trainers advise 25-45 minutes of exercise three or four times a week if you want to lose weight.

John says a healthy heart is vital and cardiovascular exercise, such as running on a treadmill, should make up 75% of your workout, with weights filling the other 25%.


Prices for monthly memberships range from 20-100 so bear cost in mind if you can only attend twice a week.

Enjoy the workout - don't push yourself to the point of exhaustion
Make the gym part of your life rather than using it as a quick fix for a couple of months.
Stay properly hydrated, before, during and after the session
Make sure you eat a healthy, low fat diet to supplement your workout - aim for weight loss of 1-2 lbs a week
Vary the exercise - the more muscles used, the more calories burnt

Location is also important if you have to travel a long way to work out after a hard day at the office, you will be less likely to go and look forward to a workout.

Find out about facilities and opening times - some gyms are built in community leisure centres, so check to see if the pool is open at the time you may want to use it, or if the gym is adult only.

Ask a friend to join with you to motivate each other or attend classes where others may be in a similar situation.

For extra motivation, the majority of gyms now offer sessions with in house personal trainers with prices ranging from 20 - 80 per session.

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