Story sponsored by Genesis Fitness.
With the New Year upon us, there will undoubtedly be thousands of people across the region that have resolved to get back in shape.
However, if you want your fitness journey to be a long term success and not just a short term venture, you really need to get off to the right start.
This means finding a gym that not only suits your lifestyle but also has a supportive culture and staff that can help you achieve your goals.
In fact, Genesis Health & Fitness Club Maitland's General Manager Kye Howarth believes your first week of training is crucial.
With years of industry experience, he knows first hand that the number one determining factor in both success or failure in the gym is whether or not new members are made feel comfortable when they join.
"Gyms can be very intimidating places for new members. Some people don't even get past the front door, they just get to the door and turn around and go back home because they're so intimidated by the idea of going inside," Mr Howarth explained.
"The first thing that should happen when you walk in the door of a gym is you should be greeted with a smile and a 'hello'," he continued.
"You want to find somewhere that you feel comfortable and the staff are big part of that. They need to make you feel like you're welcome."
The next thing that needs to happen, Mr Howarth says, is you need to be properly inducted. That means meeting all of the staff, sitting down with the team and figuring out what your goals are.
At Genesis, all of his new clients are given a session with a personal trainer who helps draw up a program for them.
Then, they show the newbies how to use all of the equipment properly and help them to figure out what intensity levels they should be training at.
"Those first seven days are crucial. Getting them in and getting them a program and teaching them how to use the equipment really eases that fear of getting started," Mr Howarth explained.
"Generally, if people aren't being started the right way - if they just come in and aren't sure what they should be doing - they get bored very quickly and they don't come back again."
That's why, he says, it is important to have appropriate staffing so that clients have someone to talk to if they need some help. This includes trainers, membership consultants and a receptionist.
"Another thing you should look for when you first walk into a gym is the cleanliness. Making sure the place is clean and tidy and being well looked after is revealing about the culture," Mr Howarth explained.
"If the staff are keeping the gym tidy and up to date, it shows that they care about it and that is usually a good indication that they care about their members too."
When choosing a gym you also need to question how well the gym caters for your personal fitness needs and lifestyle.
For example, do they have good facilities? Do they have a variety of equipment allowing you to mix things up if you want to? Do they have group fitness sessions? Do they have personal trainers if you need one?
If you're a shift worker and find it hard to come to the gym during staffed hours, do you have 24 hour access? If you move around a lot, do you have access to more than one gym within the region? Are standards the same across the board?
Mr Howarth said all of these questions were important. That's why at his gym, all of the answers are yes.
He is proud of the fact that they cater for everybody within the fitness community, from newcomers through to seasoned bodybuilders and athletes.
More importantly, he's proud they've managed to foster a friendly and supportive culture and create a positive atmosphere, because that, he says, is what makes the biggest difference.
Story sponsored by Genesis Fitness.