How was your NYE? My dad came out to the suburbs and we stayed in, had ourselves a little Whole Foods feast and watched Logan Lucky (hilarious!) and re-runs of The Wall (I LOVE THAT SHOW). We were all fighting to stay up until 11:45 to be able to play HQ, which I just discovered yesterday. Who else plays/is obsessed? If you do, you know the game at midnight crashed so then we waited until 12:30am to finally play, and of course we lost. Oh well. I hung out in my favorite non-maternity cozies (these heavenly $17 PJ bottoms from Target and this sweatshirt, which it turns out, DOES come in maternity sizing... wish I'd known but now I've just stretched out a regular size small. Oh well.) and was just happy to hang on the couch with those three. Last year we went out to dinner and came home to a crying, screaming Winnie, as she'd only been living with us for 13 days and wasn't too keen on her crate/being left alone. Last night she took turns snoozing and snuggling up next to each of us. What a difference a year makes!

Who's got their resolutions ready to roll? I have lots of thoughts about who I'd like to be more of (and less of) in 2018, but haven't yet taken the opportunity to really hammer them out yet, so stay tuned. 

In chatting with a number of you, I know that getting in shape is somewhere on your resolutions list, so I thought this would be an appropriate post to kick off the year with. "Take advantage" may not have been the nicest phrase to use in my post title - I guess "Make the most of" would've sounded a bit friendlier - but honestly? I WANT you to take advantage of your new gym membership. For all the months and years I (and maybe you?) paid gym dues without actually going because I was tired, or my foot hurt, or whatever (AKA the real underlying reason for every single excuse: I was unmotivated and out of shape).

Fitness is IN for 2018 and gyms have gotten competitive, offering TONS of perks to draw prospective members in. However, once you've joined, these "perks" can often be forgotten or seem hidden. How to REALLY get your money's worth, below...

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{watch band}

1. Don't be shy! Before you sign on the dotted line, ask the sales associate or advisor helping you what sort of "swag bag" you receive with your new membership. Often times these people are super harried and get caught up in their numbers, forgetting to give you everything you need before you go on your merry way. Don't be afraid to speak up and ask for what's rightfully yours (even if it is just a t-shirt!)

2. Keep the business card of the associate who sold you your membership. They're a great source of knowledge in terms of current promotions, new classes being added to the group fitness schedule, etc. They can also tell you if any special or social events are coming up. (One of my dear friends was in membership sales while I was a trainer, and she set up awesome events like free Nespresso drinks on the first Saturday AM of every month. Totally worth scheduling your workout around that, if you ask me!)

3. Keep any coupons you get along with your membership package. Often times gyms will offer you a percentage off of something extra (personal training, spa services, etc.) to get your foot in the door. Hang onto them, even if they lapse the expiration date; many times associates will still be happy to offer you the discount in exchange for your business.

4. Use the free personal training session they give you even if you have no intention of purchasing a package. Be upfront with the trainer and tell them that while you're not currently in a position to invest in training, you might be some day and you'd love to learn a bit about the facilities in the meantime. A good trainer will be happy to help you and is a great resource for any questions you may have. I was always grateful to members who were honest with me (AKA they joined for the group fitness and were not in a position to purchase personal training sessions) and was glad to stay in touch if they ever needed anything down the road.

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{palm tree necklacesneakers (on sale!)}

5. Be friendly to the front desk staff. MAN, I can't tell you how many times I've seen greeters be treated like dirt by members who were in a hurry, impatient or in a bad mood. It's so disheartening. As the old Southern saying goes, you'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and the front desk staff are often the very people who can help you out in a crunch time - whether it's getting you off a waiting list and into a class at the last minute or settling a credit card issue. Be kind!

6. Put your guest passes to good use. Many gyms will reward you for referring new members. If the referral policy isn’t spelled out (and let's face it, it usually isn't) don’t be afraid to ask! Equinox, for instance, gives gift cards that can be used towards their spa, personal training packages, and merchandise in their shops (which stock awesome brands like Sundry, Koral and Monrow). Make sure EVERYONE in your life knows what gym you belong to; that way, when they're signing up and the gym employee says, "Who referred you?" you'll be top of mind. Easiest $150 you ever made!

7. Treat the locker room and spa like your own. I am bitter TO THIS DAY that I never knew about the spa lounge at the gym when I was a member (I happened upon it when I was a trainer there). It's a dark room with plush couches, filtered water, tea, apples and magazines AKA my heaven. An appointment at the spa isn't technically required to hang out in there, and it's such a relaxing and lovely space that I wish I'd spent more time in when I had the chance. Don't be afraid to explore the premises and make the most of the sauna, steam rooms, luxe products and any other amenities you happen upon! (Ben fell so in love with the shampoo, conditioner and body wash at the gym that I got him giant bottles for Hanukkah that we keep in our shower at home!)

8. Talk to everyone. Gyms have many different types of employees and levels of management, and it will behoove you to get to know all of the faces you see regularly. Take the extra minute to introduce yourself and say hello. Instructors, trainers, managers, etc. have major respect for the friendly members they see multiple times a week. Speaking from experience here: if you need something down the road or want to negotiate a personal training package, the person in charge is much more likely to help you out or give you a few free sessions if they see you're a dedicated member and you've already established a great rapport!

What are your fitness goals for 2018? Are you joining a gym for the new year?

P.S. I'm honored to be guest posting over on The Stripe this month for Grace's Winter Wellness Challenge! I wrote all about how to create a fitness routine you'll actually want to stick to. Click here for the post!

Photos taken by DAG Photography.