It’s almost the New Year…the time of year that many decide to join a gym. Joining a gym can be a big commitment of both time and money. Before you make this commitment, read the following tips to help find the best gym for YOU!
Location, Location, Location
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you select a gym is the location. Gyms that are out of the way and inconvenient for you will make it much less likely that you’ll find the time and motivation to go. Consider when you plan to go to the gym during the day; if you’ll go before or after work, look for gyms that might be conveniently located relative to your workplace. If, on the other hand, you prefer to go to the gym from home, you’ll be better off if you find a facility close by where you live.
Financial Commitment (What’s This Going to Set Me Back?)
What’s your budget? Fitness is not cheap. Cost is usually tied to what the gym has to offer. What amenities do you want vs. what you can afford? Consider initial fees and monthly dues and find out what’s included in that price. Does it include a personal assessment of your fitness? Access to unlimited group fitness classes? Don’t forget to ask about discounts or special packages. Find out about early termination fees. On that note, see if the gym you are checking out has a free trial period.
Don’t pay for the newest, nicest health club if you’re never going to need the showers, the lockers, child care, or the pool. If all you want is to run on a treadmill, there may be a less expensive option in your area.
Family Friendly or Adults Only
Going solo or with the whole family? If your kids are young, find a gym with quality childcare options. Check out what they have to offer, cost, and hours. Maybe your kids are old enough to use the gym, find a family friendly gym. Some gyms may even have events for kids and other family friendly perks.
What Type of Exercises and Amenities Are Offered?
In addition to access to machines and free weights, memberships at full-service clubs can include group fitness classes, lockers and showers, and possibly racquetball and tennis courts, and a pool. There could also be services you pay extra for, like personal training, massage, a restaurant, and child care facilities. Ask to see the schedule of fitness classes offered at the gym. Make sure that the classes you want to take are offered at the times you can attend, and find out if you need to show up early to reserve a spot.
What Are the Hours?
Is the gym open when you’ll use it most? While some gyms are open 24 hours a day, others are closed on weekends. Whether you workout early in the morning or late at night, make sure the hours fit your schedule, or you’ll be paying for something you can’t access.
Visit the gym during the hours you will be working out. This will give you a feel for how busy the club will be and what’s offered. If you want classes, find out when the ones you want are offered. If you want to swim, find out when the open swim times are and be sure they fit your schedule.
Find out if your friends belong to a gym. Get their recommendations. Do they hate their gym? Love it? Do they have a schedule similar to yours so you two can partner up in your workouts?
Check Out Other Local Gyms
Check out the other gyms. There are plenty out there. Watch out for long contracts or other stringent policies that will keep you locked into membership after you want to leave.
When considering a particular gym, set up a tour and bring a list of questions you want answered. Try to set up this tour during the time you usually exercise. More often than not, the staff will give you a free day pass so you can try out the equipment, classes, and other amenities firsthand.
This may or may not be obvious on your first trip to the gym, so keep your eyes peeled. Make sure that towels are available to wipe off the equipment after each use. Also, look to see if staff members enforce this standard of hygiene. Peek into the locker rooms and showers, especially if you’ll be using these often. Look at the toilets, sinks, and showers themselves to see that they’re properly maintained.
Check Out the Equipment
Take a good look around. Are there enough of the “popular” machines to go around, or do members have to wait in line to use them? Find out if there is a sign-up sheet or a time limit on cardio equipment. If you run on a treadmill for an hour, then a 30-minute time limit won’t really suit you.
Make sure that there are a wide variety of machines, but don’t be intimidated by new ones. Notice whether or not instructions and pictures are posted on the machines, or if staff is available to help you. Be cautious of out-of-order machines; this might be indicative of a poorly maintained gym.