So you’ve decided you’d like to join a gym or change gyms. Since the right workout environment is a key part of reaching your health and fitness goals, here are some tips that will help you find the gym that is the perfect fit for you:
Ask family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, people in workout clothes at the grocery store, and anyone else about their gyms. What do they like, what don’t they like? Why?
Know what you’re looking for ahead of time.
Take the time to figure out what you want so you don’t end up paying for what you don’t want, and so you’ll have access to what you want when you want it. Here are some things to think about:
- Do you like fitness classes, and if so, what kind? What equipment do you like to use—free weights, machines, or both? Is running on the treadmill your thing? Do you like to swim? Are you interested in trying new things and/or mixing up your workouts between equipment and classes? When do you like to exercise?
Location, location, location.
Yes, this is the #1 thing to consider when buying a house, and it’s also a key step in reaching your health and fitness goals.
- Make sure your potential gym is close to home, work, or on your daily commute. Let’s be honest: if your gym is not close to where you are, the likelihood of you making it to the gym is not as good. Make working out as easy as possible!
- Is it in a safe area in case you like to work out late at night or early in the morning?
Before stepping foot into a gym, call and ask the following questions:
- What amenities are included in the monthly fee (towels, child care, locker, trainer assistance, etc.)? What are the fees for additional amenities?
- What is the cancellation/refund policy? Things happen: you move, you’re injured, family responsibilities change, and so forth. It’s good to know what your options are ahead of time.
- If necessary, can you freeze your membership penalty-free for a time?
- Can you use your membership at other locations?
- Do they offer group/family discounts?
- Is the facility bonded? This covers any fees you’ve pre-paid if the gym goes out of business. And remember, you can negotiate your gym fees.
Do a “test drive.”
This is a biggy. Just like it’s smart to test drive a car before buying it, always do a “test drive” at a gym (or even better—at several gyms) before signing on the dotted line, and pay attention to the following:
- If a gym does not offer a guest pass, move on. This is a huge red flag.
- Visit the gym during the hours you normally work out. Do you feel comfortable in this gym? Is it crowded? Check out your fellow exercisers—do they look like they have similar goals to yours? This is one time when a first impression is very valuable.
- Remember your answers to #tip 2? Does this gym have all the equipment, classes, etc., that you want, and plenty of them?
- Is the gym clean? Are there cleaning supplies (sprays, wipes) by each piece of equipment? Do people use the cleaning supplies when they’re finished with the equipment?
- Check out the staff, and interview them if possible. Is the gym well staffed? Are they friendly and helpful? How do they interact with their clientele? What certifications do the trainers have? Do they complete continuing education to keep current on training methods and other exercise-related issues? Since trainers can literally mean the difference between success and injury, it is important to only work with certified trainers.
- Ask gym members what they think about the facility—likes, dislikes?
- Does the gym have an emergency plan in place?
Read the fine print.
Once you’ve found your “dream” gym, read the fine print of your contract before signing. Ask questions and make sure you know exactly what you’re agreeing to.