Tuesday, August 12, 2008

10 Tips on Choosing the Right Gym for You

For many, the gym is our mecca for fitness and home to all workouts. The gym is a great one-stop-shop for your cardio, strength and stretching needs. There are many options available to choose from when deciding on a gym; the mom-n-pop or boutique gym, the large chains, the health club, and others. When choosing a gym there are a myriad of factors to consider. Think about what’s important to you and be sure the gym you choose fits the bill. You may want to print this article to have on hand with you when you’re “interviewing” the gym’s sales consultant.

Here are ten factors to consider:

  1. Location – If a gym's location is inconvenient to get to, you won’t go. Period. Find a location that is close to home or work, or a chain facility that has various locations around your town. Be sure when you sign up that you have access to all the locations in a chain gym.

  2. Cleanliness/Maintenance – This is important. Take a sniff, is the gym smelly? Are machines covered in dust? Sweat? Grease? Is the floor clean? Go into the locker room. Are the towels freshly washed? Is the bathroom clean? Are the showers clean? Are the machines new/up to date? Are rooms well lit?

  3. Cost – What is the monthly cost and does it factor into your budget? What does it include? Are there any special promotions or discounts? How are dues paid? CAN YOU AFFORD IT? Be realistic in this, your gym membership should not put a strain on your financial wellness.

  4. Amenities – Do you require a steam room or sauna? Are the machines plentiful? Are there a sufficient amount of shower stalls? Are products provided in the showers? Are lockers provided? Is there towel service? Laundry? A babysitting service? Is there adequate parking?

  5. Demographics – Who do you see working out? Is it full of big buff meatheads only? Is there a good split of male/female? Are there others in your age range? Do you prefer a women-only facility? Make sure you feel comfortable with who's around you.

  6. Hours – Do you need a 24 hour facility? How early or late does the gym stay open? Are all amenities offered at all times? Be sure the gym will truly be convenient for you, the higher the convenience level, the more likely you will be to stick to your workouts. Is the gym busy during the times you’ll be working out? Be sure to visit the gym during prime times (early a.m. / after work / lunch-hour) to assess how busy it gets. Are there always machines available or is there a wait?

  7. Personal Trainers – Are trainers knowledgeable? Do they answer questions fully even if you’re not buying a session from them? Do they come by and correct your form? Do they intimidate you into a sale? Are they plentiful and visible on the gym floor? Are they approachable? What is the cost? Are packages or discounts available?

  8. Group Fitness Classes – Are they offered? What’s the schedule? What kinds are offered? Are beginners welcome? Be sure the type of classes you’re interested is offered at times you are available to work out. How many people are taken in each class? Do you have to sign up in advance?

  9. Cancellation Policy - Let’s be real. Life happens. You’ll want to know the policies for ending your membership, whether for health reasons, financial, moving, or if the gym just isn’t right for you. Be sure to find out any related cancellation fees and time periods.

  10. “Vibe” – Likely the most important factor to consider when choosing a gym is what I like to call the “vibe” of the place. How do you feel when you enter the gym, when you walk around. Do you feel self conscious? Comfortable? Relaxed? Cautious? Nervous? Excited? Welcome? Pressured? Ignored? These feelings shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Visit a few gyms with these ten factors in mind before you decide which one to give your hard earned money to.

Best of luck! Happy Choosing!

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