If you’ve never worked out before or if you’re returning after an absence, picking the right gym is imperative. Not liking where you workout practically sets you up for failure. If you don’t feel comfortable at your gym, if it’s too far from your house or if the hours aren’t compatible with your schedule, it is truly a waste of money. Since 2008, I’ve been a member at three different gyms and each one has had its own positives and negatives. With each gym, I’ve learned a little bit more and more about what is important to me and what makes my life easier, which equals more consistent work outs.
Things I consider when looking for a gym.
This is something that you should be able to spot immediately. Look for gym employees cleaning equipment and patrons cleaning when they are done on a machine. A gym that has customers that clean up after themselves, is a gym where people respect each other and the equipment.
Every gym calls their area for children something different – child-watch, child-play, child room. Some are unsupervised and operate on an “At your own risk” basis. Other gyms have supervised areas with a television and a few toys. Still others offer a place for your child to play and get physical exercise while you do the same. Make sure you ask about age requirement/restrictions, cost (Yes, it can be extra $$), and operating hours. Most child areas are not open the entire time that the gym is open.
Do you need to workout after you get off work from the mall at 9:30 PM? If so, my gym isn’t for you. It closes at 10:00 PM through the week and 8:00 PM on weekends. Consider this before you sign a contract, if your gym requires one. If the gym hours won’t work with your schedule, you won’t work out and you’ll always feel frustrated. Believe me, I’ve been there. 24/7 gyms are more and more common. So if you want unlimited hours, look into a local extended hours gym.
Distance To Your House/Work
Picking a gym that is too far from your house greatly decreases the odds that you’ll actually work out. What constitutes “too far” varies for each person. Personally, I don’t mind driving a little farther to get everything I want from a gym. Weigh the pros and cons and if you’re a road rager that can’t stand driving, try to keep the gym within a 15 minute commute.
Different gyms attract different types of people. Some gyms are for women only, some cater to seniors, some are for professional body builders, and some are a single scenes. When visiting the gym, look around and see if you’re the only person that looks like you. If so, you might be in the wrong place.
My least favorite part of gyms. Consider carefully the stipulations of ANY gym contract you sign. I know right now that 2-year deal sounds like a great bargain. It’ll be worth it because you’re motivated and you’re going to be in the gym everyday! Right? Maybe, but maybe not. If you’re unsure as to whether you’ll be able to stick with a regular exercise regimen, try a month-to-month membership or look for a gym that doesn’t require a contract. And don’t ever sign without trying it first.
Ask how old the equipment is and how often it’s serviced. If you walk into a gym and two out of the five treadmills have ‘OUT OF ORDER’ written on them, this isn’t a good sign.
What classes does the gym offer? Do they offer all levels? If you’re new to exercise, you won’t be jumping into an advanced Body Pump class. Do they have classes for beginners? Do they offer variety? Are their instructors certified fitness instructors?
Are there certified personal trainers there on a regular basis? Will there be someone available to show you how to use the equipment? I was a member at a 24/7 gym one time and I never ONCE saw a trainer. How would a new to exercise person learn about any of the machines?
Peak Operating Hours
Always visit the gym around the time that you will be there working out there. Peak operating hours are usually between 4:30 – 7:00 PM. Try to visit during these times to see what the atmosphere of the gym is. Are all the ellipticals taken? Is there some lame dude walking around ogling at all the women? These are things you need to know.