Photo credit: Lacy K. Fuller
Joining a gym isn’t for everyone, but if it’s something you’re considering the following five factors may help you in selecting the right gym for you:
- Cost – Membership fees are, of course, one of the most important factors involved in selecting a gym. Locally owned gyms will typically have more flexibility with their fees and may have arrangements with companies in the area to offer employees discounts. If you’re looking for a lower priced gym try to find one with more basic features. You will generally pay more for a membership if the gym has special additional facilities like a swimming pool or a climbing wall. You may also be able to reduce the amount you pay if you go in on a group or couple’s membership with your partner, friend(s), or sibling(s). Many gyms list their fees on their website so you can research from the comfort of your own home without being under any pressure to sign up immediately. Once you’ve done your window shopping and have narrowed your choices down to a shorter list based on cost, you can use the rest of the tips listed here to further pare down your options.
- Location – From a point of practicality it might be a good idea to find a gym that’s near to either your home or your office (or, even better, somewhere in between). Selecting a gym that’s out of the way of your daily commute can make it more difficult to encourage yourself to go workout, particularly if you exercise in the evenings after a long day of work. If you’re a person who enjoys scheduled classes and/or group fitness, having a membership at a gym that’s close to your office will make it easier to arrive at classes on time, or get to work after a morning session. A gym that’s within walking or biking distance of your home or office can give you the additional opportunity of being active on the way to and from your workout, a bonus warm up and cool down.
- Programs – If you’ve found several options that fit your budget and have a convenient location, the next thing you can look at is the different program offerings each gym provides. Again these are often listed on a gym’s website, and the staff at the gym should be more than happy to show you around and give you the rundown on all the wonderful things they offer. Some gyms offer a trial membership where you can use their facilities for several days at no cost to help you decide if theirs is the right gym for you. Some of the more common program gyms offer are:
- Amenities – Beyond the classes and programs offered by gyms, it’s good to look at what other amenities are available to you as a member. From the diversity of the weight lifting equipment and cardio machines to swimming pools, on-site massage, juice bars and restaurants, gyms these days have a wide range of conveniences and perks to make your exercise experience the best it can be. Take a look at the offerings available to you depending on your membership level and choose something that’s both affordable and makes you excited to workout. Some people really enjoy having the ability to add lap swimming to their exercise routine where others really love the reward of sitting in a sauna once their workout is complete. If you have a few different gyms on your list, finding one with just the right amenities can make your final decision an easy one. Some things to look for when finding the right gym for you are:
- Available Equipment and Machines
- Condition, Size, and Convenience of Locker Rooms
- Swimming Pool
- Racquetball/Tennis Courts
- Climbing Wall
- Spa/Sauna/Steam Room
- Tanning Beds
- Cafe/Juice Bar
- Accountability Buddies – Having an accountability buddy is a really great way to stay on track with your fitness routine. If you have a friend, colleague, sibling, or partner who already goes to a gym it might be worthwhile to get a membership there as well. If you go to the same gym as someone you’re close to you can make plans to meet up at specific times and workout together. Exercising with a partner gives you someone with whom you can discuss techniques, share ideas or experience, and offer encouragement. Having a buddy with you also gives you a built in spotter and the opportunity to do things that are more fun with a friend (such as racquetball or tennis). The best part of teaming up with someone else is knowing they’re expecting you; this will make you more motivated to show up and less likely to skip out on your workout.
Hopefully these tips will help you to begin your journey to find for the perfect gym for your lifestyle. The best place to start is with an internet search or skim through the yellow pages, and then once you have a list of options, use the five factors above to assist you on your way to adding more fitness, health, and happiness to your active life.