Since signing the contract of my very first gym membership as a teenager I have been to dozens and dozens of various gyms and fitness centers either working, training, or visiting. I can tell you a gym is not just a gym. Different ones cater to different populations. It’s important to know what you want and need in a gym before signing your membership contract. Your gym experience is directly related to your fitness results. Here are some things to consider when choosing your next gym….
First I want you to think about what type of fitness behaviors you have. Are you short on time? Do you not like the gym atmosphere? Are you intimidated by large clubs? Is transportation an issue? Is it easier for you to train with a partner? Do you just not like working out? Are group fitness classes the best option for you? Do you need a personal trainer to reach your goals? What do you use at the gym the most; free weights, machines, cardio equipment? Do you need a towel service so you can shower and change for work? Are you a woman who doesn’t like working out around men? Are you a man that feels judged if you like to powerlift?
Take a moment to search for your weakness. What keeps you from going to the gym or what keeps you from reaching your goals? I see too many people lie to themselves about reaching their fitness goals. They’ll even promise them self that they will go to the gym more, only to disappoint. My point is to make going to the gym easy, make it unavoidable! Don’t pick the gym 35 minutes from your house because it has a cool steam room! Be realistic with yourself first and stop setting yourself up for failure.
Here is a list to help you pick the perfect gym for you…
1. Location, location, location
First things first. Go visit the closest gym to your residence. Gym proximity = more visits, in most cases. Unless it doesn’t have equipment you need (and seriously consider what you actually need) this should be your pick. Even if it is more costly than another gym. The difference in price won’t matter if you don’t use the gym at all. Too many fall into the trap of traveling further because a gym is less money.
2. Equipment, Classes, and Services
Only if you are a seasoned gym warrior should these things matter. Only if there are certain types of equipment, classes, and services you know you need to stick with your workout program. This would include, heavier dumbbells for the bigger/stronger athlete, personal training services, those who love to practice yoga and want them included in their membership, racquetball courts or a pool on site, etc. Also consider the times and variety of group fitness classes if that is a large part of your program. It would be a bummer if you joined a club for Zumba classes and find out they only offer them at times you can not participate.
3. Child Services
Don’t think you have time for the gym? Try being a single mother or father that doesn’t have someone to watch your kids. If you have kids you just might have to ignore my top 2 reasons above and choose a gym if it has child care services. Some, though rare, even have a “gym-like” set up for little kids to workout in.
4. Environment/ Comfort
If you are a serious gym go-er you should consider the gym’s environment or attitude. Some workout clubs prefer to attract different populations. Do you want just women in the gym? Health Works or Shapes might be your choice. If you like to body build or powerlift I would check out the equipment and make sure they are available for those types of sports. Planet Fitness is probably not the place to go. After all, it is the “judgement free zone” unless of course you like lifting weights. In that case you will be judged?????? But if you are uncomfortable at the gym you will be less likely to visit it. For most, gyms are already uninviting.
* Check the gym out thoroughly. You have every right to tour the gym and even try it out. Do not feel like you have to sign on the dotted line because you walked through the door. I also recommend asking (or telling them) to workout once to see how it “flows” and find out whether or not it is for you. Read my article on how to get in to any gym for free for more helpful tips!