Today was the first day I finally used my new gym membership. I joined because it has just been too darn cold outside to run and have races to train for, Mother Nature! I ended up joining my old gym for a number of reasons and thought I would share my thoughts with you all. So here are my top things I look for when joining a gym!
If it is inconvenient to get to, you won’t go. I chose a gym that has multiple locations, one near my house and one on my way to school. This way, I have no excuse that the gym is “out of the way”!
#2 Well-Cared For Facilities
Not only should the gym be clean, but also well kept. Are there broken fixtures, blown light bulbs, cracks in the floor tiles? A gym that can’t be bothered to fix the little things doesn’t care enough. It tells me that when something important breaks, they might drag there feet when getting around to fixing it.
#3 Membership Fees
You often get what you pay for. Shop around and see exactly what is offered at various gyms for the price. Do you have to pay extra for anything like classes or pool use? Do they offer discounts through your employer, health insurance, AAA members? Are you locked into a contract and what is the cancellation fee? Make sure you know exactly how much this is going to cost each month.
#4 Friendly Atmosphere
I’m talking about both the staff and the patrons here. I’ve been to awesome gyms with amazing people willing to help you out or leave you alone, whatever you needed. I’ve also been to gyms where the trainers think they are gods or pester you to sign up for training. Just make sure you feel comfortable when you are there. If you don’t like being there, then you won’t go and it will be a waste of money.
#5 Available Help from Staff
I’m not talking about personal training but rather the willingness of staff to show you how things work. You need to pay for a full fledged trainer but the staff should be happy to show you how that new piece of equipment works. They might offer training sessions but shouldn’t push them.
#6 A Variety of Classes and Class Times
If you don’t use the classes, then you can skip this one. For me, I enjoy going to a class occasionally, and early morning and weekend classes are a must. Lots of places don’t even offer weekend classes. If I want to be able to use them, I need classes offered at the times I can go. Also make sure that they don’t cost extra because what a bummer that would be!
#7 A Large, Well-Stocked Weight Room
Lifting free weights does some amazing things for your body, and muscle helps you burn more calories. I love lifting but even if I don’t use the equipment, the gym having a good lifting area shows me that they know something about health and fitness and are providing all the tools you need to succeed. I might not use those 100+ lb dumbbells but I like knowing they are there, because someone needs them. Exercise isn’t just about cardio.
#8 Number of Cardio Machines verses Members
To me, there is nothing worse than cardio equipment sign-up sheets. It makes me wonder how busy the gym really gets. Do you really want to fight over the treadmill? Or the 5lb dumbbells? Or the squat rack? No, you don’t. So just keep an eye out whether the sign up sheet is mandatory or there for only the busiest of days. A good gym will have a way to keep crowding down, whether it is by adding more equipment or controlling membership rates.
This ones seems obvious but you might forget, join a gym that is open when you need it to be. You can only work out before work? Make sure your gym opens early enough. Late night lifter? What time do they close? Don’t assume all gyms are 24-hour.
This one is kind of a bonus. My current gym has lots of cool stuff though like a pool (even an outdoor one for summer lounging!), a steam room, massages by appointment (for a fee), multiple locations. I might not always use all this stuff but I like having it. What if I hurt my ankle and the only cardio I could do was swimming? No big deal, I’ll hit the pool!
What is the most important thing you look for in a gym?