31 Jan The top 5 things to consider when joining a gym
The number one new year resolution is to lose weight. So to help us with this goal, we often look at joining a gym to help us with weight loss or getting healthier. But what kind of fitness business do you choose? A large gym which is part of a chain, a 24 hour gym, CrossFit, a women’s only gym, outdoor training, specialised studios such as Pilates and Yoga?
With more fitness businesses in the market than ever before, it can be a bit confusing and even a little daunting to decide on which is the right one for you, especially if you have never joined a gym before.
I have been training and instructing in gyms for over 20 years so let me share my top 5 personal and practical things to look out for when deciding which fitness business to sign up with.
1. Location, location, location
You know the old saying when it comes to buying real estate, it is exactly the same when choosing a fitness centre. It has to be close to where you live or work – if it isn’t, then you simply won’t go (especially when your motivation starts to wane, it will be the first excuse you use for not going) so make sure it is convenient for you, easy to get to by public transport or there is plenty of parking.
2. Get your free trial
Once you have narrowed your list on the gyms you are considering, make sure you get a free pass or trial – this then gives you the opportunity to really see what the business is like and whether you can see yourself training there. All gyms should have a free trial period so try and go as many times as you can to see which ones suits the goals you want to achieve.
So now you have your free trial, time to visit the gym and see what it is like firsthand. Here is a good check list of items you should be on the lookout for:
- What’s the attitude of the staff – are they pleasant and helpful, or rude and pushy? Are there staff on the floor, supervising the weights area?
- Are the group fitness instructors full of energy and passion? Are the PTs experienced and interested in what you want to achieve?
- What about the other members – are they similar to you or do you feel you are being judged and would be uncomfortable training with them?
- Is it very crowded? Are classes heavily subscribed? Are there queues for equipment?
- Is the ambience (e.g. music, lighting and TV monitors) to your liking?
- What about the atmosphere – is it hot and sweaty, stuffy, air-conditioned, open windows onto heavily trafficked streets, airy and spacious?
- Is the equipment modern, clean and well maintained?
- Are there towels available?
- Does is have a creche for your kids?
- Is drinking water available on the gym floor?
- Are safety and security measures adequate? This applies particularly for 24-hour gyms (and gym parking) which may not be staffed at all hours.
Now this is a big one especially for us girls. Always check out the bathrooms when considering whether to sign up or not.
Are the toilets extra clean and is there enough toilet paper? Are there enough lockers for everyone to use? Do you see people cleaning the bathrooms or at least a schedule of when the bathrooms were cleaned? Do the showers look in good nick? Are hairdryers and straighteners available?
If it looks like you are likely to catch a nasty disease if you step foot into the bathroom, if there is a smell that shouldn’t be in any part of the club, if the tiles are cracked or broken, showers are grimy, long hair all over the floor, toilets are running or bins overflowing – yuk time to move on.
I always say you can’t put a price on your health but realistically, we all have a budget and it is important the gym you decide on doesn’t break the bank. So make sure you shop around to ensure you get the best deal available.
Decide on what memberships you want – either casual, short-term (both good options for newbies) or no-contract or a more long term fixed contract (the advantage with the long term options is you usually get a better rate). Work out how may times you plan to go to the gym so you can figure out the cost per visit as this should help you decide on what membership is best for you.
If down the track you do decide to cancel your membership, what is the policy? Is there a cooling off period? Can you put your membership on hold? Can you transfer your membership to someone else?
Ultimately you must be happy and comfortable at the thought of training there so you will keep that new year resolution going for the rest of the year.