There are an abundance of gyms to choose from these days, all of which offer something unique. Keep reading for some advice on picking the one that’s right for you!
The secret is to find one that you’re comfortable in. If you’re in a gym that is intimidating and overwhelming, you more than likely won’t follow through on your fitness goals. It’s vital to feel at ease in the gym you choose.
There are several factors you need to be mindful of when selecting the right gym. Consider what kind of workout you’re striving for and progress from there.
Think about it right now. What are you looking for in a gym? Are you there just to curl dumbbells? Are you interested in taking aerobics classes? Do you want to stick to the cardio machines? Or do you want all of the above?
Let’s address some gym fundamentals first.
WHAT TO THINK ABOUT WHEN BROWSING GYMS
- When is the gym at its busiest?
- When does it open and close?
- What is their cancellation policy?
- What are the pricing options and are there discounts or packages available?
- Are the trainers certified?
- Can you pre-pay for the membership up front or are you billed monthly?
- Is the equipment fairly new?
- Are the employees trained for emergency situations?
- What equipment is most used?
- Does the equipment get replaced often?
- Does the pricing include all services or are there extra fees to be mindful of?
- How many people are in the classes that interest you?
- Are you shown how to use equipment or do they charge for such lessons?
- Does the gym provide child care, and if so, how much do they charge for it?
- Does the gym offer complimentary body composition tests?
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND
Is the gym close to you? You should look for one where nearby to eliminate as much commute time as possible. You’re liable to give up on your fitness goals if you need to travel to a long-distance or high-traffic area. This doesn’t always hold true though. I found a special place in St. Petersburg Florida that I drive over the bridge from Tampa to go to most mornings. Even though I also train at Powerhouse Downtown Tampa. Sometimes an awesome gym is worth the drive.
Think about looking for a gym near your workplace so you can get some exercise before or after work. If you find a gym near your home, all the better, as you can come and go whenever you please, as long as your schedule permits it. This can be particularly useful when you want to get a quick cardio or workout session in on short notice.
HOURS OF OPERATION
A 24-hour gym is an ideal option if your hours are somewhat erratic. You can get more room to work out during non-peak hours, and won’t feel as rushed if others are waiting to use the equipment you’re using.
Before committing to a gym, ensure that the hours you prefer are an option. If they’re not, you might be forcing yourself to work out during peak hours, and as such, are liable to bail on your fitness goals.
Costs are a major factor in your gym selection decision. How much will your membership cost, and what does it come with? It’s better to spend more money on a membership that gives you access to modern, sanitary equipment in an inspirational environment, as opposed to a facility with poor ventilation and equipment that was cutting-edge 10 years ago.
You must also keep in mind the time of the year you’re buying a gym membership. New Year’s and Back to School are trendy sign-up times, and as such, have better deals to capitalize on.
Ensure you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for. Don’t get talked into paying for things you’re not going to need. Most gyms will try to upsell you, so be mindful of this prior to speaking with a consultant. If not, your membership will end up costing you much more than you intended to pay for.
Also, be mindful of gyms that make you commit to a lengthy agreement. There are gyms that lock you into contracts that last as long as three years, with high penalties charged for opting out of the contract early.
Is the facility sanitary? Are there employees who disinfect the equipment on a regular basis? Do they encourage other members to wipe down the machines and free weights after use? Is there garbage on the floor? Are there towels all over the locker room floor? These are all things to keep in mind when selecting a gym.
If the place looks unsanitary, ask yourself if that is something you’re willing to look past. For many people, a dirty gym is indicative of how the company is run. If the facility isn’t property maintained by the owners, why would they show their customers any respect?
MEMBERSHIP FEATURES AND PRIVILEGES
Are you entitled to anything as a member, perhaps discounts at the juice bar or a complementary massage? Do they charge you extra to use the swimming pool? Do they provide child care while you’re working up a sweat, and if so, is it complementary?
You need to find out what the prices are for things that aren’t included in your gym membership. Some gyms offer things for free that other gyms charge you for. Prior to signing any contracts, ensure you know what features and privileges your membership comes with.
All the equipment you use should be safe, simple to use, and in functional condition. Inspect the various equipment brands and styles at each gym you visit.
Pick up the dumbbells during your inspection if you plan to use them. Are they broken or chipped? Are some weight amounts missing that you’re used to using? Have the grips on the free weights been smoothed down through overuse?
Have a look at how members are using the equipment. Are they dropping the weights on the floor without a care? Are barbells being banged on racks during drops? Are machine weights being slammed between reps? Are you prepared to work out among people who don’t know gym etiquette? Can you look past a gym who doesn’t enforce such rules?
If the above things are apparent, red flags should be raised. Such misuse of equipment will inevitably result in their deterioration and possibly harm to patrons. A gym with modern, quality equipment will remain as such through active cleaning, rule enforcement, and respect among members. If the employees and members don’t care about the equipment, you’re in the wrong gym.
What kinds of people are members at the gym you’re interested in? Are there more women or men? Are they strongmen competitors or everyday folk looking to stay in shape? Are they teens and college students, or more of an adult crowd?
Ensure you’re comfortable at the gym you sign up with. If you feel unsafe or intimidated at a gym, keep looking for one feels like the right fit. The people who you’ll be sharing an environment with are a big part of that search.
How is the vibe inside the facility? Is it bland or upbeat? Look for a gym that inspires you to achieve your fitness goals. You won’t last very long if you dread being inside of an environment that doesn’t appeal to you.
The gym that appeals to you will excite you. You’ll see members engaging with one another in a vibrant setting. If they’re snobbish, their attitudes might make others feel uncomfortable, and a hostile environment will develop. Your level of comfort plays a huge role in the outcome of a workout, as well as your motivation to commit to one.
Any gym member will tell you, seeing an “Out of Order” sign on your favorite machine is a momentum killer. Sure, equipment gets broken from time to time. The question is, how fast does the gym react to such issues. If a broken machine remains as such a week after you first saw the sign, you have another red flag.
Keep in mind that some of these machines are made of replacement parts that take time to get to the gym. The length of time it takes to fix a machine in comparison to how severe the issue is will determine if a gym is on the ball about such issues, or if they are simply cutting costs and aren’t prioritizing what the members are paying to use.
USE THE TRIAL BEFORE COMMITTING TO THE MEMBERSHIP!
Almost all gyms offer a trial before asking you to sign up. If you just walk in and purchase a membership without inspecting the gym and all that comes with it, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Ask the staff for a guest pass or trial membership so you can try out the gym first. At the very least, the trial should consist of 1 free day. If you don’t see any trials, look for day passes which will cost, on average, $10 per pass.
INSPECT THE FINE PRINT FIRST!
By going over and agreeing to the terms and conditions, you’ll be mindful of what your obligations are by becoming a member. The fine print will address costs, the cancellation policy, the length of the contract, and other applicable essentials.
When choosing a gym, everything in this article must be taken into consideration. Don’t feel afraid to check out other gyms if something doesn’t sit right with the one you’re visiting.
The fitness industry has exploded over the last decade or so, and now just about every neighborhood has a gym. Ensure you know what you want in one before testing out each gym that interests you.
Be brave – ask questions when you’re meeting with a consultant at a gym. Your membership is ultimately an investment in your body and overall health. The questions you ask are important, and employees who are properly trained will value your questions and address them thoroughly.
Click here for a list of gyms in the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Pete area of Florida!