- PhillyFIT EVENTS
- CONTRIBUTE CONTENT
By Matt Weik
Let’s face it, there are a million different gyms out there today and all of them are a little bit different. You have your Curves for the ladies, Powerhouse for the powerlifters, Gold’s for the bodybuilders, and so on and so forth. Finding one that you feel comfortable with is key. If you join a gym where you are uncomfortable or intimidated, you will more than likely quit and give up. Therefore it is important to really feel at home with whatever gym you choose.
So think about what you want in a gym. Are you strictly there to lift weights? Do you want to take aerobics classes? Do you only want it for the cardio equipment? Do you want all of these things? As you can see there are many options you need to think about when deciding what gym would suit you best. You need to think about what type of workout you want to get and go from there.
Let’s go over some basics of choosing a gym that fits you.
Questions to Ask While Visiting a Gym
Things to Consider
Location ~ Is the location of the gym accessible to you? You want to find a gym where you don’t have to travel very far and that you know you wouldn’t mind driving to. If the gym is too far and cuts into too much time of your day, more than likely you aren’t going to stick with it too long or as often as you would like. Find a place that is possibly close to where you work so right before or after work you can go there or during a lunch hour. Look to see if there is anything close to your house. That will enable you to go to the gym whenever you want and you don’t have to worry about cutting into precious time during the day, especially good when you are looking for a quick workout or some cardio.
Hours of Operation ~ Do their hours jive with your schedule? Can you comfortably get in a workout and not be pushed for time? You want to make sure that if you are paying for a membership that your workout schedule is well within their hours of operation. If not, then you will be wasting your money by not being able to full utilize their facility and get a good workout. Your best choice would be a gym that is open twenty-four hours a day. That would ensure you that no matter what time it is, you can go get in a workout.
Cost ~ This should really be at the top of your list. How much money will it cost you and will you get your money’s worth? It’s much easier to spend a little extra money on a membership with a gym that has top-of-the-line equipment and that is more inspirational to be in rather than a worn-down gym that looks like a cave.
You also need to realize what time of the year you are purchasing a membership. Gyms tend to have better deals during the high times of the year such as around New Year’s and in September. If you can hold off getting a membership until these times you will surely end up saving some money in the long run.
Make sure you are paying for exactly what you want for that price. Don’t get coaxed into adding on services that you aren’t going to use or paying for things that don’t interest you. Many gyms will nickel and dime you to death; watch out for salesmen who run down a list of extra options/services that you could add to your membership.
Another thing you want to watch out for are gyms that make you lock in with a long-term agreement. These places will lock you into your contract for one to three years and there is no way to get out. Say down the road you don’t like the gym anymore or something happens that turns you off: if you are locked in you have no way of getting out of it. Now you are stuck paying for a gym that you won’t use or dreading every day you force yourself to go.
Cleanliness ~ How clean is the facility? Are there staff members who wipe down the equipment daily? Do they make sure members wipe down their equipment after using it? Is there trash on the floor? Are their locker rooms a mess? These are all things to consider when purchasing a membership. If the place looks like a mess, you need to evaluate if that is something you can put up with every day visiting the gym. For most people, a trashy gym is a huge turnoff. If they can’t take care of their facility, how do you expect them to take care of you?
Membership Privileges and Features ~ Do you get discounts on anything they sell once you are a member? Do you get to tan and use the pool for free or is there an extra charge? Do they have massage therapists? Is there a gym child care to take your kid to while you work out? Is there a juice or snack bar? How much will you be paying for these things? You need to find out what extra features come with the membership and what you have to pay extra for. See if there are any perks to joining their gym over another one. Make sure you understand exactly what comes with your membership and what doesn’t before you sign any papers.
Equipment ~ The equipment that you use needs to be in good working condition with no problems with its usage. Look at the different styles and brands of equipment that they have and make sure that it is something you are interested in using. How is the free weight room? Make sure the dumbbells aren’t broken or that there aren’t dumbbells missing or that one of the pairs isn’t missing. Make sure the grips on the barbells aren’t worn down so badly they are completely smooth, which would compromise your grip. Look around to see how the members are handling the equipment. Are they dropping the dumbbells on the floor? Are they banging the barbell off the rack or ground? Are they slamming the machine weights down when they are done with a set? If you see any of these things, be wary about the gym and the equipment. Surely there are going to be some serious issues and damages to equipment when they are used like that. Especially look to see how the staff handles a situation like that. If they have good equipment, they will surely make sure things like that don’t happen. If the staff doesn’t seem to care, more than likely their equipment is junk.
Clientele ~ What types of people are working out at the gym? Do you see many men? Do you see mainly women? Is there a good split between both? Make sure you feel comfortable working around the people you see at the gym. Some gyms are known for being more hardcore such as the powerlifting gyms and the bodybuilding gyms. If you feel intimidated or unsafe being around these types of people when working out then keep searching for a place that you can call home. Remember, searching for the right gym is all about you, no one else.
Atmosphere ~ How is the atmosphere of the gym? Is it upbeat or is it bland? Find a gym that is inspirational and makes you want to work out. There is nothing worse than going to a gym to work out and feeling like you are stuck in a dreary day. Find a gym that is bright and energizes you. Look around and see how the members are interacting. Are they friendly or are they snobs? Comfort level plays a huge part in motivating yourself to go to the gym for a grueling workout.
Maintenance ~ There is nothing more frustrating than going to the gym to hit a body part and seeing that a piece you always use is broken. How quickly is a piece of equipment fixed after being broken? Do you go tell someone that the equipment isn’t working and then when you come back a week later it is still broken? Some pieces of equipment do take some time to fix depending on the parts they have to order, but how quickly does the gym deal with to the situation? If it takes a long time to fix a piece of equipment, that is a telltale sign that they are pinching money and will hold off as long as possible to replace something just so they don’t have to spend any money.
Always try out the gym before you purchase a membership!
Let me just say this to start off - No matter what you see, always try out the gym before you purchase a membership. You will make a big mistake if you just walk in and buy a membership without looking around at other options as well as seeing how the gym you are looking at is operating. You want to ask for a trial membership, or a guest pass, or anything they have that will allow you to try out the gym for at least one day. Most places will give you a pass to try it out, however for those who don’t the average price for a day pass is roughly around ten dollars. Even if they make you pay, it will be well worth it to see if you like it. A ten dollar investment is much better than spending five hundred dollars and hating every minute. You want to go to the gym at the same time that you would normally work out. This will allow you to see how busy it gets during the times you are going to be there.
When you decide on a gym, ALWAYS read the fine print before you sign!
By reading the agreement including the fine print, it makes you aware of the contract you are signing. This can include how you will be paying for the membership, the term of the contract, cancellation policy, and other pertinent information that you need to know.
Hopefully, this made things a little easier for you in deciding what gym to join. When it comes down to it, you really need to take all of the things mentioned above into consideration. If you don’t like something about the gym, check out some other places. In the past couple of years, the fitness industry has really taken off, so gyms are popping up almost everywhere. Make sure you understand what you want before looking and make a list of things you want to look for and ask before you go visiting gyms. When you are there, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the salesman tries to avoid any of your questions or is answering around the question without truly answering it for you, cross that gym off your list and keep looking. When it comes down to it, a gym membership is an investment towards better health. Good luck and happy searching!
Fitness expert and author Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN has been in the fitness industry since 2002. He is currently the Manager of the MET-Rx Team Sports division. He works with colleges and professional sports teams all across the U.S. to supply them with recovery and nutritional products for their athletes. Matt is an established writer, with hundreds of articles and interviews in magazines and on websites. He has research published on exercise dependence and has been featured on many websites and radio shows. Matt is also a certified personal trainer, certified strength and conditioning specialist, as well as being a certified sports nutritionist. He has worked with everyone from middle school athletes all the way up to pro athletes and celebrities. More information can be found on Matt’s website: www.MattWeik.com.
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