How To Find the Right Gym

March 9, 2016
Lifestyle

While finding the perfect gym with the perfect workout for weight loss and maintenance may seem overwhelming at first, it’s well worth the effort. Facilities can vary widely, so before joining, here are a few key factors to consider:

1. Availability of Equipment

Evaluate which machines or rooms you would be interested in using. If you don’t have a clue, most facilities are happy to give free tours and even a complimentary training session to help you get your feet wet. While there, you have the opportunity to see everything in action.

In any gym, certain pieces of equipment can be swamped during peak gym hours. If a workout floor has only two stationary bikes and you’d like to use one every time you go, you may have to consider alternative options, such as the times you work out or alternative equipment, to make that gym a suitable option.

Equipment availability also applies to classrooms. For example, Zumba classrooms can only hold a certain number of people. The same goes for spin classes. Is there enough equipment or space to go around?

Don’t forget about lockers, changing rooms, restrooms, showers or saunas, either. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever use it, the convenience of a secure locker and a quick shower may determine if you’ll be able to regularly meet your gym commitment.

2. Flexibility of Hours

What time do you plan on visiting the gym, and will the gym you’re considering be open then? Will you have access to the specific activities you want at the time you need? Many people seeking guaranteed access to equipment and more privacy opt for hours before 7 a.m., between 1 and 4 p.m., or after 7 p.m.—to avoid peak times.

However, not all gyms make their entire facility available at all times. Pools or training rooms may have limited hours. Instructors may be limited or unavailable during off hours. Group fitness classes may change often and are usually tightly scheduled. Make sure that you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits you’re paying for.

3. Pricing

Consider all of your options before enrolling in that monthly payment for the most popular place in town. The gym may have every piece of equipment, service and amenity known to the fitness world, but will you actually use it all? Equally important: Will one price give you access to everything, or do some gym activities require an additional fee?

Gyms can be impressive places, so remember what you are actually looking for in terms of equipment, classes and amenities. If you just want cardio and weight machines, you might be able to opt for a smaller, quieter, less expensive workout space. In contrast, if you just want a group fitness class without all of the other amenities, you may be able to enroll in a class without purchasing a full membership.

Gyms usually have several different plans and packages. Before you sign anything, be aware that the terms of the agreement may stipulate that:

  • Monthly contracts may commit you for up to two years of automatically drafted payments that you cannot cancel unless you move more than two hours away.
  • Some levels of membership may be based on amenities you’ll never use.

If you’re unsure about a gym’s contract terms or pricing, ask a manager for guidance or free passes to try it first. They want your business, so be realistic about your goals and abilities. Make sure you’ll actually use what you’re paying for, and you’ll feel more positive about your choice.

4. Gym Size

Gyms can range from a single room to multiple floors. If you’re concerned about having privacy, some facilities have studio rooms that are open for general use outside of class times. Locations may specialize by activity or discipline. They may be gender-specific, age-specific or able to offer separate areas to accommodate everyone’s personal privacy. Often, the larger the gym, the more diversity you’ll find in equipment and classes, so if you’re looking for change and variety, then a larger gym may be a good fit.

Finding the Right Gym

Jumpstarting your weekly workout routine often involves finding a gym. Ultimately, your choice should be a fitness facility that:

  • provides access to the activities you want to do when you’re able to do them
  • fits your budget
  • gives you a supporting environment where you can feel at ease while working out

You may not find what you’re looking for at the first facility you visit—or the second. You may need to check out the same place several times, but with careful questions and a discerning eye, you’ll find the gym that works for you.