It’s the busiest time of year for fitness and health clubs. This is the crazy period. Believe me I work at these places… I know! It’s the time of year when everyone comes out of hiding. Like they suddenly remember they have gym membership. Plus, you see a HUGE influx of new members. The question is, with so many options which facility do you choose? Even in our small city we have 5 large gyms. That’s not counting the pilates studio, yoga studio, cardio barre, the YMCA, dance studios, crossfit boxes, bootcamps, martial arts studios and the city run gym and classes. So how I do you know which one is going to work for you?
Location, Location, Location
While usually associated with realtors location is important in your gym choice too. While a fancy building with all the latest equipment might look enticing, if it’s too far away are you actually going to use it? So many gyms see members sign up all eager and committed in January, only to never see them again after February. Great for them, not so great for your pocketbook if you signed a contract. Make sure the gym is close to your house, college, school or work. If you do a school run perhaps look for locations near your kids school. Having a place to workout near your home, school or work is especially good if you get together with friends or work colleagues and go to the gym together. Studies have shown that having a workout buddy makes you accountable and therefore more likely to stick to your workout routine. So broaden your search!
Not all gyms are created equal when it comes to opening hours. Some places only open until 10pm, and close early on weekends. For us, some evenings we don’t get to the gym until 9:30pm so that’s just won’t work for us. While it is common sense, just be aware that circumstances change. Even though right now you workout in the morning, that doesn’t mean that is going to hold true for the whole year ahead. If your job changes, you switch career, finish school, of the kids have summer off school etc then your schedule changes. All of a sudden you want to workout late at night and the gym is closed! It’s also worth noting that some gyms are open 24/7… like they never close, ok except on holidays. This is definitely an appealing feature. Especially if you work shifts.
What kind of exerciser are you? If you are a beginner it’s easy to get intimidated by the big gyms so maybe a smaller more family run or boutique fitness studio would suit you better initially? If you prefer lifting free weights does the gym have the equipment you want? Conversely some only have free weights and no machines, so make sure the equipment is going to fit your preferred training style. If you are a woman who is self conscious about working out then consider a women only facility. One of the big draws of the larger gyms, is the group fitness classes. If you do want to incorporate group classes into your routine then please check the gym’s current class schedule. If you don’t finish work till 6pm, and the classes all finish at 7pm then chances are this isn’t the place for you!
For some the gym amenities can be deciding factors. Do you need showers? This can be especially noticeable in smaller boutique style studios which may only have one or two restrooms and no showers. Does the gym provide toiletries, hairdryers, towels etc? If you have children, does the gym have a daycare? Or are there other childcare facilities nearby? Do those childcare opening hours coincide with your workout times? It could be the absolute best local gym, but if you can’t put little Johnny in the creche at 11am then how is it going to work? Walk through ALL the amenities, check out the changing rooms, lockers, creche, steam room, jacuzzi, bathrooms, etc. Free shampoo is great, but if you have to pay for parking then maybe it’s not the deciding factor you should be considering?
Price & Fees
For most people this is the dealbreaker! In January many gyms have new member deals. With so many great offers it’s easy to get caught up in the bargains before realizing that the gym isn’t right for you and your lifestyle. One tip for the hard sell is, don’t get sidetracked by the savings! Even if you have to walk away for a while, and come back a day or two later. Make sure the contract works for you. If you aren’t prepared for a regular monthly fee, or don’t want to commit to a contract, then research pay as you go locations like the YMCA, smaller private gyms or some yoga/pilates studios. Many of these places have “drop-in” rates too.
Follow these tips to make sure this is going to be the right gym and financial commitment for you and your family.
Do you have any tips for people trying to find a gym?
Are you a member at a gym?
What do you consider when joining a gym?
You made a good point to look for a gym that is close to the location where you’re normally are for convenience, as well as to invite your friends over for an enjoyable workout session together. It makes sense because I don’t have to travel to and fro from varying places hence it will be saving my energy when I perform my workout routines there. I’ll certainly follow your advice as soon as I’m ready to step back in the gym once more for body sculpting.
Convenience is key because you need to eliminate excuses!
These are all important factors, I make it a point to look for gym that’s close to home especially since I have a household to manage and kids to take care of. It’s nice to not have to go too far just to get fit! The price and amenities are definitely important as well.
Location location location!
I used to be a member of a gym, but found it much easier to work out at home. One of the most important thing to me when selecting a gym, besides fees and location, is whether they keep their equipment well maintained and clean. I’ve been to gyms where something is always broken and it was frustrating.
Ugh that can be frustrating. I do about 50/50 home and gym workouts
I think the very first thing I look for is the price, then the amenities! I’m actually looking for a gym with day care! These are some great tips and I will definitely keep them in mind!
Great, glad they helped! Good luck with your search!
Foodie Finds Home
These are all good tips. I usually avoid gyms because I’m fairly self conscious about going, but when I did go I looked for locations and equipment.
No need to be self conscious! Everyone is usually in a world of their own anyway 🙂
Amenities like childcare are so important to me. I just joined a gym because it has childcare and I can work out with my son there.
yep so many moms at our gym, the childcare gets really busy sometimes
Great points for those deciding to take action in the new year. I’m currently a member of 24 hour Fitness because I can walk to it if I need to and I have a gym at work.
exactly! Find something that fits your schedule!
I agree. I would rather join a small gym as well especially since I am a beginner.
Yep. So many options now that we can all find something that suits our needs
Omg so many great tips! I really should look for a gym and get back into working out
yes, consider this a kick up the pants 😉
I wouldn’t even consider a gym that does not have an indoor pool. Swimming is one of my favorite exercises, and I want to be able to do it year round, so an indoor pool is a must.
For us too! Though ours is outdoor!
I’m not a gym person, but I find these tips are very informative and helpful. I can use these tips once I decide to go the gym and do some exercise.
definitely do. Really these points apply to anything.. hairdresser, gym, dentist
I agree that location and price are two of the biggest factors. If your gym is too far away to too expensive to continue to pay, you won’t keep up your commitment to exercise.
exactly! Location and opening hours was the deciding factor for us
Divya @ Eat. Teach. Blog.
When you live in a rural town, you’ll take what you can get. Hahaha. Come read this post I wrote on my blog about the kind of fitness classes I’m taking 🙂
(I put it in my website link – come check it out!)
Hahaha checked it out Divya! Great post, commented there but yes totally agree with all your points. I’ve been teaching Group Fitness for 20 years so I totally see the parallel between teaching and teaching fitness classes
I love 24/7 access. That is what sells me! Location is pretty important too!
Yep especially important if you work weird hours, and let’s face it most of us do nowadays!
Great tips!! I don’t currently have a gym membership, but my husband does and there is so much that goes into choosing the one for you. Looking at those beginning of the year discounts is a great idea!
Yep, plus they usually let you have a free 7-14 day membership to try things out.
We do the belong to a gym anymore, as I find myself running trails more often. But I sure do miss the lap lanes!
Strength is important too Amber! Make sure to get some home workouts in too. It’ll help your running too!
I fyou are going to join a gym it definitely has to be the right one for you, you don’t want something that makes your uncomfortable! I work out at home because i tend to dislike ALL gyms, haha
I do both. I like mixing it up
These are great tips ! Good to know when signing a membership with a new gym!
Yep especially if it’s a contract that’s tough to get out of
Wow. Awesome tips to looking for a gym. I am not going to a gym now, but would like to consider in a bit. So these are especially helpful to me.
Location is definitely the most important thing. If the gym is 10 miles out of the way, the chances of you going are slim to none especially on days you don’t feel motivated which is going to happen….let’s be real. These are great tips! xx
exactly. A gym in the next city has an amazing pool but it’s a 25 min drive, vs 5 mins for the local pool.
robin masshole mommy
This is a great list of things to watch out for. I learned about hidden fees the hard way one month with my old gym. All of the sudden a $50 charge showed up one month on top of my monthly fee. Turns out it was some hidden yearly membership fee.
uh oh, that’s not good!