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Choosing a Gym

It's that time of year again, when we make promises to get in shape. "This year is going to be different." Good! Unfortunately choosing a health club can be a daunting task. After all, most of them look pretty good from the outside, how can you know if you're choosing the right one? Get answers to these questions before you commit.
What equipment does the club offer?

Beginners may want to make sure there are plenty of machines. If you're more advanced you might look for more free weights. Gyms offer a wide range of equipment, so shop around until you find the one with the equipment you want to use.

What type of classes or instructions do the gyms offer?

You may want to take a spinning class, learn to box or take pilates. Check to see if they offer programs you're interested in.

Are the club's hours convenient?

Some clubs are open early in the morning, others very late at night. If you work the late shift you might even consider a gym that's open 24 hours. Choose a gym with hours that work for your schedule.

How busy is the gym when you plan to workout?

Visit the gym during the hours you would plan to workout. Is it easy to get around? Is there enough equipment for all the people working out there? If there are long waits for equipment you may get frustrated and stop going. Keep in mind the busiest times in most gyms are between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m.

Is the gym convenient?

Studies have shown that if a gym is more than 12 minutes away, you probably won't go. Look for clubs in between your work and home. If you see it every day you won't have an excuse for not stopping.

Is the gym clean?

Take a quick look under the cardio equipment (treadmills, stationary bikes, elipticals or stairclimbers). Is there dust or buildup? If there is, it's a good indicator the equipment may not be properly maintained. Consider another gym.

Is the staff accessible and what types of support do they offer?

If you don't know how to use a particular piece of equipment, or need help, see what kind of help is available. Remember, gym staff isn't there to work out with you, that's the job of a personal trainer, but they should be able to help you change the settings on equipment or arrange to spot you when you're working with heavier weights.

Does the club have flexible customer service policies?

Can you arrange guest passes for visitors or will the club put your membership on hold if you have an extended illness or vacation? If you're going to be gone for three months at a time you don't want to keep paying for a membership you're not using.

Are there fitness professionals available for personal training sessions?

Personal trainers can get you started off right. If you want private instruction or a specialized workout program, does the gym offer information about professionals who can provide those services?

Do you feel comfortable in the gym?

Environment is important. Does the gym provide an atmosphere that you enjoy enough to keep coming back? Some things you can change, like the music by wearing a headset. But also make sure you're comfortable with the temperature, lighting and locker facilities.

How much is it going to cost you?

Prices can vary widely from gym to gym. See what specials are running or if there are benefits to signing long term commitments. Also look for hidden fees. Are lockers extra or included? How about towels? And if the gym is part of a chain, do you get access to all the clubs? If you move, how much is it going to cost you to cancel your membership? For beginners, some clubs offer free personal training sessions, massages or specialized classes just for joining. Read the fine print and find out all the freebies.

Ask for references.

Talk to the people currently going to the gym. Ask what they like and dislike most. Decide if the advantages outweigh any disadvantages.

Finally, try before you buy.

If you're still not sure, some gyms offer daily or weekly trial memberships. It'll give you a chance to see if the gym meets your needs. What are you waiting for? Give 'em a call today!

Call for a FREE Consultation (305) 296-3434
CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

1/8/2004
Updated 12/21/2005