You've thought about it for a long time and have decided that you're ready to make the commitment. But before you jump in too soon and find yourself stuck in a yearlong contract, there are a few things you need to consider before joining a gym.
Gyms come in all sizes and price ranges, just like everything else. Choosing the right gym for you is similar to choosing a car; there are Cadillac gyms that offer everything but the kitchen sink, and there are Ford gyms that offer the basics. It is up to you to decide what options you want and can afford before signing on the dotted line.
Location: Is it close to where you live? Is it on your way home from work? If it's not easily accessible, then it can be very tempting to keep on driving and skip the workout. Will you feel safe coming and going at this location by yourself even at odd hours of the day? What are the safety precautions the gym has in place in case an emergency does arise?
Price: If the gym you are considering offers lots of services that you will never use, such as tanning beds, free weights and handball courts at a premium price, you may want to shop around to see if there is a gym that offers just what you are looking for at a price that better fits your budget.
Gyms, like most other businesses, need your patronage, so don't be afraid to bargain for a better price. Have a budget in mind, share it with the person helping you and stick to it. Friends: Do your friends belong or are they interested in joining with you? The buddy system is an added incentive for working out. It's a lot harder to drive by the gym without stopping when a friend is meeting you there. Another benefit is that many gyms offer two-for-one promotions at different times of the year, so you could save money while spending more time with your friends.
Hours of operation: If the gym opens at 8 a.m. and the best time for you to work out is between 6 and 7 a.m., that gym is not the one for you. Some gyms offer 24-hour access, allowing members to come and go as they please. If the gym isn't open when you have time to work out, then it's not worth the cost of the membership.
Trainers: If you are getting started on a fitness program or are interested in training for an event, a personal trainer can offer valuable advice on how to meet your personal goals. Many gyms have trainers on staff or have trainers who are available by appointment. And don't be shy about asking for a trainer's help in performing individual exercises if you're not sure - it's what they're there for.
Types of equipment available: If you are interested mainly in a cardio workout, but the gym you are considering has just a few cardio machines and a whole room full of free weights you may want to continue your quest for a gym. Different gyms offer different equipment, and nothing's worse than standing in line for a treadmill.
Atmosphere: Do you feel comfortable in the gym? Do you think you will fit in with the current clientele you observe in the gym? If everyone there has ripped bodies and appear to be training for a bodybuilding contest, while you just want to get back in shape, then you may want to look for a more casual gym environment.
The right gym can make the difference between meeting your fitness goals and simply wasting money. By researching different gyms and the options they offer and visiting the ones that sound the most appealing, you will soon find the right gym for you at a cost that fits your budget. So whether you desire a Cadillac gym or a Ford gym, get moving and find the gym of your dreams.