Many people want to change their life through exercise but get stopped at the first hurdle of choosing a gym. Fortunately, the right gym can be a great fitness motivator. We will help you make the best decision for you and your fitness success.
Joining a health club might be the magic bullet to inspire you to work out routinely. Before you sign on the dotted line, though, you must decide what’s important to you. To help ensure the success of your new lifestyle, you might want to do a little research before you choose a health club. Be sure the club you choose suits your personal needs and fitness goals.
Health clubs can vary greatly not only in price but also in size, amenities, programs offered, hours, convenience, and, most importantly, motivational atmosphere. Choosing a health club that’s right for you is crucial to your success. You’ll be more likely to stick with your workout regimen, get healthy, and stay fit if you join a high-quality health club.
If you’re lucky enough to have your choice of clubs, you should weigh your options carefully. Take a close look at what each health club offers. Join the club that has the best chance of helping you develop a steady fitness habit. There are a number of factors you should consider when you’re choosing the best health club for you.
Heath Club Location Maybe the Most Important Thing When Choosing A Gym
One of the most critical factors you should consider when choosing a health club is the location. If you only have one gym close to where you live or work, that’s probably the one you need to join, even if the facilities aren’t top-notch. You’re more likely to use a mediocre fitness center around the corner than a first-rate gym that’s 45 minutes away. If you have a routine of basic exercises, you can get a good workout in just about any facility that calls itself a gym. If you are like me, you are busy, and time is quickly more valuable than money. When considering the location, you can also find how much your travel time is worth to you. Traveling 45 minutes to the gym is 1.5 hours a day to get to the gym, plus your time at the gym. The reason the location is so important is that if it is close and convenient, then you will go. If it is hard to get there that will only turn into an excuse.
Equipment Quality and Quantity
It’s also very important that you inspect the equipment during your health club search. The quick tour that most health club salespeople will take you on can be deceiving. Slow down the pace of your tour and inspect the equipment throughout the health club. Even if they have all the equipment you want, they may not all be in proper working condition. Take your time and test some of the equipment for quality and functionality. The extra time spent investigating your new health club will be well worth it. The weight-training machines, treadmills, bicycles, mats, balls, and all other equipment should be clean, modern, and in good working order.
There should also be enough equipment so that you won’t have to wait in line. Wall to wall mirrors can make a health club look much larger than it really is and give you the impression that the lines of high-tech fitness machines and free weights are endless. You might find during your first workout, though, that there’s not enough equipment, machines, or weights when the crowd shows up. Treadmills are the most popular piece of equipment at health clubs and if they don’t have enough, you’ll have to wait for a turn. Take your tour of the gym during the time of day you intend to work out. This will give you the best idea of how many people will be there when you are trying to use the equipment.
The Spartan Agrees WIth Priorities #1 and #2 of Location and Equipment.
Choosing A Gym With The Right Amenities
Make sure the health club you choose has the kind of equipment and facilities that you want most. Do they have enough treadmills, exercise bikes, free weights, and other exercise machines? Are they the types you prefer? Do they have a place for you to stretch and use an exercise ball or foam roller? Other common things you may want to include is a pool, room for aerobics and dance classes, basketball court, racquetball or handball courts, sauna, steam room, whirlpool. You might also want to know if the health club has a babysitting service.
Many budget health clubs have popped up over the years that offer the basics and nothing more at a discount price. Although these so-called health clubs can have a tempting price tag, they may not meet all your fitness needs. It’s always a good investment to pay a little more per month to improve your health. Some of the higher-end health clubs will offer a great deal more for the money. If you travel a lot, you can also see if they are affiliated with other health clubs around the country. It is nice to be able to use a real gym and not, that tiny room the hotel calls a gym.
Fitness Programs and Classes
When choosing a gym or health club, you should think about what types of programs and fitness classes you may be interested in. Will you enroll in classes at your health club, or are you simply there to do your own workout and nothing more? Many health clubs offer great classes for kickboxing, spin, yoga, pilates, ab workouts, weight loss, toning, swimming, and many more. If you’re looking for these types of classes, make sure you thoroughly research your potential health club. Ensure that they offer the classes you want to take at convenient times so that you’ll be able to attend.
Health Club Staff
A friendly, knowledgeable health club staff may also be an important factor when you’re choosing a gym. If you don’t have a lot of fitness experience, you may want guidance from the health club staff. You can enlist the services of a personal trainer to teach you how to do certain exercises or to construct the perfect fitness plan for you to quickly and safely reach your fitness goals. It’s always nice to be greeted by a friendly face at the door when you enter your health club and hear a friendly “have a nice day” when you’re leaving after your workout! Some clubs also have dieticians, massage therapists, and physical therapists who offer extra services to members. Ask about these services if they’re important to you.
Health Club Hours
The hours of your new health club are important if you plan on working out very early or late. The average health club will be packed during peak hours. These are usually early mornings from 7-10am and evenings from 4-7pm. You might find it difficult to work out if the gym’s very busy. If you plan on using the health club during these peak hours, you should tour during these hours. Then you can assess whether or not you’ll be able to mix in with the crowd and successfully complete your workouts.
If you use the gym during off-peak hours, you’ll probably feel like you have it all to yourself and can really get things done. Some health clubs open extremely early and stay open very late so you can work out at the most convenient time for you. There are even some 24-hour fitness centers that never close their doors.
Health Club Environment and Social Interaction
You should also consider whether social interaction with other members when choosing a gym. Some local health clubs are known as “meet markets” or pick up gyms. If this isn’t an attractive feature for you, you should find out before you join the club. You want to feel comfortable the entire time you’re at the gym. You may not want to feel like you have to dress up to work out or feel like people are watching you. This is one of the reasons a lot of gyms offer private women’s areas to attract health club members who value their privacy.
Health Club Maintenance
Health club maintenance habits can be a tricky subject to investigate when you’re looking for a health club. During your initial tour, look for “out of order” signs. If there are enough to count, this health club may not be maintaining their equipment very well. This can be a common problem with fitness gyms and there is nothing worse than finding out after you sign the membership agreement. Look around and make sure the health club is up to par. Check to see if the machines run smoothly, if there are any frayed cables, and if the locker rooms are clean and maintained. You’ll likely see this problem a lot in the lower-end budget gyms. Don’t get sucked in — you always get what you pay for in the end.
Choosing A Gym Based On Cost
You should never be afraid to negotiate the cost of your membership when choosing a gym. Most health clubs offer specials. The sales rep obviously wants you to sign up at a higher rate so they can make more in commissions. However, they also want you to join their health club and not the one down the street. You could use a deal that another health club has offered as leverage with the gym you really want to join. Most gyms and health clubs will reduce or even waive the down payment as well, but sometimes you have to ask before they’ll offer it. The bottom line is to find the health club or gym you like, negotiate the best membership rates you can, and start using everything your health club or gym has to offer.
The average annual fees for the franchise gyms is about $50 a month or $600 a year. The price does change by location, if you live in a more expensive area the price will be more. The cheapest franchise gym is usually Planet Fitness and the most expensive is usually Lifetime Fitness (1).
Health Club Contract
Always read the contract thoroughly before you sign anything. Some health clubs have hidden fees rolled into their gym membership plans that may catch you by surprise later on. They might charge you annual fees for health club improvement or membership rate guarantees. These are really just sneaky ways for health clubs to make a bit extra each year on top of what they already charge you for the gym membership.
You might question why you would have to pay for gym improvements if you’re already paying $10-$100 a month for the membership in the first place. Shouldn’t your monthly dues go towards all of that? Most people don’t question these fees, but if more people did, maybe these gyms wouldn’t get away with it as often as they do. You should ask how frequently monthly dues will be increased. Also, find out upfront what your agreed-upon rate will include. Does it include full use of the health club? Does it include all classes and programs that the health club offers? If you know these things upfront, your overall experience at your new health club will be much more enjoyable. You won’t have to worry about the hidden fees affecting your wallet.
Health Club Policies
It’s never a bad idea to read up on and get familiar with the health club’s policies before choosing a gym. You don’t want to get caught by a surprise later on down the line when you break a rule that you didn’t know existed. Most gyms have a dress code concerning workout clothing. Most health clubs also have policies regarding re-racking weights and dropping weights and dumbbells on the floor. Not only does it keep the gym cleaner, but it also ensures the safety of other members.
Many gyms will let you freeze or put your membership on hold for medical or maternity leave. Some health clubs refund your remaining membership if you move more than 25 miles away. Most states also have laws that allow you to cancel within three days of joining and get a full refund.
Compare Health Clubs before You Buy
Unless you fall in love with the first health club you visit, you should always visit a few and compare what they have to offer. Very rarely will you find a health club that has absolutely everything you’re looking for, but sometimes you might! Most of the higher-end health clubs will have just about everything you could possibly want in a health club. That’s why they charge a higher price for membership. If you’re going to utilize all the health club has to offer, then the higher membership fees will be justifiable. At the very least, make a mental note of everything you see when you take your tours of various health clubs. It all comes down to deciding which health club is going to be the best fit for your fitness regimen.
Questions to Ask about the Health Club’s Membership When Choosing a Gym
Once you’ve done your homework and decide on a health club, it’s time to join! Here are a few questions you should ask as you’re going through the membership process:
- What is your monthly membership fee? What does it cover?
- How often do rates increase and by how much?
- Is there an initiation fee?
- Are there hidden costs?
- Does the club have a month-to-month contract? Some clubs no longer offer yearly contracts. Instead, more clubs now offer monthly contracts to attract more members.
- How long has the health club been in business?
- Which programs and services cost extra? For instance, some clubs charge more for popular classes like yoga and pilates.
- Can you use your health club membership at other health clubs? Certain health club memberships allow you to use different clubs in the area or when you travel.
- What is the refund or cancellation policy, if any? Find out how you can get out of the contract if you get sick or injured, need to move, or just don’t like the facility.
- Is the health club offering any special promotions? Health clubs often offer promotional discounts to attract new members. You may be able to sign up without paying a registration or initiation fee or get the first few months of your membership for free. If there will be a promotion in the future, you might be able to get the club to offer it to you in advance. If not, you might want to hold out until the promotion begins.
Find the Best Health Club for You
Don’t feel pressured to sign a contract right away. Take your time and try a variety of health clubs, review them carefully, and ask questions if anything is unclear. The trick is to find a health club that fits your needs and makes you look forward to your workouts every week.