February 16, 2011

Trainer Tip: How to pick a gym

by Staff, Douglas County Health Department

Joseph O’Meara

This is the time of year many people think about joining a gym in order to get in shape.

There are many health club options, so you want to make sure you pick the right place that will help you accomplish your fitness goals.  One of the keys to starting and maintaining an exercise routine is to remove as many barriers as possible to getting to the gym.

Here are some quick tips that can help you get the most out of the selection process and ensure you get to the gym with enough regularity to see a real impact on your health.

1.    Location:  Make sure your gym is located close enough to your home and office so that you will not have to drive very far out of the way to get to your workout. Getting to the gym can on some days be hard enough on its own, but if it is out of the way, there is an easy reason not to go.

2.    Hours:  Make sure the gym’s hours meet your schedule needs. Again, the key is to remove potential barriers to getting to the gym. For example, if you bring your gym bag with the intent of going after work, but your work day runs long, you don’t want to have to put off the workout because the gym closed before you could get there.

3.    Working, Plentiful Equipment: Select a gym that has an adequate supply of up-to-date equipment that is properly maintained. There is no sense paying for a membership if you encounter ‘out of order’ signs or full treadmills every time you visit.

4.    Cleanliness:  On your tour, carefully look over the facility to see how clean it is kept. Ask to be shown the shower and sink areas, sauna, steam room, and bathrooms. Watch for trash on the floors, discarded towels that have not been picked up, or unidentifiable growths on the tile and flooring. You can tell a lot about the management of the gym by how clean it is kept.

5.    Don’t Buy Long Term Contracts:  In this day and age, it is ridiculous for gym operators to demand lengthy contract terms. Select the gym with the most flexibility in terms of your contract. If the gym is not the right fit, you move, or some other circumstance prevents you from using it, you don’t want to have your hands tied to a lengthy payment schedule. Most gyms will offer a month to month option, and if they don’t, ask them to give you that option. It never hurts to ask for what you want. Also make sure to read the contract carefully before signing, noting the cancellation policy, joining fees, or rate increase notices.

6.    Get a Pass:  Before signing on the dotted line, ask for a week pass to the gym and go every day. This will allow you to discover if the gym is really a good fit or to take a class and see if other amenities meet your needs.

7.    Get Referrals:  Ask friends, co-workers, or anyone else you interact with if they either belong to the gym or know anything about it.  Check online. Sometimes there will be reviews of local businesses that can help you make a decision.

8.    Stuff for Kids:  If you have children and intend to use gym-provided childcare, ask about the protocols for the child care center. Do they do background checks? Are parents called if there is a problem? What security measures are in place? What is the child/adult ratio? What specific programs are available? Is the child center and clean and well-maintained? If your whole family intends to use the gym, don’t forget about the kids!

Active Living


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