So many people join gyms thinking they are all pretty much the same or not really paying attention to some of the amenities they offer or things they should consider before choosing one.
So listed below are things that you should keep in mind:
- Hours of operation, the longer the better because your work/life schedule can change.
- Contract or no contract? I prefer no contract where you go month to month and cancel at any time.
- Price? Payment plan? Discounts? Never be afraid to negotiate, I have never seen a gym that will not, even the big chain gyms.
- Do they provide discounts if other family members join too?
- Equipment? What will you be doing, more free weights or do you prefer machines? Check it out to see if it fits your training needs.
- Are dumb bells in good working order? None are broken or loose?
- Does each station have enough weights next to them? Do they use weight trees to keep the weights orderly?
- Are there enough barbells to bench and racks? I have been in gyms where it is rotating barbells since they had less than what they had benches. Real aggravating especially when it gets busy.
- Do they cable machines move smoothly? Without adding weights, just pull or push on them to see how they move. Good indication of their maintenance.
- Do the cables and belts on the machines look worn or that they are maintained?
- Treadmills belts, are they worn or maintained? Even if you do not use a treadmill it is a good visible indicator of how they run their gym.
- Cardio, what kind do you like, bikes, Stairmaster, treadmills, rowers? Do they have a variety so you don’t get bored?
- Personal training services, is it provided? What does it cost? Do they throw in a few freebie sessions with memberships?
- Locker rooms. Are they clean and maintained? Are the lockers big enough or do you feel like you are back in high school? Are the showers clean? Does it have a sauna or steam room of that is what you are looking for.
- Are towels provided to work out? A very nice feature.
- After the person giving the gym tour finishes, ask if you can walk around on your own to check out the equipment.
- Check for equipment that is out of service. Does it have a note indicating when it went out of service? Good indication of how quickly they repair it. Lots of equipment out of service or equipment in very bad condition can be an indicator of a gym with financial issues.
- Is the gym orderly or does it look like a bomb exploded and threw weights all over the place?
- Do the bench covers look worn and old or do they look like they are replaced on a regular basis?
- How is the cleanliness of the gym overall?
- Talk to some of the members, don’t be afraid, most will talk openly. Ask them how they like the gym, what they don’t like about it.
- What’s the crowd look like? Always visit a gym around the time you would normally work out. Atmosphere is a big factor in gym motivation. Is it the type of crowd you want to be around with the time that you will be training?
- Are the mirrors clean? Mirrors are everywhere in a gym for many reasons. One way of seeing if they have a good maintenance program is to see if the mirrors are clean or are they dirty. The same goes with dust on the dumbbell racks. Indication they do or don’t do a good job.
- Is the gym close to work or home or in between? In other words, is it convenient for your life and work schedule?
- How long have they been around? Good indicator of stability.
- If group classes is your interest, are spin and group aerobic classes offered? What kind of variety do they have? What is their class schedule and does it fit your personal needs?
- Parking, is it adequate. I have belonged to gyms that were really nice but were located in shopping centers that were busy and almost impossible to find a parking space meaning you had to park alongside the street.
- Is there adequate lighting in the parking lot especially if you train at night or dusk. Safety is important, many thieves love gyms because they know the person that just left their car is almost guaranteed to be away for an hour at least.
- Do they have a juice and snack bar? Very convenient if you forget to bring it with you at the gym or to catch a quick protein smoothie after training. Just a nice feature to have.
- Do they sell supplements? Not necessary to make or break a gym but I have been in some where they provide members a nice discount for supplements and since most hard core members take one type of supplement or another, it can save you a few extra bucks a month.
- Additional apparatus available for members to use? Always nice to change your workouts. I like to see if the gym has jump ropes, kettle bells, medicine balls, suspension bands, TRX that you can use.
- Is there an area in the gym where you can perform stretching, meditation, floor exercises? Usually area should be nicely matted or provide mats to perform those exercises.
So I hope this list helps you in what to look for when you go shopping for a gym. The key is convenience and variety for you and gym owner commitment to running a good quality gym for their members.