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How do I choose a gym?

Gyms can be expensive and under-used memberships are rarely refundable. So it's important to decide what gym features matter to you most. Before you put down money on a pricey gym membership, keep these points in mind and you'll know how to pick a gym that suits you.

  • Location, location, location. Location may be the most important factor when choosing a gym. At the end of the day the best gym for you is the one that you will go to, and you are more likely to go to one that is convenient. So explore gyms near your home or workplace, rather than places that may be hard to get to in bad weather or traffic. Ideally, you'll select a gym that you can walk or bike to.
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  • Price. You may not have the budget for the gym with the newest, up-to-the-minute equipment, but with a little ingenuity you can get just as thorough a workout with free weights and a few basic machines that you would get on a machine with a built-in TV and heart rate monitor.
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  • Hours. Do you like to work out in the morning, the evening or both? Look for a gym with hours that fit your schedule.
  • Personal Trainers. Research the quality and cost of the gym's personal trainers.
  • Classes. If you enjoy group fitness, it is very important that your gym offer challenging classes that are led by qualified instructors. Also find out how crowded the classes tend to be. Remember, a fantastic class is of little use if you can only sometimes participate.
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  • Staff. Do the staff members seem friendly and knowledgeable and willing to answer questions?
  • Bonuses. Some gyms offer one or more complimentary personal training sessions, fitness testing or even nutrition analysis when you sign up for a membership.
  • Extras. Do you need a shower, sauna or whirlpool? Are lockers free or do you need to rent them? What is the cell phone policy? Does the gym have child care?

The bottom line: You won't know until you ask, so don't hesitate to compare gyms and find the right fit for your fitness goals.


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