Life will often throw questions at you that’s a guarantee. Hopefully you’ll have friends, family and colleagues to help guide you make the right decisions. Be it which restaurant should you eat at, what you should wear, what time should you get there etc. Some answers though are more readily found, you can seek the advice of your trusted circle, read online reviews and advice, ask people who’ve actually been to the places you’re thinking of going. Then there’s the question of local gyms…
…Suddenly you either have insufficient information, or an abundance of useless facts that confuses rather than helps the decision making process. What’s worse is the local gyms themselves. They all want you to become a member, and therefore will compete for your custom. You’d think that would help you get a better deal, but not necessarily so.
Gyms are a business, they exist to make money for their owners. Their income is derived from their members, people who train there. Some of these people will pay as and when they train, whilst others will take out a full membership package – the cost of which can range from a little to a lot, even to a heck of a lot! Of these members, some will join, pay their monthly subscription and thereafter not attend – in other words, the gym are getting paid for nothing. The service is there, but it is not used. For gyms, these are the “golden” clients.
What makes people do this? The answer is simple – poor choice of gym. Make the wrong choice at the start and you will come to regret it. You may indeed become a “golden” member yourself. However, there is a way to avoid this scenario and this article aims to help you make the right choice. That way, if you do end up joining a gym, then you’ll likely make the right choice which will encourage you to keep going. Obviously this article cannot make you go, nor can it give you the motivation to hit the treadmill after a hard day at the office, but it can help. So, if you’ve decided to make a change in your lifestyle, if you are determined to become a healthier individual and train regularly, but you’re not sure exactly where to start, then read on for advice as to what to look for in a local gym.
Where To Start
Obviously it’s easy to find gyms local to you, just go online. But then you need to refine the search and actually consider your next steps carefully. You’d test out a restaurant by reading reviews certainly, but these are other people’s opinions whereas yours may differ. So the best way of course is to go and eat there. If you like it, make it a regular place to visit, but not the only place. Imagine if you only tried one, thought you liked it and always went there. Then one day you tried next door because it was busy and you loved it! All those wasted chances…
It’s the same with gyms, you need to visit, take the induction tour, avoid the hard sell of membership and take along a list of questions that matter to you. Preparing them in advance will mean that you do not forget some on the day. Also be sure to visit at the times and on the days you intend to train. Inductions often take place at quiet times for that exclusivity feel, but if you’re going to be training at 6.30 on a weeknight most of the time, then visit then. Make sure you see the gym as you’ll be using it, otherwise you may be in for a rude awakening.
One good way of getting a tour is to mention that you are interested in membership and would like a free day pass to try it out, at the very most you should only pay to train that day. Getting a feel for a place and the people always works better from the inside. If they refuse your request, ask yourself, “is this place really for me?”, and then go somewhere else. Trying somewhere once means getting a workout and great information to help you make that final decision.
Here are some other factors to help you decide:
Most people train either before or after work, so think do you want a gym closer to the office or home. If you train in the morning maybe pick the office, as most people would even rather train for an hour rather than get into work early and do an extra hour at their desk!
The idea though is accessibility. If you have to drive out of your way by 15 minutes or more the opportunity to let excuses for none attendance creep in will arise. Getting to the gym needs to become a habit and once it is it will be difficult to break, but giving yourself more reasons to talk yourself out of a session will weaken even the strongest of resolves. This is why location matters, and a local gym is key.
Some gyms are 24 hours. This isn’t because there are people who literally train all hours, but more to cater for shift workers. 24 hour gyms are great, but usually their membership fees are higher simply to accommodate this service. Unless you work shifts you may not need this and your decision should be solely based on what you need. Forget everybody else – including the gym owners. Decide when you’ll be training, add in a couple of possible times for extra sessions, and ensure that the gym can accommodate you. If they can’t, it’s not your gym.
This covers the staff and the other members. It’s true that you do not go to a gym to make friends at least that should not be the primary reason why you are working out. However, there is nothing wrong with using a friendly gym. Ask yourself do the staff help you or are they clock watching, are they knowledgeable and able to assist your training, maybe even give a little free personal training tips, or are they disinterested types just earning summer holiday money? This matters because you may need help at some points, for example when you plateau, or on how to avoid injuries.
Then there are the members. Are they social media types, taking photos of their training, rather than training? Do they intimidate you, or offer friendly help. You’ll always get all sorts in a gym so you have to accept that, but one of the other questions to ask is about their hygiene…
You train hard and you will sweat. But when you are working out the only sweat you should feel is your own. So think, are the machines and equipment clean, do other members respect the gym and do the staff take good care of it? You’ll see soon enough whether people towel down their stations after their sets, and whether the staff take an active interest in questions of hygiene. Once a day isn’t really enough as all that sweat and warmth creates a germ heaven. Illness stops training, so ensure that you choose a nice clean gym. That doesn’t mean be delicate though, some “spit and sawdust” places appear a little rough, but they can be the cleanest gyms when compared to the neon lit big chains simply because their staff care!
The gym will charge, accept this. But you need to know what you are actually paying for. Is it restricted times, or full access; do you have access to the classes, pool or personal trainers, or is this an expensive add on; how long is your contract and what about cancellation through injury etc. These are all important factors to consider before joining, so make sure you compare gyms for their fee structures and see what you are really getting for you money. It is also wise to look beyond initial deals – what happens when they expire? Your financial state of health matters too.
Decisions, decisions…you will have already made the decision to train, and so to support this make an informed decision as to where to do your training. Do not fall for promotions, instead look for value. Do your research, speak to members and visit as many gyms as you can. Having tried them all, and armed with the great information from this article, you’re sure to make a good decision in the end. Now, it’s time for you to decide.
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