Deciding on a gym: tips for choosing

Joining one of the many fitness centers in your area can have many benefits, but it can also be costly. Since most centers ask you to sign contracts that can be difficult to cancel, make sure that joining a gym is for you and that you are happy with the one you choose, before signing on the dotted line.

Decide on your needs

Since you are reading this, I suppose you would be more interested in weight training than aerobics, swimming, and other things. Now those are important, but some people don’t care if a pool is available. You may not be concerned with the number of aerobics classes that are taught each day.

All you want to do is train with weights. So choosing a gym that has a wide variety of exercise equipment is a good idea for you. Now if you are still unsure, you should look for a place that has a variety of exercise programs and equipment. Perhaps once you start, you can decide what your specific needs are.

Shopping around

There are many fitness centers, too many to review individually. But keep in mind that not all are the same. If you want to join, make sure you find a club that suits you. Do your homework and shop around – it will definitely be to your advantage. This is what to look for:

* Make sure it is convenient for work and / or home. If not, you will not go.

* Request a free or guest pass to test the installation.

* Ask about the qualifications of the staff. Unless you already know what you are doing, you want to work with professionals.

* Visit your options during the hours you are most likely to exercise and check for crowded conditions.

* Check the cleanliness of exercise areas, as well as locker rooms and bathrooms. Make sure exercise equipment appears to be in good condition.

* Ask about office hours and class times to make sure they fit your needs.

* See if there is childcare available on site.

* Talk to other members and see if they like it.

Joining a gym can be a major expense, so use these tips to avoid financial surprises and get the most for your money.

* Before you buy, determine how much you are willing to spend. Do not exceed this amount. Exercising shouldn’t break the bank.

* Find out exactly what is included in the monthly fee and what is considered “extra”. Make sure you get a price list of the services.

* Skip the low-cost “trial memberships”. You will likely be pressured later to continue paying a higher rate. Don’t join until you’re ready to commit and pay only what you’re willing to pay.

* See if you are eligible for discounts through your employer or health insurance company.

* Fully understand all refund and cancellation policies before signing a contract.

* Review the contract at home, without pressure from a salesperson. Ask questions and make sure you understand what you are signing.

The benefits of joining

Gyms allow you to access equipment that you cannot buy or have no space at home. Many also offer a variety of classes led by trained professionals, adding to the variety of exercise options available. You also have access to fitness professionals who can provide guidance and help you develop a personalized weight training program.

For those who HATE spending money, joining a gym can be a good motivator, feeling compelled to go to get their money’s worth (this is true only for those who really strive to get their money’s worth, no matter what are spending it). Those who would simply be interrupted constantly trying to exercise at home may find that getting out of the house to exercise is the only way to do it.

Alternatives to gyms

Remember, large gym chains are not the only way to go. Some employers, as well as local hospitals or wellness centers, have fitness facilities.

Also, make sure this is the best value for you. An investment of a few hundred dollars in exercise equipment that you can use at home will still give you great fitness results. Or you can join a fitness class through your local YMCA or community center, where membership is not required.

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