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How to Choose a Gym

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Anastasia Didyk

When determining how to choose a gym, it is important to take into consideration the facilities and offerings. From equipment and hours of work to location and additional services, vibe and organization these can make (or break) your gym experience.

Here are ten factors to consider when choosing a gym compatible with your lifestyle and fitness goals.

Remember, you are investing your time, money, and energy into a gym, and you need to be certain that you’ve made the best choice for you and your training goals. You can make your decision in reliance on online reviews or recommendations from friends, and while that's a great starting point, there are a few more components to regard.


You know how and when you're going to get to the gym, so you need to decide if you need one a few minutes walk from your home or closer to your workplace. The more convenient you make it for yourself, the more often you will go there, getting more bang for your buck. Gym hours are closely related to location. If it doesn't work for your schedule, it won't work for you.


Many gyms are 24/7, but others are closed on Sundays or weekends. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Make sure that the gym’s schedule meshes with yours.


Are weights, exercise mats, and yoga balls scattered around the floor in random places? A disorderly gym can be dangerous, and it may also signify that the staff lacks management and respect. Is the facility clean? Be sure to check out the locker room and bathrooms to see how well they are maintained.


Some people prefer a giant fitness center where they can be anonymous; others like a smaller gym that feels more like a community. Are there enough machines to go around, or is every treadmill busy? If cardio machines have a sign-up sheet, will it bother you to have to wait in line to get in your workout? Does the gym feel crowded?


Some local gyms feature separate rooms for stretching, classes, or personal training sessions. What about a special area for females? Some women like having a separate room to work out in. Others feel that having a female-specific space in the gym makes it more awkward when they choose to exercise in the larger main area.


Feel free to ask what staff qualifications include or at the very least if there is a go-to person if you have general fitness questions. The staff aids in setting the tone of the gym.


Equipment is one of the main reasons someone joins a gym. Knowing what types of equipment you currently need along with what you’d potentially like to use in the future is vital. While on your tour, take note of what’s available, overall condition, and quantity of more popular pieces, such as squat racks, machines, and treadmills.


If you’re someone who needs instruction, you may be looking for a personal trainer or a class or two to throw into your workout mix. Locker rooms, showers, saunas, and such can be considered luxuries at some gyms. If any of these things make your must-have list, confirm their availability and cost (if any) before you sign on the dotted line.


This is obviously going to be an important factor for most people. Consider the monthly cost of membership, what the membership does or doesn’t include, and whether or not you must sign a contract. Is there a free or reduced price trial period? Make sure that you are comparing local gyms accurately. Protect your investment with an added level of accountability at a gym with a schedule that's as committed to you as you are to it.

10. VIBE

How does being at the gym make you feel? Welcomed or weary? Are people friendly and professional – or staring and awkward? Would you feel comfortable exercising here? Do you hear loud music, weight-lifting yells, or non-stop chattering? Some gyms are more high-energy, while others are chilled out – and the vibe can often vary throughout the day.

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