Gym-Gym Hooray: How To Choose The Right Gym For You
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
As your future begins to take shape, you want to make sure your body does also. You’ve got your heart set on a beach ready body, but before you can hit the sand and surf, you’ve got to hit the gym. But which one is right for you. Aren’t they all the same? Perhaps to a certain degree, but, just like your favorite supermarket, mall, etc., getting fit often means finding a gym that has the right fit for you.
Beyond The Barrage Of Sales Personnel: You already know what they facility can offer in the way of equipment, classes, hours of operation, etc., but do you know what their philosophy is (besides making money). If you want to use the gym as sort of a social club to mix and mingle, or perhaps meet Mr. or Ms. Right (if you haven’t yet) then, their personal interest in your well being and goal accomplishment may not be of much interest. If however, you’re serious about getting in or staying in shape, you may want to seek out a facility with a genuine concern for the (health and fitness) industry they represent. Trust your gut. If it seems the sales person is rushing you or simply interested in getting you to sign on the dotted line, you may want to check out a few more places and buy yourself some (decision-making) time. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask questions, and hold off on making a decision until you feel comfortable with the facility and its terms.
Beyond The Weights And Machinery: Besides the equipment, classes and programs it has to offer, one of the most “appealing” aspects of a work out facility is its atmosphere. Not too long ago, I had found myself a member of a conveniently located, reasonably priced gym close to home. Not too small, not too big, it was “just right”….well, except for those avid enthusiasts who found it essential to bellow in agony each time they lifted a weight. I personally found it to be extremely distracting and un-necessary and found myself wondering what happened to the professionals who could quietly engage themselves in a book while riding the stationary bike or who could quietly enjoy the evening news while jogging on the tread mill? Shaping up had me mentally all bent out of shape. So, while some may enjoy the crowds and the intense atmosphere, others may prefer a more low key, intimate environment, while still others may feel most at ease working out with members of their own sex only. These are all things you should consider before even given a facility serious consideration. Visit a few times and at different times of the day to see the level of activity and the types of clientele it attracts.
Above And Beyond: If you’re not the type to spend hours doing circuit training, or get easily board with what even the most high tech machines have to offer, you may want to look into facilities that either offer or specialize in more “riveting” activities such as tennis, basketball, handball, badminton, etc. Or, you many simply want to enroll in a facility that concentrates on one or two specialty workout programs such as yoga and/or Pilates to get yourself in shape.
Beyond YOUR Strengths And Determination: We’re all inclined to get “bored” (with our get in or stay in shape routine) or plateau in our progress. It’s therefore probably a good idea to make sure the gym you sign up for has a personal trainer on staff. It’s also a good idea to find out how much his/her services cost (additional) or if his/her fee is included in membership. If you opt for a trainer, you should make sure he/she has a degree in exercise science or a closely related field or discipline. It is also probably best, especially if you have health issues, that your trainer has ample experience and is, at least, certified and accredited by the appropriate organization and/or field of professionals within his/her specialty or field.
Beyond Availability: What’s accessible is just as important as what’s available. According to the professionals, many gyms may offer what you want, but you may not be able to use it during your peak workout time. Remember, YOU are not the only member, nor are you the only person interested in a particular class or machine. Classes my be full to capacity by the time you get there, and machines may be hard to come by during peak hours.
Experts advise checking out the facilities during different times of the day to get a better sense of what you can expect. They also note that you should note the proximity of the gym from your home. Perhaps it’s close to work, and that’s great if you plan on working out during lunch, but will you feel as eager to “hang around” after a long day of work.Make sure it’s within a comfortable distance so that you can stick to your routine without much traveling or effort.
Beyond Your Financial Limits: Many times the amenities you want can be costly, and you may not be able to afford them. Keep in mind however that prices vary from gym to gym and often times from location to location.
When making your final decision, while you don’t want to compromise on quality for cost, you also want the best value for your dollar. Take into account the following considerations. Does the facility meet your wants and needs? Does it offer additional amenities such as a locker room, shower, and/or childcare? Are there any “additional” charges such as initiation or activations fees (which are frequently negotiable)? Especially if you are a beginner or new to a (particular) gym, make sure they offer some kind of “incentive” such as a few free personal training sessions, a special “introductory” rate.
Also, once you sign up, make sure you fully understand what you are committing to. Many contracts that are part of a “promotional package” lock you into certain terms and conditions, which are often “tricky” to get out of, even if the facility fails to live up to its reputation and expectations. Consider instead perhaps paying a bit more for a month-to-month contract that leaves many more options open.
You may also want to inquire about a (free) trial period, about the ability to use other facilities, either locally or nationwide, and the club’s policy on freezing your membership (and therefore associated charges that would otherwise incur) when you are away on business or vacation.
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