EDGE Magazine Story: 5 Rules When Picking Out a Gym
My latest story as Health and Fitness columnist for EDGE Magazine.
Five Rules When PICKING Out a Gym
So you’re finally ready to start working out. Or maybe it’s time to move to a gym that is more suited to your personal style. You’ve logged on and done a search for the gym of your dreams and you’ve looked at the websites. Now it is time to go on a tour of the training facilities available to you. What are you going to look for during this process? What will help you decide where you’re going to spend your hard earned money and hard to find free time?
- Location Location Location. People are more likely to go to the gym if it is easy to get there. Pick a gym that is near your home so that you can go first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. Investigate places that are on your way to work so you can stop by in transit to and from the job. If you have to drive a long distance or spend a lot of time on public transportation just to get your training facility, chances are you will miss more workouts during the week. So before you sign on the dotted line, ask yourself: will you go?
- Stock Up. Does the gym you choose have the equipment you will use? Will it meet your needs? Will you use the unique amenities or are you paying for something you won’t use? There are those who need very few amenities, requiring little more than a basement with some free weights and a locker room. Others are more interested in the steam room, the pool, the Jacuzzi, towel service, tanning bed and juice bar (Equinox is well admired for their amenities). Many have stopped weight training in favor of TRX and balance work. Some are more comfortable if there is a circuit that the gym has created for you, one that you can walk in the door, follow the instructions and walk out 40 minutes later (Planet Fitness has such a circuit). Maybe you need a gym that has a lot of equipment so you don’t have wait for a machine, ever (LA Fitness is one of those gyms – lots of machines, little waiting). If you like to do yoga, you may want to make sure that there is, in fact, a quiet space with mats where you can do this; it is pretty uncomfortable having to do yoga in a corner that you stake out next to the squat racks. Check to see if there is a runners’ track or a racquetball room. Maybe the gym has a massage therapist. Ask about every service and every amenity. I’ve even been in gyms that have a DJ.
- Put On a Happy Face. Does the gym fit a demographic you will be comfortable around? There are lifter gyms and there are housewife gyms. There are boutique gyms and there are college gyms. Be certain that when you walk in the door you will not feel out of place, something that might cause you to skip going to the gym. Many of my clients tell me they are reluctant to go to the gym because the people there are intimidating; they are afraid of being judged. I believe that, when people see you at the gym the only thing that they will think about you is that it is great you are there. We’re all there to make ourselves healthier and they will respect that. However, if you don’t feel comfortable enough around the jocks, the kids, the homemakers, the businessmen, whoever it is you are working out alongside, the truth is, you won’t want to go. Now you just wasted all that money on a membership that you aren’t using.
- Cleanliness is Next to Godliness. When you go to check out the gym, go just after a peak hour and see if the place is tidy or if the lunch crowd or evening rush made more mess than the staff can keep up with. There are few things as disheartening as working out in a gym where nobody puts the weights back so that you have to go on an Easter Egg hunt just to do your training. Also unpleasant is walking into a locker room where towels are constantly strung out on the floor, the benches, the countertops and shower curtain rods. And take a good deep breath. If it smells when you are doing your walk through, you can bet the facility is not getting a good scrub down at regular intervals during the day. Some gyms are nice enough to leave sanitary wipe containers throughout the gym so people can wipe down the equipment after using it (not all of them but it has become the norm) – look into that.
- The Devil’s in the Details. Know what you’re signing up for. Know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line. Ask questions. Read fine print. Make sure that you understand all the loop holes in the contract. Sales people can talk really fast, sometimes faster than we can listen. Don’t let them. Tell them to slow their roll and then ask questions as they come up – don’t save them for later. Take notes. Ask them to explain it again. Don’t let them hit you with extra charges later. Know what day of the month their direct withdrawal is going to hit your bank account. Keep a record of the start and end date of your contract. Before you sign a piece of paper and give them your routing number, know that your bank account will be protected from additional charges and potential late fees when they dip into your account just after you’ve paid the mortgage and electricity bill. Your ability to enjoy the gym where you spend two hours a day, six days a week will be greatly affected if their management style causes you undue stress.
Now you’ve chosen your gym. It’s YOUR gym. It is where you will be spending a lot of time; and you want that time to be happy. So get some headphones for your treadmill time or a workout buddy for your hour of lifting; or go to the gym alone and make new friends.
Go to the gym, be healthier, be happier and have a good time.