What Makes A Good Gym? Things To Consider When Joining A Gym

You can't miss the many advertisements for gyms and fitness centres found everywhere. But what makes a good gym and what should you look for when joining a gym. Some gyms are considered to be "high-end" with the latest equipment, sparkling facilities and highly trained specialists...and some are "old school", a bit stinky, with outdated equipment and trainers straight out of the first Rocky movie!

 

You quit your old gym because you never made it there? That fantastic exercise DVD bought from TV commercial is just not enough to motivate you to train? Make a conscious choice for a fitness center that will make you want to move!

So What Makes A Good Gym?

There are several things to look out for when choosing a new gym or sports school. Perhaps surprising to many, choosing the best gym for you involves much effort, research and...money. You can of course sign up to the first place you find, but we strongly advise that you first do your “homework” before signing a contract for hundreds of euros per year.

Some Things To Consider When Joining A Gym:

Price

There are many factors you should consider when choosing a place you will be working on your body. First of all, most gyms these days will ask you to sign a contract / subscription. Prices will start from €20 per month (cheaper gyms, not in centre of town, or half memberships for people training on weekdays during certain hours, or special offers for students) and go up to around €100 per month. These amounts do not sound scary at first, but you must have in mind that you will be paying your monthly fee for months or even years. It is very important to read your contract very well before signing, or else you will put yourself in a bad position of having to pay hundreds of euros to quit.

Location

Especially for those that have to force themselves to get to the gym, make sure that you chose a place close to home, or at least on the way back from work. If you are having a lazy day - anything will become a good excuse to skip a training! After all, all of us have days where even a slight bit of rain stops us from our exercise routine.

Especially if you are a women, pick a gym in a safe area, so you do not feel uncomfortable returning home on a dark winter evening. If there is no gym in the area where you live, make sure that the place you chose has a parking, where you can leave your car - included in the membership!

Goal

Make sure you set yourself a goal. What do you want to achieve by signing up to a gym? Do you want to lose weight? Stay fit? Build up a little body? Or perhaps rehabilitate your body after a treatment or broken leg? Make sure that you are clear about your goal. If you enjoy group activities the most, make sure that they offer a wide selection of classes (aerobics, step, yoga, stretching, boxing - the possibilities are almost countless). If you are more an individual and prefer cardio machines or weight lifting, make sure that the gym has all the equipment you desire to use. If they are lacking any of your favorites, make a point out of it!

Set yourself a clear goal as far as the frequency of your visits. Setting a goal of exercising 7 days a week may be a bit over the top. Even with the best intentions, it is very likely that you will not make it to the gym so often. Besides, your body needs time to regenerate too! You may decide that you want to, or have time only to train once a week. Calculate how much that visit will cost you before you decide.

Equipment

The variety, condition, age and quality of a gym’s equipment is very important. You should be looking for a gym that offers the most professional and newest training equipment. Make sure that they have multiple pieces of each machine. Some equipment is much more popular than others, which can result in a waiting time for your favourite machine. You don’t want to wait 20 minutes for the machine you like - especially if you came in for 45 minutes. 

It is always a bonus if the equipment has a connection to the gym’s TV’s or radio. You can always use your own iPod or CD player, but for some it is great to watch their favorite show on TV while they train. You can kill two birds with one stone, or get to watch something your spouse hates to watch! Many chain gyms offer flat screen TV’s and cable...bonus!

Hygiene

A gym is a place where large amounts of different people come to exercise. This also means that a gym is a place where all sorts of bacteria are brought together. Perhaps we mustn’t exaggerate, but imagine how many bacteria would be left on a piece of equipment if it was not cleaned regularly. There is also a serious danger that you can leave the gym with someone else’s...flu. Choose a gym that sets hygiene as one of its priorities. It is important that the club politely encourages their members to wipe the machines after using, and of course provides the necessary products to do so. Even if you are paying lots of money per month, it would be unreasonable to expect the gym’s staff to clean after each person is done with a machine. Remember to always use a towel when stretching on a mat or sitting on a saddle. This is common courtesy. Doesn’t everybody want to start training on a nice and clean piece of equipment? It is hardly pleasant to begin training on something that still has a sweat mark left by somebody else’s body!

The changing rooms and showers should be regularly cleaned by the staff and be squeaky clean! In addition, the club should encourage its members to always use shower shoes, as well as changing their outdoor shoes to special gym shoes. Going to the shower barefoot is usually asking for trouble! You wouldn’t want to leave with someone else’s...skin problem.

Atmosphere

Make sure that you feel good in the club of your choice. You want the staff to be nice, friendly and helpful. There should always be someone to explain how the equipment works. Some clubs also have personal trainers, or even offer a free instruction hour where they can help you plan the best training for you. Your fitness instructor must make sure that you are exercising your body, and not hurting yourself. If you are at a class for the first time, make sure that you go to the instructor and introduce yourself to him / her. Explain that you are new, and they will make sure you are taken care of and comfortable. Don’t be shy! There are many people exercising for the first time. Try to make contact with other people and who knows, you may gain a friend to exercise with! Make sure that your future gym is safe and comfortable for you. You will be paying considerable amounts of money, so make sure that you get what you expect, in a friendly way!

Getting Caught

Some gyms have “open days”, during which you can visit the club and be shown around. The way it works is that you will be asked to fill in a small form upon entering, including your name. After being shown around the club, you may receive an offer of not paying any sign-up cost, in return for signing a membership contract “on the spot”. Have this in mind, because, as attractive as this offer may be - you will not have a chance to explore their competitors. To make it worse, you have already filled in your name, and possibly will not receive the same day if you return another day. Because of the costs, and all other reasons mentioned above, it is sensible to do your research before paying a visit to the gym of your choice. Be smart - be prepared!

 

Are there any other important factors we did not mention above? What is important to you when selecting a gym or sports center?