Choosing a gym is not always easy. Follow these guidelines to make the best choice according to your needs and expectations.
On my blog The Gym Life, I suggested activities you can do at the gym. Today, I want to share some tips on how to choose one particular gym to get enrolled. These are some of the aspects I take into consideration when picking a place to train.
It is true that part of how tidy a gym is has to do with its visitors. I used to be a member of one that frequently looked messy in spite of the endless efforts of the crew. It was not rare that I did not have a place to put on my feet.
This however has nothing to do with cleanliness. Clean toilets and showers, for instance, are important points to me. Even if I prefer washing myself at home, I want to be able to do it at the gym if necessary, without unpleasant surprises.
So, yes, a place free from dirt is mandatory when picking a gym. If the place looks like it has never been cleaned, I leave it right away.
I am not after the fanciest machines on the market. In fact, I prefer old-school ones most of the time. It is all a matter of how good they have been taken care. If I can do my workouts, I am fine. Still there is a minimum amount of equipment one must have to train properly when strength training is your thing.
I still do not lift really heavy (my heaviest is not an absolute heavy yet), so the dumbbells available at the gyms I go to are fine. However, without a leg press, leg extension, assisted, leg curls and a Smith machine, one’s options are way too limited.
Besides, you also need room to move around safely. If the benches are so close to each that two people cannot bench press at the same time, it is a no-no to me.
Classes and other sports
Depending on your fitness goals, you may want to incorporate other activities to your training in addition to strength training. Do they offer your favorite classes at the gym? Can you also practice some MMA, CrossFit or yoga, for example?
Variation is always a good thing. I myself love to run and I am planning my comeback to the swimming pool and bike. For my favorite extra activities, I do not really need a gym (a gym with a pool where I live is an utopia). But before, I loved Les Mills Body Combat. A gym with only spinning lessons is not for me.
Even if you have only one sport in mind, it does not hurt to ask for all the options available. Just in case…
It is not so common in Belgium, but some gyms have a sort of baby-care area where kids can play around while their parents are training. Others rent DVDs, have sauna, tanning bed etc. If you regularly make use of such services, it might be interesting to compare the prices.
Chances are, if you find a school that combines one or more of these options together, you can save yourself some bucks. Even if the enrollment is a little bit higher than normal, you will be getting a good deal as a whole.
Included in the price
Talking about extras however… What if you are absolutely sure you will not need or use any of them, but they are all included in the price?
I am not a major fan of classes so chances are, I am never attending any of them. Or simply, the ones I would like to attend do not take place at a time I am free. So if such fees are included in the price, I will be paying for much more than what I will be using. The same goes for stuff such as sauna, bar or childcare.
If you can choose to pay only for the services you will be using, great! If not, maybe it is wiser to look for another gym and save your money for something else.
In other words, to me, the most important points one should have in mind when picking a gym are:
- Classes and other sports
- Included in the price
Women can sometimes feel uneasy when the environment is not welcoming, but I did not include it to my list for a reason. Of course if the place is not female friendly, if you are harassed or mistreated for whatever the reason and you do not feel safe there, get out of that place as fast as you can.
If the issue however is just that no one is putting a red carpet for you, try to put yourself in the place of others first before jumping into conclusions. Maybe they need time to get to know you. There are so many people who come and go. It is possible that other members want to figure out what you are up to before getting acquaintance with you.
Personally, I fall in the group of those who take time before saying ‘hello’ to a new member. I am a woman who goes to the gym alone and ‘disputes’ the machines with guys 2 or 3 times bigger than me. I am not there to socialize and my training is planned beforehand to be as productive as possible (more on my blog Planning Your Workouts). If I have to put on a grumpy face to avoid someone getting on my nerves, I will, no guilt.
So if someone is not jumping up and down for seeing you, it means nothing, believe me. Just go there, do your thing and have fun!
What are the factors that influence you when choosing a gym?
Have a great week!
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