When a person decides to make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, that decision is often accompanied by the decision to join a gym. Gyms can vary greatly. Some cater to specific activities, such as kick boxing or martial arts, while others are more general in scope, with weight training and cardiovascular equipment and access to personal trainers.
Regardless of which type of facility an individual is hoping to join, certain external factors go a long way to dictating whether or not joining the gym will be a success. When looking for an exercise facility, the following items should be taken into consideration before signing an agreement.
• Location: Even the most ardent of gym rats would say it helps a great deal to find a gym that's conveniently located. If the gym is too far away or getting there requires sitting in heavy traffic, then men and women are much less likely to visit the gym as they would be to visit a gym that's right down the street or easy to get to.
When looking for an exercise facility, find one that's either close to home or close to the office (preferably both if you work close to home). For those who work far away from home, the gym's location should ideally be closer to home to promote working out on weekends when you won't be anywhere near the office.
• Fellow members: Certain gyms might prove intimidating or uncomfortable because of their existing members. While the members themselves might be warm and friendly, those new to working out might be intimidated if everyone else in the building looks like a professional bodybuilder. In addition, women sometimes feel more comfortable working out at an all-female gym.
• Cost: The cost of gym membership is arguably the foremost consideration for many people when choosing a gym, especially since the economy remains largely unpredictable. When looking for an exercise facility, inquire about membership costs as well as any initiation fees you may incur or discounts you may be eligible for. Because of the struggling economy, many gyms have waived or are open to waiving sign-up or initiation costs, which can cost in the hundreds of dollars at some facilities.
Also, when discussing cost with a facility employee, ask if there are family discounts or if memberships are reduced if fees are paid all at once instead of every month. For example, a gym might charge $600 annually ($50 per month), but give a 10 percent discount to any members who pay a year's worth of dues at sign-up. When discussing membership costs, keep in mind many gyms are open to negotiation, but prospective members must initiate any such negotiations.
• Membership rights: Many gyms boast different types of memberships. Some memberships are all-access and allow members to use the weight room, sauna, pool, etc. Other memberships might cost less but not offer as much access. For instance, a basic membership might offer access to the weight room and cardiovascular machines, but not to the pool or sauna. Choosing the right membership depends on the individual. For those who don't swim and won't enjoy a post-workout steam, then the basic membership can save money while still meeting all of the desired needs. For those who want all-access, the more expensive membership might be more up your alley. Whichever membership is the better fit, be sure the membership agreement lists your rights as a member before signing any paperwork.
• Hours of operation: Some people prefer to workout before going to work, while others want to sleep in and exercise after a day at the office. Individuals should find a gym that fits their schedules and workout preferences. It's also good to inquire about holiday hours of operation. A good gym won't shut down entirely during a holiday, and instead stay open on at least a limited schedule.
• Equipment: Even those new to working out should be able to tell if equipment is up-to-date or outdated. A gym with outdated equipment is best to avoid, as older equipment could increase risk of injury. A gym with the latest equipment is a gym that likely emphasizes giving its members the best possible environment in which to workout, and that's important for all fitness enthusiasts, but especially those who are just beginning.