How to Pick a Gym

Have you resolved to get fit in 2012? Do you tend to work out more faithfully if you are around other people and have access to fancy equipment? You may be in the market for a gym membership. Obviously, pricing, location, cleanliness, and friendliness are all big factors in your decision. Here are a few additional tips for picking a gym you can enjoy for more than a few months.

Evaluate Availability

While you don’t necessarily want to join a gym that resembles a ghost town, you do want to make sure it isn’t so crowded that you can’t get the type of workout you desire. January is still the busiest time of the year for gyms, so you may actually want to wait until February rolls around before you start touring local gyms. This gives you an idea of how packed the establishment really is – and how long you can expect to wait for your favorite machines on an average day. Schedule your visit for the time of day when you usually expect to be at the gym (such as during the 6 PM “after work” rush hour). That way, you won’t be surprised by how busy it is when you actually start attending regularly.

What’s the Focus?

Different gyms cater to different clientele. One might be geared toward serious body builders. Another might be targeting the luxury/spa crowd. You should be comfortable and feel that you blend in reasonably well. It’s unlikely that other gym members will actually try to make you feel unwelcome. But you may shy away from working out even if the perception of not fitting in is just in your head. The focus of the gym will also determine what types of equipment and amenities are available. If you want to make swimming your main form of full body exercise, you wouldn’t want a gym that invests most of its money in great spinning equipment and doesn’t keep its pool in fantastic condition.

Meet the Trainers

There’s no rule saying you have to hire a personal trainer or fitness instructor to help you work out. But you should at least try a few classes to get a feel for how the gym is run. Ask questions about how long the various employees have been associated with the gym and how things have changed over the years. Gyms that have established long term relationships with instructors and trainers are most likely to care about your experience as well. If there are far fewer specialty classes available now than there were a few years ago, this may be a sign that the gym is cutting costs even at the expense of customer satisfaction.

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