Getting a gym membership is a big commitment. It might not be a lot of money per month but over the course of a year it adds up, and a gym membership is really about making a commitment to your health.
But the wrong gym can make this commitment overly complicated or even turn you off of exercising forever.
You can ensure a positive gym experience by making sure your gym fits all—or at least most—of the criteria below:
You might think the best workout center is the one that upgrades its equipment every year, but in reality the best gym is usually the most convenient gym. As much as we hate to admit it, most of us struggle getting ourselves to the gym at least some of the time.
You shouldn’t make it harder for yourself by choosing a gym far out of your way.
If there’s a gym a short drive away from your house or office, you probably want to stick with that gym unless it’s a truly unpleasant atmosphere or the gym fails to meet several of the other criteria on this list.
Crowd during your workout hours
Stop by the workout center at the time of day when you usually would be working out. Is there plenty of equipment available or are almost all the machines full? Are there dumbbells available? Are you comfortable with the amount of people in the space?
A crowded gym can make it all but impossible to get a proper workout.
If the gym you check out excels in several other ways but is packed during your usual workout hours, consider whether or not you can move your workout time to a time that will be less crowded there.
Equipment quality and variety
A high quality gym should have high quality equipment that is well maintained and replaced when it starts to wear out. Faulty equipment can cause serious injuries and should be avoided at all costs.
If your local gym has dumbbells that are falling apart or unstable benches you should seriously consider going somewhere else.
Your gym should also offer a wide range of equipment including elliptical machines, treadmills, and stationary bikes as well as a variety of dumbbells and barbells. There should be several benches and exercise balls.
A good gym will also have a large padded area for stretching and core-specific workouts.
Many people think this is the most important factor when purchasing a gym membership, but unless money’s really tight and you have to choose the cheapest option, price shouldn’t be your first concern.
No amount of financial commitment will make you go to a gym you hate or feel unsafe working out in, but you should be willing to pay good money for a high quality gym.
In the end the most important thing here should be value. If you’re spending a lot for your gym membership, make sure you’re paying for access to the highest quality equipment and a pleasant workout environment.
It might sound like a strange criteria, but if your mood is strongly affected by the people around you this is important to think about. Will being around people who are clearly pushing themselves to the limit motivate you to work out harder?
Will being surrounded by fit people inspire you to get fit? Would a gym full of skinny bodies make you want to give up and go home?
Being around the right people can make all the difference when you’re trying to set up a regular workout routine. Luckily for you there are gyms devoted to all kinds of people: corporate people, women, overweight people and more.
No matter what kind of people you like, you can probably find a gym devoted to them if you live in a big city.
The best gyms will have everything organized in an orderly fashion and ideally all on the same floor so you can hop from one kind of exercise to the next.
Exercise machines of all types should be together in one area, barbells and dumbbells in another area, and both should be separated from the stretching/core exercise area.
While this layout will make your workout smoother, an inconvenient layout isn’t a big enough issue to cross a gym off your list for, especially if it meets most or all of the other criteria on your list.
A dirty gym might not bother some people, but you should definitely avoid any gyms with visibly sweat-stained benches and machines or dust covered dumbbells.
If you drop your towel and it comes away black, that’s probably a good sign to run. Working out won’t make you any healthier if you’re consistently catching other people’s sickness from dirty machines.
All gym equipment should be cleaned at least once a day and the floors should be washed on a daily basis, but what’s really important is whether or not you can see the dirt. If it’s dirty enough to bother you, you probably won’t show up anyway, so you should consider another gym instead.
If you regularly use the locker room and/or showers at your gym you’ll want to pay close attention to the locker room. Make sure lockers are big enough for everything you bring with you to the gym and properly secure as well as clean.
Showers should also be clean and well maintained. If you always shower at the gym you should check these out before purchasing a membership.
Of course, there are many other criteria to consider when choosing a gym including friendliness of staff, hours of operation and available classes.
What’s truly important is that you decide what you want most out of a gym and make sure the gym you choose fits your criteria. Most gyms have a drop in option, so test it out before you make the commitment.
You’ll be glad you did!
Thank you for reading my article! I am Holly Nunan, a mother of three daughters ages four, six and eight. I love writing about exercise and fitness, raising healthy children and natural and alternative remedies. If you are looking for easy and natural ways to improve your daily life, check out EveryHomeRemedy.com!