If you live in a city or town with several gym options, it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. I live in New York City where there are different gyms and studios on every block, so it took me five different gym memberships to finally find one that I absolutely love. Of course, you will want to choose a location that is convenient for you and one that is nice enough to spend several hours per week there. Most gyms offer a free trial, so it is important to try each one out before committing to a membership. I like to base my decision on the following factors and prioritize which ones are most important to me.
1. Location. I find it very important to go to a gym that is either close to my house or work. Otherwise, I will most likely be inclined to skip my workout if I have to travel out of my way. If your gym has several locations, you must decide if it is worth it to pay extra so that you have access to every location.
2. Price. I recommend deciding before joining a gym how much of your budget will go to a gym membership. If you think you do not have much to spend on a gym, try cutting a different expense from your monthly budget. Skip eating out for one or two nights and that could equal your monthly gym membership cost. It is up to you to decide what is most important and what you are willing to spend to be healthy.
3. Amenities. Figure out what equipment and features you would like your gym to have. If you are a swimmer, of course you will want to join a gym with a pool. If you prefer to shower at the gym, it will be important to join a gym with a clean locker room and enough showers for exercise “rush hour.” If you have kids, you may want to consider joining a gym with daycare. If you typically do the elliptical or treadmill, there must be enough machines for everyone. The first gym I joined when I moved to New York only had 5 ellipticals, and I was not willing to wait over 30 minutes to start my cardio.
4. Cleanliness. When I went on my initial gym hunt, I walked into a gym that reeked of body odor. I knew I would have no motivation to spend an hour of my day there. I look for sanitizing wipes that are available for members to clean the sweat off of their equipment after exercising. I like to see the locker rooms consistently being cleaned and fitness room floors being wiped down after class.
5. Group fitness options. For me, having a group fitness class schedule with convenient times and great classes is key when choosing my gym. I typically only go to the gym to take a group fitness class, so the times must work for my schedule, and the classes and instructors must be top notch. There must also be enough fitness classes to accommodate the amount of members in the gym. I belonged to a gym where I would sign up a day in advance for a spin class and still not get in. If I did get in to a kickboxing class, the studio was so crowded that I ended up kicking the person in front of me. These are all things that you can test out if you try a week trial before joining.
I suggest deciding which of these gym factors are most important to you. Visit several gyms in your area before deciding, and make a list of all the positives and negatives of every gym. Check online gym review sites and see what other members have to say about the gyms. It is important to invest your money in a place where you will be spending many hours of your week exercising, so choose wisely. Happy gym hunting!