Advice On Joining A Gym
By Kelly Marshall BSc (Hons),Dip PT, NASM, SFS, IFS
With an ever-expanding fitness industry, there is a growing choice of options for supporting a regular exercise regime, including a vast array of health and fitness clubs. Such a variety to choose from however, doesn't necessarily make the choice any easier and as membership costs increase, its important that the one you choose provides exactly what you want!
Health clubs now offer a phenomenal range of facilities, from the latest fitness equipment, swimming pools, racquets, spa and family activities, but this is accounted for in the cost of membership and research suggests that people leave within the first 3 months of joining, due to a disappointment in achieving for money. The key to successfully choosing a gym for the long-term, is to be clear of exactly what options YOU really value before you visit any facilities. Consider the following:
Opening hours - Does the facility open and close at times that fit in with when it would be most convenient for you to use the facility?
The size of club - Like some people don't want to live in a big city, equally, some people won't want to be part of a large club. A large club will give the greatest opportunity for meeting new people whereas the smaller clubs tend to be more private, so it will depend on your preference.
Fitness Facilities - Does the facility have what you need to achieve your personal goals? The minimum should be a reasonable range/number of cardiovascular machines, resistance machines and a free weight area (with fit balls!). Also consider classes if it's something you enjoy or want to try and check the times and range of classes they have on offer. If you like swimming then does the pool meet your requirements?
Club Location - location location location! It is crucial that the facility fit into your lifestyle and not make exercising harder, so consider when you would use it with relation to its location. On the way to work or on the way back? What about weekends or rush hour traffic? Do you have to go out of your way to get there?
What is inclusive with your membership? - Get details of the service that's inclusive of membership costs, i.e. continuous appointments with the club's fitness instructors or just a one off induction? You want to be somewhere where the support/advice is easily accessible and doesn't cost you more money!
Quality of Staff - People never ask for details of staff qualifications but you should! It is your right! Make sure the instructors are all registered with the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), which governs the standards of fitness professionals in the industry. You want instructors that are at LEAST level 3 with REPs, as this means they are qualified to a 'personal trainer' level of expertise and experience, so you should be in safe, knowledgeable hands.
Intimidation factor - Classically gym's can be quite intimidating places, a potential platform of embarrassment and social comparison about your own body. Often we feel that we are going to be the least fit, surrounded by trendy, attractive, fit people who are all experts and know exactly what they are doing. Well, the truth is that this scenario is VERY rare! Health clubs now boast a membership encompassing every age, shape, size and health complication there is and everyone is in the same situation! So, when you look around a facility try and get a feel for the atmosphere and see how friendly the staff seem, importantly, are they smiling!
Peak times - Find out what the peak times are in the club and try to visit the facility at the time you might use it yourself, to get a realistic feel of the atmosphere and how busy it is.
This kind of decision-making process deserves that that little bit more consideration to save you time in the long-run instead of you becoming a 'gym-hopper' (gym hopper = someone who frequently moves around local gyms in an attempt to find the most suitable one). The sooner you make the right choice, the sooner you can get your effective, regular exercise regimen working to reach the personal goals your after!
If gym membership is something you have contemplated in the past or are currently deliberating, then I hope the considerations within this article support your decision.