Finally life seems to be returning to normal and here you are considering getting back into your fitness routine. It’s time to join a gym (especially if you have piled on those dreaded COVID kilos). You’re ready to make your come back BUT how do you know which place is right for you?
It’s important to ensure you choose the right place, one that matches your needs, one that you will actually go on a regular basis, one that will help you reach your goals.
So, before you join a gym, consider the top 7 things on our checklist!
As they say in the real estate game, location, location, location is the first thing you should think about.
It doesn’t matter if you have found your dream gym, you need to be able to get there when you want to. Is it too far out of your way? Can find a park (if you are driving)? If, not..strike it off your list right away. You need to choose a gym easy for you to get to, don’t make this hard for yourself from the start.
What are the costs?
This may be an important factor in your decision – Can it fit your budget?
- What are the different types of membership (casual, short-term, long-term etc)?
- What do the different memberships include or exclude?
- How many times you will realistically be able to visit the gym?
- Are there any sneaky fees or charges?
- Can you prepay your membership or is it direct debit?
- Are you locked in?
- What are their holding, freeze or deferral periods like?
- Is there a cooling off period?
Always take your time when signing up – shop around, compare prices, look out for specials and make sure you are getting value for money. Don’t be afraid to negotiate (in person if possible), to see if you can get a better deal.
Does the gym have everything you want?
When you go to look at a house to live in, you always go in with a checklist – the “must haves” and the “nice to haves”.
It should be exactly the same when looking at a new gym. Make a list of the features the gym “must have” – does it meet all your “must haves”?
- What days and hours is the gym open?
- Does the gym have Personal Trainers on site?
- Does the gym have all of your favourite machines?
- Do they have any group fitness classes?
- Do they have a great timetable and variety?
- Is there a free trial?
- Is there a pool if swimming is your jam?
- If you are injured or take a holiday, can you suspend your membership?
Maybe have a tour of the gym and check out every nook and cranny including:
- The cleanliness of the centre
- What are the change rooms like (and yes check the toilets)?
- Are bins empty or overflowing?
- Are there enough lockers?
- Is the equipment clean and well-maintained?
- Is it hot and stuffy?
- Are there water stations?
- What’s the vibe like (such as the music, lighting, TVs etc)?
How busy does it get?
This is one we often forget about. We turn up, have a tour, all looks good and we sign up ready to start.
Then we get down for our first training session and every piece of equipment is being used, all the machines our taken and the group fitness classes are packed to the rafters!
There is no point to join a gym if you can’t get into the classes or if you need to wait half an hour to use the running machine!
Make sure you visit when you are most likely to train to see if there is space for whatever you want to do.
What group fitness classes do they have?
If you are a groupie (as in you can’t get enough of classes) then this may be your top priority. Have you looked at what they have to offer and do they have all the classes on your “must have” list ? What’s your jam? Reformer Pilates, Strength, Spin, Boxing or maybe yoga ….. do you like to mix it up? Maybe you want to try something new?
- Have you checked the class timetable?
- Is there a good variety of classes and at various times?
- Is there a booking system?
- Are there any penalties if you have to cancel a class?
- How busy do the classes get?
- What are the instructors and members like?
- What are the group fitness rooms like (clean, light, spacious etc)
Can you try a class or two?
What’s the vibe?
This is another one which we often forget about but can have a real impact on how much we enjoy and how comfortable we feel at the gym.
When it comes to the instructors, PT’s and other staff are they friendly, professional, supportive and happy to help you out and do they know their stuff?
Are the sales staff knowledgeable and understanding or are they pushy and trying to pressure you to sign up on the spot?
Don’t forget other members – Before you join a gym, consider … Do you feel like you would fit in or do you feel intimidated? Are they rude, arrogant, inconsiderate or do you feel you could even make some friends?
What is the cancellation policy?
If worse comes to worst and you need to cancel (maybe because you are moving out of the area, injured or have lost your job and so forth), what’s the policy?
If you have prepaid or signed up for a specific period of time and you need to cancel, can you? Are there fees involved?
As you can see, there are many things to consider when looking at a gym membership… Now go for it!