Like locking into an agreement with your cell phone provider or buying a car, finding the right gym can be a nerve-wrecking experience. No one wants to be duped; everyone wants a fair deal.
Take a tour of the facility and consider the following things before signing up for a membership so that your road to weight loss and/or strength is a happy one.
The facility should be properly ventilated so no bad smells linger in the air. There should be an adequate amount of tissues and sanitation wipes — and garbage cans to throw them out — in easily accessible locations in order for members to wipe down the equipment. Check the bathroom — as well as the showers, locker room and sauna/Jacuzzi areas — for cleanliness. Ask if there is a janitorial staff and how often they clean up during a typical day.
The people surrounding you in a gym can make or break a gym’s chance at gaining your membership. Some places may attract the “I lift things up and put them down” crowd while others may be the gym-is-my-socializing-time types.
Scope out the scene during peak hours and see what kind of crowd that particular gym draws. We're talking about gym etiquette. Are people’s stuff all over the place? Are there people chatting loudly on their cell phones? Hogging machines? Grunting with each rep they do?
Exercise equipment, including machines, should be well-maintained for safety reasons and clean to avoid health concerns. Ask about their preventive maintenance schedule for machines.
If you want take part in group fitness classes, be sure to try a few before joining. Most gyms offer free trials, so take advantage of them! Talk with instructors and other gym-goers after class to get a better idea of the gym. Class schedules should match your schedule. No sense in getting a gym membership because the facility has classes and then not being able to catch any of the classes!
Customer service is everything. The staff should be able to show you how to use all of the equipment in the facility. They are also the ones who should be keeping everyone safe. Does the gym have a security plan in place? Are all staff members certified in first aid?
Make sure the gym’s location and hours match your schedule. Some facilities are open 24 hours, while others close after dark. Check and make sure the fitness group classes, personal training and any other special classes are offered during the time that is convenient for you.
Your gym should be strategically located near your home or office. Finding the motivation to get to the gym is one thing; traveling long distances or out of the way to a gym is another challenge. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Don’t let a gym rep pressure you into joining their gym, and always read the contract before signing. The Better Business Bureau advises you to ask a potential gym the following five questions about their contract:
What are the terms of any introductory offers? Gyms often use special introductory offers to lure in new members. Just make sure you understand the terms and what the price will be once the introductory period is over.
Will my membership renew automatically? Many times people who joined a gym didn’t realize that their contract would renew automatically and that they would have to take specific steps to cancel their contract.
How can I get out of my contract? Getting out of a gym contract isn’t always as easy as getting into one, so make sure you understand what steps you would need to take to cancel your membership.
What happens if I move? Gyms have any number of different policies when it comes to how moving will affect your membership. It might depend on how far away you’re moving and if they have other locations nearby.
What happens if you go out of business? Ask the gym to explain what will happen to your money if they suddenly go out of business.