I once walked into a Bally’s in Washington, DC to check it out… I was subjected to a high pressure sales pitch then was insulted by the sales person when I didn’t cave in. Suffice it to say that I will never join a Bally’s and neither will anyone willing to listen.
But it begs the question, how do you decide which gym to join?
Factor #1: Convenience.
The more convenient the location of the gym the more likely you’ll go. Is parking available? Is it easy to get to? Do the gym hours work with your schedule?
Factor #2: Facilities
The equipment doesn’t have to be brand spanking new but they should be in good condition. Look for machines you might use. Visit the gym at a time when you would normally go. Is it crowded? Is there a wait to use the machines? Don’t forget to look at the locker room and make sure it’s clean and well-kept. Do they have other services that you’re interested in? Maybe a tanning salon, personal training, massage services, or a daycare?
Do they offer a wide variety of group fitness classes? On your tour, take a few moments to observe a class. Is the instructor good? Do the students look like they’re enjoying themselves?
Factor #4: Ambience
Does the gym have a good energy about it or is it a barren wasteland with only a few surly-looking members hanging about? Is the staff friendly?
But what about price, you ask? That all depends on what you’re willing to pay and the kind of services you’re looking for. Some gyms have swimming pools and tennis courts. If you’re not going to use it, don’t pay for it.
By all means, take advantage of their free membership passes and get an even better feel of the place by actually using it. But please don’t sign any contracts without reading it! Some legal considerations at least in the state of Maryland can be found here. Your state government website should have some information for you.
Going to the gym can be a real drag and often requires a lot of motivation (even bribery) so having a gym that you enjoy will make a huge difference.
And as always, if you love your local gym, leave your recommendation in the comments. Hopefully we can partner up some people with the gym of their dreams.
Photo via Flickr (Creative Commons) by Sanchom.