Read these 11 Gym Selection Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Exercise tips and hundreds of other topics.
Towel service is one of the first things I look at when joining a gym. Think about it: if you go belong to a gym with towel service, it is more likely that it will be cleaner all-around because everyone has access to towel(s). They will be more likely to wipe up their sweat/mess or somebody elses because they can always just get a new clean towel. At a gym where people bring their own towels people might forget or not end up cleaning all their sweat off the last machine/bench/weights they just used. Another bonus about gyms with towel service is that they allow you to just drop your towels off when you're done, meaning you don't have to bring it home and wash it yourself. The convenience factor is huge, plus it is more likely that the gym you'll be in will be a cleaner one.
Find a gym that is close to either where you live or where you work. If it is in a place that you have to drive far to get to, it is going to be harder to get yourself to visit the gym because it will not be as easily accessible. If you are the kind of person that likes to go home right after work, maybe finding a gym close to work so you can exercise before and have time to get ready works best for you. Regardless, your gym choice needs to be somewhere that is easy for you to get to, giving you a better chance to actually arrive there a few times a week.
When deciding on which gym to join, take a tour of the gym and pay special attention to the weight area(s). Look to see if there are loose weights (plates, barbells and/or free weights) on the floor. If there are, not only does it mean that nobody cleans up after themselves when they do their individual workouts, but the gym employees do not clean up the weight area either. Not only does it look messy, this is turn usually means that the weight area, in all of its sweat and stinky glory, rarely gets cleaned. Your chance or getting pink-eye or ringworm is that much higher, Hoo-Ray! I don't know about you, but that is not something that I look for in a gym. Find the more organized/cleaner gyms and join there, which will lower your chance of getting odd gym illnesses.
When you choose a gym, check out the locker room. Look in the showers. This is where cleanliness is most important in a gym, because germs are most easily transfered in a damp environment. In the workout areas, make sure there is no trash lying around. If it's dirty, move on and choose a health club with emphasis on "health."
When choosing a gym, see that they have the equipment you like to use. If you like free weights, make sure the area is big enough for several people to work out. If you want weight machines, make sure that your gym has them for all muscle groups. Be sure they have more than one of your favorite cardio machine.
Don't choose a gym where the staff tries to sell you pricey designer leotards. Inexpensive cotton workout clothing is acceptable in gyms, and more expensive gear doesn't improve your workout. If the staff tries to convince you otherwise, choose a health club where the emphasis is on fitness. If the members who are working out all seem to be wearing clothes you wouldn't be comfortable in, consider whether that would distract you, but don't feel you need to buy into their uniform. If you do want to wear the latest in workout clothes, go for it!
Trying to choose a gym to join? Make a shopping list. To help your gym selection, make a list of the things that are important to you, for instance, location, price, classes, swimming pool, hours, equipment, parking, child care, crowds, clientele, trainers, etc. List those items down the side of the page and the gyms across the top, then check off which ones have what features. You may find it's easier to choose a health club when you can see the alternatives in table form.
When you choose a health club, make sure they have a health screening procedure. Your gym should screen new members for heart disease, always have a CPR-certified staff member on duty, and have an emergency response plan. This is important if you have heart disease, or if you just want to make sure an expensive club does its job.
Finding a gym is a decision where a problem with commitment is actually good. In general, it's probably best not to buy a membership at a gym for more than a year or two. The gym may change or a better one may open closer to you. Be suspicious of "lifetime memberships" unless you think it's a really good deal. Keep your gym selection options open.
Joining a gym is no longer just for the young. Most health clubs are now trying to attract members in older age groups. If you want to choose a health club where you can work out around people of your age (or sex, or size), ask the membership representative about demographics of their members, and when the group you're interested in tends to work out. As you work out more, you will be more comfortable exercising around other groups.