Yesterday we discussed gym etiquette on our blog. However, if you haven’t signed up for a gym yet, what factors should you be looking for?
If finding the time in your schedule to go to the gym is tight, a convenient location is essential as the more time you spend travelling to the gym, the less time you’ll have available to train. The location should be convenient both when travelling from home or from your workplace – one of my previous gyms was on my route home from work which was absolutely ideal. If you travel regularly, a membership with a gym chain can be an attractive option, but if 99% of the time your local gym will be the most convenient, there is little value in paying a premium to have access to other gyms you will never use.
The range and quantity of equipment are both important factors to consider. The range will influence the type of exercises you have the option to do. Check that the gym has every type of equipment you personally consider to be essential, but remember that the wider the range, the more flexibility you will have, something that could be useful later down the line. The quantity of the most popular machines available is also important. Demand for machines such as treadmills will always be high, particularly at peak times, so the more machines the gym has available, the shorter your wait to use it will be.
Facilities and surroundings
The main difference between budget gyms and higher end gyms will be found in terms of the facilities and the quality of the surroundings. There are certain facilities that almost every gym will need to offer, which will include sufficiently large changing rooms equipped with lockers (at some budget gyms you will have to provide your own padlock, so always check this before training at a new gym for the first time) and showers. Alongside the space for using each machine, look also for hall space for group classes, as well as spaces for training on mats.
These facilities are the true essentials of a gym. Of the additional facilities that may be on offer, a swimming pool will be the most useful, opening up another way for you to train. Other facilities on offer may include saunas, steam rooms and a bar or cafe amongst others. Some of these facilities may not be essential, but they can make the gym a more pleasurable place to be. If you enjoy being at a gym, you’ll find yourself training there more often, so these features certainly aren’t unnecessary extras. How much extra it is worth paying for them though is a different question.
Being able to interact with other gym users is one of the big attractions of training at a gym rather than training alone at home or outdoors. Often the more you have in common with your fellow gym users, whether this be in terms of fitness levels, goals or more social factors, the more you’ll enjoy these interactions, so look for these similarities when looking around a gym. Remember though that the clientele of the same gym can be completely different depending on the time of day, so it will be best to visit at the time you intend to train most frequently.
Make sure you assess the true cost of a gym. This will not only include the basic membership fee but the cost of signing up for classes or using certain facilities if they are not included within the membership, any induction fees and the travel costs too. The length of the membership is also something to be considered – if you can make the commitment of a longer contract and be fairly certain you will still be using the gym by the end of the contract you can potentially save yourself some money, though shorter contracts will always be more flexible.
Choosing the right gym is essential to facilitate regular training. If you get the choice right, you’ll enjoy going to the gym and excuses not to go will be kept to an absolute minimum, helping ensure that your commitment stays high and allowing you to benefit from everything the gym has to offer in your training.