There are thousands of gyms in the UK today, all offer a variety of facilities and services. Finding the right gym is important, you want to feel motivated and you’re getting value for money. My gym is my second home, I am comfortable in there and I’ve met lots of friends who I can train with.
A good gym will fit around your lifestyle and motivate you to return to train again. Joining a gym is a large financial commitment, so how can you decide between a no frills gym or an upmarket health club? You will have to part with at least £100 to join a private club. If you cancel your membership part way through the year joining fees are non-returnable. So make sure you really are committed to getting fit before signing up.
Some gyms offer swimming pools, tennis courts and cafes whilst others do not. I would recommend asking to look around gyms and ask any questions you may have, some gym’s also offer free passes so you can see if you’d fit into that gym. Check if you can get a reduced induction fee or whether there are offers available at different times of the year.
Here are the factors I would recommend you consider before joining a gym:
Is the location of the gym accessible to you? You want to find a gym where you don't have to travel very far and that you know you wouldn't mind driving to. Sometimes, a gym located around your home and workplace is ideal. On days when you are short for time, can you train during a lunch break or before work?
Is the gym open when you’ll use it most? How busy would the gym be at peak times? Some gyms are open 24 hours a day, others are closed on weekends or bank holidays. Whether you workout early in the morning or late at night, make sure the hours fit your schedule. Can you comfortably get in a workout around your hectic schedule? You want to make sure that, if you are paying for a membership, your workout schedule is well within their hours of operation, if not, you will be wasting your money.
Make sure you feel comfortable working around the people you see at the gym. Some gyms are known for being more hard-core, such as the powerlifting gyms and the bodybuilding gyms. Searching for the right gym is about you. If you feel uncomfortable or intimidated around certain types of people when working out this isn’t the right gym. Is there a good split of male and females working out? How busy is the gym at peak times and when you are planning to exercise?
Are the Personal Trainers qualified to guide you through your fitness exercises? What kind of services do they offer? Diet plans etc. What are their rates per session? Are the staff approachable and supportive if you need to answer questions? How is the atmosphere in the gym? Do you feel motivated and inspired in the gym? Are inductions offered by staff to new starters?
Maintenance & Cleanliness
Maintenance and cleanliness in a gym is key. Do staff perform checks of all areas of the gym? Are they enforcing a high standard of hygiene? Do fellow gym members treat the equipment well and wipe sweat off machines they have used? Are the changing rooms clean and toilet and shower facilities maintained? It is also important to ensure that the equipment you want to use is working correctly, especially when you are attempting to hit certain muscles. Are machines checked for safety and are they repaired quickly?
Is there a wide variety of gym equipment available that you want to use and will help you achieve your goals? The equipment that you use needs to be in good working condition. Is the equipment a good brand, will you use it? Is there a free weights area, is this large enough for the number of members at the gym. Are the grips on gym apparatus worn down or like new? Do the machines run smoothly? Do the machines provide instructions on how to use it? You may also want to consider how other members are treating the gym equipment. Are there dumbbells all across the floor? Are the bars and ropes misused?
If you have an interest in classes, ensure there are schedules listed in the gym or online that you can book onto. Make sure that the classes you want to attend are available at times that suit you. Find out if there are additional charges to participate in certain classes. Decide whether or not these fees are affordable before you join, or you might be paying for a membership that you don’t really use.
The cost is arguably one of the biggest factors when joining a gym. You will see some gyms have joining fees or an induction fee. Check online to see if there are any discounts to waiver these fees. Are you tied into a year’s membership? Is there the option to pay monthly on a rolling contract? Will there be cancellation fees or can you freeze your membership? Another important decision is whether your circumstances will change or if the gym fits into your budget. As always, shop around and find the right deal for you. Take advantage of a day pass if your offered one!
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