How to Find a Gym
Is that gym or health club really right for you? Here are 5 ways to assess whether a fitness club will work for you.
3. Take a Spin around Prospective Gyms continued...
"If there's cracked or broken upholstery, that sometimes gives you an
insight into the type of money that the gym's ownership is putting into
maintenance," Schiff says. "Little things like that are indications to
Nowhere is quality more important than the locker room. Let's face it: A
messy, wet locker room with towels heaped on the floor and a dirty shower with
cracked tiles is going to sap your desire to work out at that gym. So make sure
the potential locker room is hygienic, has a towel service, and has adequate
facilities -- so that you're not stuck waiting for a free shower after you've
worked out for an hour. Lockers are crucial too, especially if you go to the
gym before or after work, and need a place for your work clothes and valuables.
Make sure that lockers are available and secure, and find out if the gym
charges a rental fee.
4. Find Out about the Gym's Service Ethic
Another way to gauge a health club's fitness for you is to do some research
into its philosophy. Watch how the staff interacts with customers. "Get a feel
for what the staff is like," Florez says. "Look to see if the trainers are
engaged with clients, or are they sitting around? Does it look like they're
just there for window dressing?"
Make sure the gym has the facilities and the classes that you need, whether
that's a specialized weight-training program or a court for basketball or
racquetball. The latter has started to go out of fashion, Schiff says, so if
playing squash is important to you, be sure to see the condition of the courts.
If a fitness club has a bevy of newer, hipper types of classes, such as yoga or
Pilates, you might want to see if there are men-only sessions or classes taught
by men. "Men sometimes are less flexible and less likely to jump into a yoga
class then women," Florez says. If that sounds like you, you might be more
comfortable having a guy teach you the basics of Pilates.
Another thing to consider: Are there exclusive sections of the health club?
If so, that could affect your workout schedule. For example, if a section of
the weight room is for women only, "that's square footage of the club that is
off-limits to you," Ross says. "That might be a concern if space is limited to
Health clubs typically offer services to get you started, such as a
complimentary personal training session and trainers available to show you the
ins and outs of various machines. Be sure to take advantage of these.
5. Remember: This Club's for You
A guy asks a friend at the office about his gym because he's looking for a
workout partner, and he joins the gym solely because his friend works out
there. Then his friend quits working out or his schedule changes. Does this
scenario sound familiar? Suddenly the guy "is stuck with this membership that
he wouldn't have purchased otherwise," says Schiff. "He made his buying
decision based on another person."
It's a common but big mistake. Florez recommends using friends and family as
referrals to find a gym only if their exercise needs are similar to yours,
they're in similar physical condition, or they're pursuing similar fitness
goals. "If you get referrals from an 18-year-old bodybuilder and you're a
45-year-old guy who wants to lose weight, that's not going to help you," Florez
says. Most importantly, whether you're seeking fitness at
50 or at 25, remember: You're working out for yourself. Make sure your
needs and convenience come first.