So, you’re ready to join a gym. It’s an exciting first step that can lead to many positive benefits for you physically and mentally. The gym is an investment, though, so it’s important to gather background information before signing on the dotted line. Each brand of gym comes with various features for various costs. What works for one person may not work for you. So do your research before joining a gym. Below we review some of the key knowledge points and questions to ask yourself and the staff at your potential new gym before committing. Read on—it could save you time, money, and unnecessary stress.
Are you signing a contract?
Just like buying a service contract for your phone, organizations like gyms have various setups when they enroll their customers and establish payment schedules. Some gyms require yearly contract where customers are asked to pay a fee every month (or one larger fee for the whole year). Usually, these payments are automatically withdrawn from your accounts as you’ll provide a card number that the gym will keep on file. In some cases, these types of yearly contracts can be challenging to get out of. But some gyms also make it easy to cancel at any time. So, just make sure you understand exactly what you’re agreeing to.
If you’ve tested out the gym and it fits your needs and budget, then feel confident to go ahead and join. On the other hand, if signing something that assures you pay a certain amount for an extended period of time (and you can’t predict your near future) unsettles you, try looking for a gym that has a month-to-month no contract deal. This way it can be renewed or canceled at any time, with no obligation.
Does the gym offer free trials for new members?
We love a try before you buy situation! So ask if the gym you’re looking to join has any free trial deals before officially signing up. Some gyms may offer a free week, an included tour, or a fitness class to potential new members. Even if the first impressions blow you away, make sure to take advantage of the free sessions before signing a contract or locking into a long-term enrollment.
Think of joining a gym as dating. You wouldn’t want to sign onto an extended relationship before having your first or second date, would you? We wouldn’t either. Plus, these free trials give you more insight into the gym’s culture than initial appearances. For example, how are the atmosphere and the overall environment? Are there constant lines to the use the equipment during traditional hours that you plan to work out? Do you enjoy the music playing or the vibe of the people around you? Is the gym clean? All of these specifics may not seem as important in the beginning. However, after a few workouts, they surely factor in.
Where is it?
Location is everything, says Aaptiv Trainer Ceasar F. Barajas. “If someone has to drive a long distance out of their way to get to a gym, it’s not going to be an accessible workout,” he says. He recommends signing up for a gym that’s on the way home from work. This way you’ll be able to squeeze in a workout before settling in for the night or ahead of your workday. A gym close to your work could be beneficial for squeezing in some quick workouts, too. According to Barajas, a gym near work could mean taking an extended lunch break to fit in some mid-day movement.
Finding a gym close to your home or apartment, however, is pretty key for getting up and moving on the weekends. Take an honest look at your workout habits and the days of the week and times of day that you’re most likely to exercise. Pick a gym location that fits with that schedule.
Does your company offer fitness benefits?
More and more businesses are backing employee health programs. It benefits companies to have healthy employees. Some employers may offer a stipend or special rate at particular gyms if you sign up through your company. This not only cuts down the price, but it can also create a community at your workplace of individuals who enjoy working out together. If you’re interested in knowing if your company offers any gym plans or pro-rates, talk to your HR representative.
Does the gym have all your necessary amenities?
“I’d think about [what] are the amenities available,” says Barajas. “Is it going to offer the necessary showers so that you can clean up before you head to work? Is there a cafe or smoothie bar available to grab that post-workout smoothie?” All these subtleties add up when talking about joining a gym. A huge motivator to engage in routine workouts and exercises is ease and comfort. If your gym makes your transition as seamless as possible when heading from working out to the office or vice versa, you’re more likely to keep going back and developing your fitness goals.
Consider what amenities are absolutely necessary for you. Some people only need a shower and clean towels, others prefer more luxurious amenities. No matter what, there’s likely a gym that will suit your needs.
Does the gym have all the equipment I need?
“Personally speaking, especially as an Aaptiv member, I’m looking for the basic equipment to fulfill my needs,” says Barajas. “Does the gym have free weights, machine weights, rowers, treadmills, ellipticals, stair climbers, space to potentially do a yoga class and/or stretch, indoor track for potential walks/runs, etc?” If you chose to engage in workouts on your own (as opposed to a class), check out the available equipment and make sure it fits in with your standard workout needs.
Does the gym have a community?
Many neighborhood or city wellness and health clubs focus on creating a community for their members. We know the power of a fitness buddy or motivational community—and many gyms are getting behind that idea, too. This can mean anything from group exercise classes to hosting intramural sports. There may be a part of you that’s not only looking to work out and increase your cardiovascular and muscle conditioning, but also increase your social network, as well. Along with having a physical community, see if any particular gyms also host an online presence, as well. Online communities can be strong, especially when it comes to holding each other accountable for fitness and nutrition-related goals.
Joining a gym is an exciting early step on your path towards a happier, healthier, fitter life. You owe it to yourself to take the time to find a gym that’s perfect for you and your individual needs. Be sure to consider all of your personal requirements and ask the gym staff any and all questions. Soon you’ll be doing your Aaptiv workouts alongside the best of them in your new gym!