13 questions for Beginners: Gym Selection.
Partying too hard
It’s Sunday afternoon. You are recovering from a wild Saturday evening of drinking and going out. Laying on the couch with a huge hangover, telling yourself that will never happen again, you realize that you are nowhere near the shape you used to be in. You get winded easily. Your clothes don’t fit as they once did. How far has your health deteriorated from the abuse? Is it time for a change? A complete overhaul? But where do you start? Do I have to start going to the gym?
We have all been there. Trying to jump onto the “Better oneself” wagon. And we go full throttle. And the biggest decision we make is to join a gym. There’s so many choices. What kind do I want to join? Are all these people going to be staring at me? Can I afford it? Is it worth it? Wish there was an Ultimate Guide for Beginners to help me select a gym.
Choosing a gym is similar to courtship. You are selecting a romance, a friend, a companion—you’ll be spending a lot of time together and things will get sweaty, (sometimes smelly). With some personal contemplation, preparation, and screening, you’ll be on your way to what may be a match made in heaven (at least when it comes to this key element of your fitness journey).
WIth the initial step, It can be a very overwhelming and downright frightening experience, especially if you have never visited one before. Most people talk themselves out of visiting a gym as they sit in the parking lot. It can be intimidating.
SO, to start the decision process, you need to first figure out what sort of gym you would like to be a part of.
What do I need to know?
So what is the best sort of gym?
For novices: If you’ve never been to a gym before, the rows of cardio equipment (for weight loss), the vast free weights section (for improving cardio-respiratory strength), and the resistance training area may frighten you (for building mass and toning muscles).
You should plan to spend considerable time in these facilities as a beginning, since you’ll need to utilize a variety of gym equipment to work out your complete body. So look for a gym that offers all of these.
For ladies: Some ladies choose to go to a fitness studio that is tailored to their specific requirements, while others prefer to go to a traditional gym. The truth is that every gym should have more than treadmills, weight benches, and trainers; it should also have a welcoming community where everyone — regardless of gender — may exercise in a welcoming and courteous environment. Before joining a gym, get a sense for the atmosphere.
For beginner and advanced gym-goers: If you’ve been consistently and effectively weight training for at least 6–12 months, you’re called an intermediate trainee. You can be called an advanced trainee if you’ve completed the majority of your goals or are extremely near to realizing your inherent genetic potential.
For those needing Specific Training: You might have an interest in a specific sport, or type of community. Does Crossfit, Bodybuilding, Strongman, or Powerlifting set your soul a blaze? You might want to explore rock climbing or swimming. Whatever grabs your attention, you need to do some soul searching and check yourself to see what truly excites you.
If you fall into either of these categories, you’ll probably be performing a mix of body weight and free weight exercises, complex motions, and isolation sessions. Choose a gym with the equipment you’ll need to do all of these exercises.
Furthermore, as an advanced-level athlete who performs a lot of compound exercises, you should seek a gym with a lot of free squat racks rather than simply Smith Machines. Better still, choose one that has both. When completing complex exercises, squats are crucial, and doing them on a free squat rack stimulates your stabilizer strength more intensively than doing them on a Smith Machine.
Even if you don’t want to go to a gym that caters to particular sorts of gym-goers, it’s still a good idea to think about what makes a gym “the perfect gym.”
Here are 13 questions.
You should ask yourself (or a membership adviser) before joining a gym to help you find out what you truly want—SOUL SEARCHING if you will. Remember, there are no correct or incorrect answers to these questions. It all comes down to what seems like a good match for you. And be truthful with yourself during this process. It will only put you on the right path.
Close to my house?
What is the closest location to your house or office?
The first and most important consideration is location.Think about location, location, location when choosing a gym. It’s all about CONVENIENCE! A lot of people might consider going to another gym further out if it is cheaper. We have to balance out the cost of gas. However, if the gym is out of the way and not accessible to your house or your work, let’s face it—the chances of you going are slim to none. If it’s easier to go home after a hard day at work than to drive to the gym, where do you think you’ll end up?
The more convenient it is for you, the more likely you are to go, resulting in more bang for your buck. The gym’s hours are directly related to its location. It won’t work for you if it doesn’t fit into your timetable.
When do you prefer to exercise?
Another thing to think about is Peak hours. If you don’t enjoy crowds and waiting for equipment, you might want to contemplate coming in at off hours. Every gym has a cycle, and this usually revolves around early mornings and evenings being busy time. Peak hours vary, but most gyms are busiest between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. Fitting gym time into your hectic schedule might be tough. Consider a gym’s working hours before purchasing a membership. Also consider a gym that offers a 24 hr availability. A gym with hours that match your preferences and schedule may motivate you to work out more frequently.
At the gym, there are few things more irritating than someone invading your personal space. If your schedule requires you to arrive at the same time as everyone else, inquire with the staff about the likelihood of you having to wait for machines or equipment. So double check the hours of operation for the gym you are interested in.
Congratulations! You have decided what type of gym you would like to visit and entered through the gateway to a better you. So now what?
Is the Staff friendly?
(small smirk on my face) The fun begins.
What do I expect when meeting the front desk staff? (Sales Rep)
Once you walk into the gym, being greeted by a staff member or sales rep should always be warm and friendly. It is the first impression of the facility and will be a continual experience. SO if that is a negative, it may leave a bad taste in your mouth. I have basically lived in gyms since I was 6 years old, so I am always attempting to size up the gym personnel as a whole. Which I agree, can be a bit of a stretch, so don’t be afraid to ask general fitness questions. Feel free to inquire about the credentials of the staff or, at the very least, if there is a go-to person. The gym’s atmosphere is determined by the employees.
BEFORE THE TOUR
If the front desk staff hasn’t turned you off to exploring the facility further, in comes the liability waiver. All facilities have a type of waiver. It is ensured that they are covered under their insurance if anything were to happen to you while under their roof. It also puts you on their mailing list.
If you don’t want a tour, and can go straight to working out, ask if they have a day pass. Most gyms allow walk-ins, you might have to pay a fee around $5 and it goes up from there up.
Now the gym is set up to provide everyone with the resources they need to achieve their fitness goals. Anyone is welcome to exercise at the gym, whether they are wanting to tone up or gain strength, although you may want to consult your physician beforehand. After my trip to the ER in April of 2021, I needed to get a grip on why my Blood pressure was 235/190. Which could have been fatal if I attempted a lifting routine. So always consult your physician.
Some gym facilities may request you to reveal any medical issues before beginning your fitness journey. This allows the facilities staff to be aware of your health risks, plus as a bonus personal trainers are able to create a program that is tailored to your needs, later on that.
Here are some instances of what you could be requested to reveal:
- Any existing heart problems
- Diabetes and other chronic medical problems
- Have you undergone any significant procedures in the previous 12 months?
- Whether you’ve ever been told by a doctor that you shouldn’t exercise. (Yes, people neglect to divulge that information. Shame Shame.)
Now, we have all heard “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,”but in this case allow yourself to be swayed by the cover of a book (or the inside cover). A drive by won’t cut it because it’s difficult to notice all the bells and whistles of a gym from the outside. In this case, Aesthetics hold water. Experiencing the inside for yourself, especially during a time of day when you think you’ll be there, will give a better feel of the energy of the establishment. What are your initial thoughts? What does your gut feeling tell you? Take notice of the layout, the number of people in the gym, the cleanliness, and so on. Remove everything from your list that you can’t live with or that you perceive as a problem. And don’t be afraid to ask your tour guide questions; after all, that’s what they’re there for.
Is it important for you to participate in group exercise classes?
Are you a big fan of group fitness classes? As you are being shown the facility, make sure to ask the staff member if the gym provides group classes; bootcamp, step aerobics, pilates, Zumba. It’s crucial that the gym provides you with what you want (so you don’t waste money on a gym that can’t meet your goals.) In the event that they offer classes, look at the fitness class schedule. Are the lessons at times that are convenient for you? Are they engaging, exciting, and specific to your goals? Classes are a great way to keep you motivated and reach your objectives faster than you could on your own. You become part of a community and that energy is intoxicating. If the majority of the classes offered do not peak your interest and you still want to attend classes, you might want to explore a different gym. Don’t be afraid to ask gym personnel to show you their class schedules if you’re interested in taking exercise classes.
You also need to take your fitness level into consideration, the gym’s size and sorts of classes if you’re just getting started. You might need more instruction, smaller classes, more 1-on-1 when getting started. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We all have a starting place. If you’re an experienced fitness goer, a larger class may be more enjoyable. However, it’s crucial to consider how much training you’ll need to stay fit and avoid injury.
What kind of equipment do you prefer to use?
The main area of the gym is usually the focal point. Ask yourself: Do you enjoy running on a treadmill? Do I want a lot of free weights? Do I need platforms and rubber weights? Do they have a turf area for functional training?
If you love running, choose a gym with a large number of treadmills, or even other cross trainers, so you won’t have to wait long for them. If you’re a fan of free weights? Make sure you have plenty of iron to go around. The workout you love is the one you will continue with. Look for a gym that appears to have training equipment and programs that you would enjoy
One of the primary reasons people join a gym is for the equipment. It’s critical to understand what equipment you now require as well as what you might want to utilize in the future. Take note of what’s available, the overall condition, and the amount of more popular components like squat racks, machines, and treadmills while on your tour.
Also take notice of the quality of the equipment. The gym’s equipment should be current and up to date. The equipment should be in good working order and free of corrosion. Any damage to the machinery might result in serious injury to you. Train at your own risk.
How are the services and amenities?
What amenities and services does the gym offer?
Over the past 2 decades, I’ve had the pleasure of training clients in all types of gyms. And many were as different as a rainbow is to a rock. Some were big box gyms like LA Fitness or St. Jame’s Sports Complex. Others were bare bones, with nothing but the smell of rust and sweat to get you moving- Oh, how I love that.
Most gyms will have the typical amenities; showers, lockers, and bathrooms. But if these aren’t going to do it for you, might want to look for a gym that can provide some more comforts. There are gyms that provide saunas, tanning, lap pools, and even rock climbing walls to name a few.
If you are a parent, like myself, the gym must have a kid’s club so you can workout. Otherwise you’re trying to find a babysitter and that’s an added expense.
Another amenity that is usually overlooked and underappreciated is Temperature control. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, however for the vast majority of the breathing population it is. It’s an essential element since we sweat and lose water rapidly during an intensive workout, leaving us thirsty and exhausted. If the climate inside the gym is humid or hot, you will become weary quickly, and if the temperature is chilly, you will find it difficult to warm up. As a result, I typically advise my clients to choose a gym that has some sort of air circulation and is somewhere in the 70 dgr range. The more the air temperature maintains a consistent temperature, the better it is for your workout.
EXCLUSIVE ACCESS FOR GUESTS
The benefits of being a member of a gym are part of the allure of enrolling. However, the services provided by each gym differ. What exactly do we mean? Some clubs may give away “ FREE” stuff . Like guest passes, so you can finally persuade your closest friend or partner to join you at the gym. Some gyms may cater to your taste buds, by providing a free smoothie or breakfast (hello, bagels!) as a thank you for joining the group. Most gyms these days offer supportive groups via online portals and forums where you may connect with other members. These are great for inspiration and motivation while working out. Additionally, several clubs may provide unique services, such as massages, so be sure to inquire about any packages they may offer.
It’s also crucial to understand what’s not included and what the trade-offs are. It’s great to have towels available, for example, but gyms that provide that service may be more expensive, i.e. COST. The word “cost” usually draws attention. When determining how to pick a gym, you should always try to get the most bang for your dollars. Always examine the services provided by the gym before evaluating the price. If you think something is included in the bundle, and they leave it out, you won’t get it once you sign the membership agreement without drawing more cost.
Another subject that gets overlooked while deciding on a gym is parking. There isn’t anything more irritating than being psyched for an amazing workout and spending half the time driving around trying to find a parking space. If the gym doesn’t have ample parking, you might want to go to a gym that has enough parking. Would you enjoy walking three blocks to your vehicle after an intense leg workout? I wouldn’t.
Would you enjoy working with a Personal Trainer?
If group fitness courses intimidate you (especially those with titles like “burn”), hiring a personal trainer for a period of time might be a wonderful method to get you started when you’re not sure what to do. Before you join, look into the trainer prices and see whether you’re willing to spend that on top of your monthly dues. Check to see whether the gym provides new members with a free personal training session. Get your feet wet.
Having a certified trainer at the gym is sometimes overlooked when making a selection. Your trainer needs to be certified, in fact, be a qualified trainer. They should have all of the fitness expertise and all sorts of training programs necessary to help you achieve your fitness objectives. Make certain to inquire about your trainer’s certification status. In addition, your professional trainer will protect your safety and help you avoid injuries.
A wide range of training possibilities
Everyone has various training requirements and preferences; some people prefer to work with a personal trainer one-on-one, while others flourish and perform better in a group setting. As a result, you should choose a gym that provides a range of workout options.
You could like 1:1 training right now, but later discover that a pair training session or a small group class is more your style.
Also, look at the various personal training programs. Fitness professionals have a wide range of specializations and areas of competence. While many instructors are familiar with basic weight training, there are few that are able to incorporate a broader spectrum of training. You need to ask yourself, “What do I need to focus on currently?” Depending on the gym they may have Specialized Trainer on staff. If they don’t, you could venture out and look for a specialist in the specific area you’re wanting to pursue.
(Related: How to Find the Right Personal Trainer. )
can I bring a friend?
Do you want to go to the gym with a friend?
While working out with a personal trainer is a fantastic method to stay responsible, doing out with friends may also help you stay on track (and it’s also less expensive). Try joining a gym where your friend is already a member, or sign up for a gym membership together! If that isn’t a possibility, think about the gym’s sense of community. Unless you’re searching for a gym that caters to a certain demographic, assessing the members of a gym is tough from the start of a tour. You may spend many hours a week at the gym, and whatever the case may be, you want to make sure you’re in a friendly, comfortable, and encouraging atmosphere that will make you want to return again and again.
The environment in various gyms varies. Some are larger, with individuals who don’t usually attend the same sessions, while others have a tight-knit community where you’ll see the same people at the same times. Are you searching for a group environment to workout in where you could meet a buddy or two, or are you simply looking for a group setting to workout in where you might meet a friend or two?
Are you going to the gym to get ready?
Most may think this is a trivial question, however over the years many of my female clients addressed this in length. Consider how important the locker room is to you. Consider what characteristics are crucial whether you intend on working out in the morning and going directly to the office, or if you plan on working out over your lunch hour. Are you going to the gym to get a pump, and then head out straight to the bar? Is there a mirror space? What about hair dryers? Showers that are pleasant? It’s completely personal (and I, for one, can’t live without a shower). And I’m sure others appreciate my cleanliness.
What is in my budget?
What is your financial plan?
Once you’ve gone through the entire tour, you asked the important questions. It’s time to figure out what your budget is? It’s a seriously crucial component to making that decision to join. Gym membership rates vary considerably based on where you live, but you can get an idea of how much money you’ll spend in your region by visiting several gyms. Consider whether you’ll have to pay a charge to become a member. There may also be some nice offers going on that you aren’t aware of, so ask a membership adviser about any that are currently available (or see if there are any special discounts for students, veterans, or just budget-savvy people like yourself).
How do you feel about contracts? Are they a deal breaker?
Over the decades the terminology of “Contract” has changed. Many gyms have switched to using “Agreement.” It definitely comes across softer and less permanent. But you still have to see the value for what you are agreeing to, not the sales rep. If you’re not convinced about the whole “gym thing,” don’t join up for one that forces you to sign a year-long contract. Month-to-month subscriptions are usually a little more expensive, but they allow you more flexibility if you decide it’s not right for you.
Is it possible to acquire a free trial membership?
If you’re sitting on the fence, and would like to get a better feel for the gym environment, ask for a free trial. Make sure you can test out a gym before committing to it. “It’s crucial to figure out what gym or class is best for you. If you’re deciding between a few gyms, schedule small trial periods at each one before committing to one—It will feel like speed gym dating, but that could be fun.
Also, whether the trial period is for a day, a few days, or a week, make sure to take full use of it. So check out the equipment, plan out when you believe you’ll be there, and take a couple of classes. Then, at the end of your trial time, ask yourself, “How was my workout?” Did I enjoy the trainer? Did I enjoy the gym’s atmosphere? (You should say yes, yes, and yes!)
What’s the bottom line?
Keep in mind that not all gyms are made equal. The cost of going to the gym varies a lot. Consider the value you’re receiving and the price you’re paying. Is the staff concerned about building a community, maintaining a clean and safe environment, and providing a diverse range of alternatives and amenities?
Once you’ve found a gym that suits your budget, double-check a few aspects. Are there any extra expenses, such as an annual equipment maintenance charge or cancellation fees, in addition to membership fees? Is it covered if you opt to attend one or two classes? You’ll want to be sure there aren’t any surprises here. Paying additional money out of the blue might leave you with a sour taste in your mouth and a hole in your pocket.
What’s the bottom line? When looking for a gym, the most crucial thing is that you feel at ease – and eager to work out. It’s a huge decision, however when it comes to your health you’ll end up paying for it on the front end, or the back. After seeing my father go down hill, and then I eventually wound up in the ER, I chose the front-end and improved my quality of life. I need to be there for my son, and enjoy our quality time together. So whatever you choose to do, please speak with your doctor. And take the first step to a better you!