Tips to help you pick the right gym
By Brittany Anas
Seeking a long-term relationship with a gym? Whether it’s your resolutions or the cold snap (brr, it’s downright freezing in some parts of the country!) that are driving you for an indoor workout, now is a popular time to go shopping for a gym membership.
We know you’re excited and eager to sign up for a membership — but before you commit to a contract, here’s a few things that you should think about to make sure that your gym is the right fit for you and your lifestyle. And so that the two of you can live happily (and healthily) ever after.
- Gym hours. Having a regular gym routine will keep you on track with your fitness goals. Maybe you plan to workout every morning prior to work — or perhaps you’ll hit the gym during your lunch hour. If you prefer to unwind at night, make sure your gym doesn’t shut down too early. It totally interrupts your gym flow when you still have a couple sets left or a few more laps on the treadmill and the lights start shutting down and the cleaning crew is vacuuming around you. And the guy at the front desk is giving you the evil eye because he’s ready to clock out.
- Proximity. Check out the gyms within a five or 10-mile radius of you because when it’s snowing out or when there’s rush hour, that time you spend in your car is time that cuts into your workout. Plus, it’s less of a task to head to the gym when you can get there in just a few minutes.
- Amenities. If you love swimming as a form of cardio, be sure to check whether there’s a pool and inquire about whether it runs on the same hours as the fitness club. Maybe a hot tub is important to you? Make a list of “must-have” qualities and don’t get swooned by the extras (i.e. organic juice bars, massage parlors, restaurants, big outdoor pools) because they usually tack on to the price. When you’re taking a tour of the gym, go at the time you plan on being at the gym — and take note of how busy the machines are that you plan on using. Are the lap lanes full? Are the locker rooms clean?
- Ask around. Of course it’s the job of membership representatives and trainers to sell the gym to you. To get a more neutral opinion, though, ask members and read online reviews.
- Classes. If you love group exercise, check out the schedule to make sure you’ll be able to take classes during time slots that align with your schedule. Some questions to consider: Are there extra fees for taking classes? Do you have to sign up in advance for popular classes? How early do you have to arrive for a class?
- Ask for a trial membership. The majority of gyms will let you try them out for a week or so before committing to a membership. Take advantage of that week to do your research and make sure it’s a good fit for you.
- Read the fine lines. If you travel a lot for work, are there satellite locations? Can you freeze your membership if you’ll be out-of-town? Can you go month-to-month or is there a requirement to sign a lengthier contract? Money-saving tip: Check with your employer to see if you can get any discounts at local gyms. Many companies — in an effort to encourage healthy habits among employees, thus lowering health insurance costs — will have discounted membership programs.
Smart tip: If you’re getting back into the routine of a gym, keep a gym bag packed near your door or in the car to encourage you to stick to your plan. You can find some great Nike duffle bags at Eastbay for under $30 — plus you’ll get an extra 6 percent Cash Back from ShopAtHome.com. (Read more articles about Eastbay here).
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