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How To Choose A Gym - What to look for in a health club or gym to get the best deal on a membership for you



Have a look at some of the articles published in previous issues of BetterU News...

The Absolute Worst, Most Incredibly Terrible Workout I've Ever Witnessed In My Entire Life!

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10 Things You NEED to Know When Choosing A Gym... Save Yourself a Boatload of Time AND Money!

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How To Choose A Gym

Home -> The Library -> Choosing a Gym

Checklist for choosing a gym.

If you have never been to a gym before then it is quite possible you arenít sure how to tell a good gym from one that may not suit you. Many of the things you should look for are simply common sense, while other things are not so obvious. It is up to you to choose what is important to you.

It is always a good idea to try out a facility at the time you are planning to work out at so you know what sort of conditions you will be facing before you sign up for a membership.

1. Location, location, location

Is the gym near your home or work? If it isnít then it may become inconvenient very fast. Even the most dedicated of trainers would have a hard time commuting 45 minutes both ways to get to a gym .

2. The price is right

  • Some of the best gyms around are also the most reasonably priced.

  • Be aware of what you are looking for in a gym and what you will be paying for in a membership. If you just want to use the weights but are getting charged for the sauna, racquetball courts, swimming pool, etc., you may wish to look into a no-frills gym at a lower rate.

  • Many gyms actually justify rate increases because of adding new equipment or services that nobody wanted or even uses.

  • Substance should always win out over glitz and glamor.

  • Price should also be judged according to location. A nearby gym at a slightly higher rate may be worth signing up for rather than a further away gym at a lower rate. If you donít go then you are wasting your money anyway.

  • For a good basic gym, the average rate is around $30 to 40 per month. Lower rates often limit the number of days you can workout during the week while higher rates often include more services and facilities.

3. Quality of the facility

The quality of the gym is very important.

If the gym is dirty and the equipment is falling apart then chances are it is not a good choice.

  • Look for well-maintained equipment and a clean facility.
  • Check the benches and machines for fraying cables and stitching.
  • Check dumbells for loose plates and rust.
  • Look at the cardio machines for wear and tear and listen for strange noises.

4. Selection of equipment

Equipment selection is a very individual point that holds varying weights for different people.

  • Some people like a wide variety of equipment and machines while others just need some benches, dumbells and barbells.

  • A gym that has too much equipment can be just as bad as a gym that doesnít have enough as they can be quite confusing, especially to a beginning trainer.

  • Advanced trainers should look for heavy dumbells (this is a good indication of the target membership of a gym Ė the heavier the dumbells, the more advanced the trainers).

  • Look for a wide variety of cardio machines as well.

5. Qualified and friendly staff

Anybody can throw on a T-shirt and sit at a desk.

  • Is the staff qualified to instruct you if you need it?

  • Are they strong enough to spot you if you need it?

  • Are they more interested in getting their commission off your membership and selling you supplements then on helping you get fitter and healthier?

  • Ask for qualifications before you sign up.

  • Friendliness is also important. A grouchy face when you arrive for a workout can drain the energy right out of you.
The gym you choose should have qualified and friendly staff.

Other Considerations

1. Other trainers

Are the other people who work out at that gym friendly and/or knowledgeable? Training in a positive atmosphere can do wonders for anybody.

2. Population density

This is not a measure of the intellect of the other trainers in the gym.

  • How many people will be in the gym when you are planning to go? If the gym is extremely crowded at that time then your workout may not be as enjoyable. Nobody likes to wait for equipment.
  • To solve this, you must either work out at a different time or find a gym that doesnít get crowded at that time.

3. Changing facilities

Some gyms have good changing rooms while others have what seems to be a closet. Many gyms offer lockers as well. If a good locker room is important to you, be sure to check this out before signing up.

4. Miscellaneous

Here are a few other things to look out for:

  • Parking
  • Childcare facilities and staff
  • Other classes such as aerobics, stretching, etc. Fees for them?

5. Contracts

Many health clubs require you to sign a membership contract before you can start working out. A good contract can protect both the interests of the club and the rights of the client at the same time. Here are some tips on things you should be aware of when you are signing a health club contract.

  • If you are under any sort of pressure to sign, e.g. this deal is for today only, walk away. Take the contract home with you to read carefully. Don't feel pressured into signing anything.
  • Find out how long the contract is for. Ask about taking out a monthly membership where you pay as you go. This is the best option if you are not sure if you are going to able to commit to a club for 3 years as that is how long many gym contracts are for.
  • Find out if the membership automatically rolls over when your contract is completed. This means you will be signed up again even if you didn't want to be. You may have to send a certified letter declaring your cancellation of the membership.
  • Ask to try out the facility before signing up for anything. Be sure to read anything presented to you to sign "for liability purposes" before using the club. Disreputable clubs have been known to slip membership contracts to people when they sign something to try the club out.
  • Bargain with the salesperson. You can often get reduced rates. Be absolutely sure anything you agree on gets written into your contract.
  • Test out a few gyms before signing any sort of contract.

Canceling your membership:

There are a few things you should know about membership cancellation. There are laws in most, if not all, states in the United States (and possibly other countries) that dictate what rights you have as far as health club contract cancellation goes.

You may cancel your contract within 3 business days of your signing without penalty. This must often be done by registered or certified letter.

You may cancel your contract at any time under the following conditions:

  • You move more than 25 miles away from any health club operated by the seller.
  • You suffer physical disability which will prevent you from using the facilities for more than 6 months.
  • The club ceases to offer services that were in the contract.

Remember, always read the fine print!

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