How to Choose a Fitness Gym

Joining a gym is a great way to stay healthy and fit, but with the number of facilities available, you may have a hard time making a decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself about each of your options to narrow down the contenders.

1. Is the gym conveniently located? Location is key; ideally, the gym shouldn’t be too far from your home or your office. If you have to travel a significant distance to work out, it will be too easy to convince yourself to skip out on workouts. In addition, make sure the gym is located in an area in which you feel safe; if you are afraid of the neighborhood, you’re less likely to stick to your gym schedule.

2. What are the gym’s hours? While most gyms are open late enough to accommodate patrons who work well into the evening, you shouldn’t make this assumption. If you work swing shifts or have an otherwise unpredictable schedule, you may want to choose a gym that is open 24 hours to make sure that you can fit your workouts into your schedule whenever you have time.

3. Is the facility clean? Ask for a tour of the gym before you sign up to join, and pay close attention to the cleanliness of the gym, locker room and showers. Mold or mildew, a musty smell or any other signs that the level of cleanliness is lacking should serve as red flags. Areas that aren’t cleaned properly may promote the spread of fungal infections, MRSA and other nasty diseases.

4. Can you try the gym for a week without commitment? Some gyms allow prospective members to use a guest pass for a one-week trial of their facilities before requiring them to sign contacts. This is a great way to test-drive a potential gym to make sure it’s a good fit for you.

5. Do you like the atmosphere? While some gym-goers prefer a laid-back, social atmosphere, others take their fitness and gym time very seriously and prefer to have little interaction with other members. Try and gauge the atmosphere of the gym when you visit. Do you see people standing around chatting? If so, will that bother you when you’re trying to work out?

6. Will the equipment serve your purposes? Everyone has their preferences when it comes to workout equipment. You may prefer machines over free weights, or vice versa; you may like punching bags and jump ropes more than fancy treadmills and elliptical machines. If the equipment at the gym you visit doesn’t appeal to you, you’re a lot less likely to use it, and there’s no sense in paying for a gym with expensive equipment if you prefer the basics.

7. What kinds of “extra” facilities or services come along with membership? If the gym has a sauna, personal trainers, a pool, a childcare center or other unique facilities or benefits, be sure to ask if these are included with the cost of your membership, or if you have to pay extra to use them.

When it comes to working out, everyone has different ideas of what makes a gym experience ideal. By using these questions to guide your quest for a gym, you can find a facility that suits your schedule, budget and fitness needs.