Saturday, January 1, 2011

Choosing the Right Gym

It’s January and you’ve just signed up with a gym for a price that was too good to pass up - but at what cost? 
When it comes to choosing a gym, the price isn’t everything, particularly when you find yourself locked into a years plus commitment. No matter how great the price tag, if you don’t use your membership you’re losing twofold - both on money lost, and the motivation to exercise.
Choosing a quality gym will be invaluable once you start using it, and when you break down the time and money spent, choosing a gym that you actually attend vs. one you do not will actually narrow the cost margin significantly.
What to look for:
  • Proximity - Choosing a gym that’s minutes from home or work ensures that you get there. If it’s a 5-10 minute drive or walk, your time commitment is reduced to your workout. Being able to pass it coming to and from work encourages you to fit working out into your schedule.
  • Good locker room - No one wants to bathe in a dirty shower. A comfortable changing room makes transitioning to your next destination effortless. One that offers towels and shampoo ensures that even when you’re rushed or have forgotten your gym bag, there’s no excuse not to jump on the treadmill.
  • Linked to a healthy restaurant or cafe - When faced with the choice of working out vs. eating, we’re more likely to spend our lunch break acquiring food. Having a built in restaurant allows you to work out for 30 minutes and still have time to sit down for a soup or salad, or pick something up on the go.
  • Qualified competent staff - While we all know we need exercise, it can come as quite a surprise to find that we don’t know what to do. Having well trained associates who are happy and willing to assist you in figuring out the facility can make the difference between learning how to use equipment that might otherwise be passed over. Knowing your gym is staffed with qualified, certified trainers means that if you find you’re not making the strides you’d expected, you can easily hire someone to set up a program for you that will help you meet your goals.
  • Plentiful working equipment - It should go without saying, but if your gym doesn’t have enough machines, you can lose a significant amount of time waiting on equipment, particularly during peak hours. If the machines do not work effectively, you run the risk of injury as well as inconvenience.
  • Class variety - We don’t always know what kind of exercise we’re into when we join a gym. A gym that offers a variety of classes can introduce you to enjoyable and playful modes of working out that you may or may not have ever considered. Whether it be Zumba, Yoga, Spin or Water Aerobics, having class options can be fun, motivating and  inspirational and takes the pressure off you to figure out your next move - just show up and follow along.
  • Quality daycare - Joining a gym, for a parent, can be a fabulous way to get back in shape, take some time for yourself, and meet other parents or families with children the same ages as yours. However, every parent will tell you that if your child doesn’t like the daycare, you can forget about working out. A gym with a great childcare facility may seem more expensive at first, but if you factor in how much you would spend on a sitter, the frequency in which you are able to use the gym if childcare is provided, plus the added incentive of providing your child with a structured social environment while making time for yourself, then the cost can be pennies on the dollar.
  • Good hours - Above all else, when it comes to choosing a gym, your gym needs to be available to you during the times that you are available to work out. Aside from doing jumping jacks on the curb, a gym’s not going to be good for you if you can’t get in the door. 

This list may seem luxurious, and clearly not all of these will pertain to your needs. The important thing is to truly evaluate your situation before signing a contract because even a small monthly premium can add up to big losses if you’re locked into a facility that you never use - And we want to see all losses on your waistline, not your pocketbook.