Fitness 5 Tips to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Gym By Sports Medicine, February 7, 2015 Whether you’re looking for a healthier lifestyle, rehabilitating from a medical condition, or just want to look good in a bathing suit, joining a health club or a gym can play a major role in meeting your personal goals. The question is which one is right for you? Taking a moment to consider a few factors can help ensure that your experience is both physically and emotionally rewarding. Choosing the right gym for your personal workout style can go a long way towards keeping you focused on your health goals. By contrast, a gym that isn’t quite the perfect fit can distract you from getting in a great workout and have a negative impact on your fitness goals. Before you sign on the dotted line, there are a few things you should consider. Things like location, special services, the style of equipment, the atmosphere or environment, and cost of membership all play a role in your satisfaction. Talk To Your Doctor Before starting any exercise program, you should consult your physician, which can have two advantages. First, you and your physician can discuss why you want or need to join a club or gym. Second, your physician may even be able to provide you with some advice on which one is right for you. Weight management, lowering blood pressure or cholesterol levels, improving general overall health, stress reduction, or better mental health are all reasons people become members. Location As with real estate, location is the first rule of health club or gym shopping. Considering one close to your home or work can be helpful. The more convenient the location, the more likely you are to use it and stick with the program. Once you’ve identified a few facilities near your home or work, schedule a tour for around the same time you’ll likely be working out to see how busy it is and if the equipment you want is available. For example, if you’re most interested in cardio machines, you may want to consider a club or gym with a large supply of available treadmills and bikes. Similarly, if weight training and strength training interests you, check to be sure your potential gym has a nice mix of free weights, machines, and benches to help you carve out a strength training regimen. Special Services If you’re someone who likes to take a break from the routine, a club or gym that provides special services, such as aerobic and martial arts classes, or a certified personal trainer, pools, tennis courts, hot tubs or saunas. You may even find a one that offers day care while you work out. Extra options and the ability to switch things up can keep you on-track and keep your workout routine from feeling stale and boring. Environment Make sure the facility is socially comfortable for you. Some people may not mind a coed gym, but others may feel more comfortable and confident in a women-only or men-only environment. If it is coed, ask if there are women-only or men-only nights or special areas. Cost Cost can be a major deterrent for some, but with a little research and by asking the right questions, you may be able to minimize your initial investment. Ask about family or group rates or corporate discounts, and you can even check with your health insurer for healthcare insurance discounts. Find out if you must sign a yearly or monthly contract and if there are penalties for early termination, and ask about enrollment fees and if they can be waived. Finally, ask for a trial membership or pass, which will give you time to determine if you’ve chosen the right club or gym before you sign a long, costly contract.