Gym choice: What do I need to consider when joining?

Picture of gym equipment

Deciding to even consider joining a gym, let alone which gym to select from the myriad of options that exist, is a complex business. In a crowded market searching for the next niche, it can be tough to find the right gym. Our gym-going habits, needs and tastes have changed over the years, as have the typical consumers. So, when considering the type of gym for you and your lifestyle, you should explore the different gym types, the price and membership options as well as the location. After all, this has got to work for you and your, probably, busy lifestyle.

What sort of gym is going to suit me best?

This can go in one of two ways, either you risk being faced by a bewildering array of names, options and types because you are in an urban environment or choice is removed from your decision-making process given your penchant for the remote, rural lifestyle. In urban, and increasingly more rural, locations we are faced with a plethora of options from the big chains, spit-and-sawdust bodybuilding type places, small personal training outlets, gender-specific class orientated spaces, boxing clubs, the local council gym and the list goes on! If you are serious about getting in shape, irrespective of your goal, then choosing the right gym for your lifestyle is very important.

If your goal is some general fitness and access to a range of facilities, then perhaps you should investigate your local council or big chain gym to see what they have to offer, and if it suits you. Whereas if you are a class only sort of person then it is worth looking at spin studios or yoga retreats, if that’s part of your health and fitness regime. Whereas if you are serious about building muscle, i.e. body building, it is highly likely that you have already been a member of a big chain of gyms and are in the market for something else, perhaps something to complement your existing routine, so I would recommend looking for a personal training studio or gym group where this is the focus.

The gym that you select really has to be orientated towards your goals, which is what I did last year when I re-joined. I wanted somewhere that I could feel comfortable and not just be a number on a computer, so I joined a small gym in my local high street. It’s a blend of a lot, but still retains its own identity as it’s part of a franchise, I get some personal care and attention because of their revue system, I can have personal training and attend classes if I like. It’s full of a diverse range of people and more than anything, it suits my goals!

How much do you want to spend on your membership?

This can vary so much from person to person, if you are asking yourself this question in January after a gluttonous and over-indulgent holiday season, chances are you might be prepared to pay a lot to transform yourself ready for that beach holidays you have booked for the summer. However, the cost of gym membership should be a careful consideration and needs to fit with your expectations and amount of disposable income available for this sort of spending. Most gym types, particularly the bigger chains, have a range of options and price points. See what is going to suit you, and do your research, do you really need the full-service peak membership when in reality you are only going to go in the evening or at the weekend?

If you are price sensitive, then looking at your local council gym or leisure centre is often a cost-effective option, whilst some are in need of some refurbishment, due to heavy use, you can still achieve your goals. Or even the gym chains that have no personnel costs, just a code to log in, it’s worth seeing if it suits you. There are a lot of options that are at gyms and sometimes it is best to go and chat to someone but beware of upfront joining costs and being tied in for a certain amount of time. Personally, I avoid this like the plague, I like the freedom to come and go as it suits me and to be honest if I give up half way through, I don’t want to continue paying for it! Be bold, be brave, ask for them to waive the joining fee, you will be surprised what you can get if you barter a little.

Where should I go to the gym?

Whilst this can seem like a slightly obvious answer, I don’t think it is, certainly if your time is tight. For most of us, it will be a gym that is either close to home or to a place of work, for the sake of convenience. Yet, there will be those that are very tight on time and will look to join a large network of gyms so that they can use one near their place of work during the week and one at home at the weekend. Although, these people might like to mix and match their gym types for home and away to get that much needed variety. It is something I have been tempted with, but I have started to push myself to get to my gym at home during the week, even though it is late, and my gym closes quite early, and that is another reality we face, the need to push ourselves to make time for health and exercise if it truly does matter to us.

Navigating the plethora of time, place and type questions that are linked to gym choice can be daunting, but don’t let it take over more thinking than doing time. Make a decision and then if you aren’t happy or it doesn’t suit your work and life, including its balance, then make a change as you don’t want to be one of the millions that pay endlessly for gym membership and never use it!

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