You may have seen our article about how to exercise without a gym but some of you are looking for the heavy weights, fitness classes and fancy treadmills. If you want to improve your workout routine, joining a gym is a great way to maximize your fitness goals.
If it’s your first time joining a gym, you may not know what to expect. Scott & White wellness specialist, Alexander Hainzinger, shares some tips on what to look for when selecting a gym.
Checklist for the perfect gym:
1. Nearby Location
Getting out the door is sometimes the hardest part about going to the gym. Find out what gyms are close to home or the office. You will want to choose a gym that is close to your home or office and not on the other side of town.
“On the days you are on a tight schedule, having a gym close by will make things easier on your crazy schedule,” says Hainzinger. “Having a gym between your home and office is best.”
2. Comfortable Atmosphere
Selecting a gym that makes you feel comfortable is important.
“You want an environment where you feel relaxed, not feel intimidated or out of place,” says Hainzinger.
Every gym is different. Some gyms attract a younger crowd while other attracts older and/or families. It would be a good idea to visit the gym during the time(s) you are likely to work out to get a better feel of what to expect.
If you are exercising in a gym, you may be worried about the cleanliness. As you look over and see a man running 10 miles, with the sweat dripping from his forehead, you may wonder if anyone ever cleans off that treadmill.
“Cleanliness will become clear during your first visit to the gym,” says Hainzinger. “You want a gym that enforces good hygiene.”
During your tour of the facility, keep a look out to see if the gym has:
- Clean towels
- Spray bottles around the facility
- Signs posted on equipment or walls that require members to clean off the equipment once they are finished
- Clean showers, sauna, pool, toilets, sinks, lockers, showers, etc.
If the facility and equipment is clean and well taken care of, most likely the gym is managed properly and implements cleanliness. This way, you don’t have to worry about your sweaty workout neighbors.
4. Maintained Equipment
Gyms provide a variety of state-of-the-art exercise machines and fitness equipment for you to use. It can be one of the major benefits for going to a gym.
If you’re looking for a gym, be sure to find one that offers a variety of machines for both strength training (like weights) and cardio workouts (like treadmills or elliptical machines). Another thing to keep in mind, is if the gym has enough for everyone to use? Some machines are more popular and can fill up quickly, especially if the gym is busy.
“You want to have some availability to use these machines even during the peak hours of operation,” says Hainzinger. “If they don’t, you might end up waiting to use equipment.”
No one likes to wait, and no one likes old, abused equipment either. You’ll want a gym that takes care of the equipment and puts your gym membership fee to good use.
5. Offers Fitness Classes or Reasonable Hours
Some gyms are open anytime, but others have specific hours. Know the hours of operation and make sure they work with your schedule. If you are working out early in the morning or leaving your belongings overnight, make sure you can lock up your personal items in a locker of some kind.
Most gyms provide exercise classes designed to fit your individual needs or interests. Gyms often provide classes like yoga, zumba, cycling or other total body workouts. These are usually included in the membership fee, but it is important to check with the gym. These classes are energetic, upbeat and fun and they can even provide the extra support and modifications to meet your needs.
Why Go to a Gym?
Membership at a gym can give you a sense of belonging and provide a number of exercise benefits. If you learn how to use the equipment or take advantage of the classes, going to a gym may be the right fit for you.
Despite the benefits, some people prefer to avoid the gym. “Most of the time people don’t like to workout at the gym because they feel overwhelmed, intimidated by equipment, or don’t like to work out around people,” says Hainzinger.
He adds that working out alongside others can be especially overwhelming if you’re next to someone who is very fit and you may be overweight. Consider getting a gym with a personal trainer or a friend you can work out with. This will ease the transition and help you feel more comfortable with the equipment.