10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Gym

If you are a beginner like myself or a seasoned gym rat, choosing a gym is an important decision to be made and there are lots of things to consider. As the saying goes, “location, location, location”, but it’s more than just that. There are costs involved, contracts to be signed, hours of operation and if you’re a mom, what about the child care options. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a gym, and it should be done only after careful consideration.

I’m on a journey towards a healthy lifestyle filled with vibrancy and vitality. Most recently, I have made the decision and committed to a gym membership after serious contemplating. Exercise was the missing piece to my puzzle.

Significant changes over the last several months in my eating and lifestyle choices have been made but until now I was not mentally ready to join a gym.

The year was 1981 and Olivia Newton John zoomed to the top of the music charts with her song, Let’s Get Physical which inspired everyone to join a gym, sign up for gym class and wear spandex. Me, I was in Grade nine and (mandatory) gym class later ended ended for me in 1985. Not to mention, Participation.

Folks, it’s now 2008!

During my recent tours of various fitness facilities, the following are the top considerations I had to make before signing my contract

10 Things to Consider When Choosing A Gym

1 Atmosphere You’re going to spend a good portion of your time and money here so make sure it feels right to you. When a friend and I started looking for a gym I felt incredibly intimidated by one such gym with the amount of grunting, groaning and amount of posturing that went on in front of some of the mirrors. Make sure you get good vibes and feel comfortable the moment you walk into the door. Think of it this way, why would you spend your time or money going somewhere that you don’t enjoy? If you don’t consider this, your money will be wasted.

2 People A gym is like any other business, it’s there to make money. No matter how good the product is, it’s the people that can make or break a business. What is their interaction with others when you check out the gym(s) to make your choice? Are there many staff around when you need to ask questions? Can you connect with them or are they unapproachable? Do they have the qualifications? I actually interviewed the manager of the gym we chose and discovered she had been with this company for 25 years! She showed passion, enthusiasm and genuine interest in us when we met.

3 Cost What is your budget for exercise? We all want the most for our dollar but it shouldn’t be the driving force for you when it comes to deciding which gym you will choose. Ask lots of questions: Can I use this gym anywhere it is located in the city or is it this gym only? What is the cost of a drop in fee? What is the cost of a personal trainer? Am I being charged a membership fee as well as a monthly fee? What are my different options regarding price and/or payment? Ask for a complimentary pass to try out the gym before you make your final decision and I am sure that no one will say no. Shop around if price is one of the things preventing you from joining a gym or health club. One way you could save money is if your employer is offered discounts for their employees.

4 Location Did you choose where you live because of the location? Ask yourself where your doctor, dentist, grocery store, school or bank are located? Most likely, nearby. If it’s inconvenient getting to the gym, it’s going to be easy to start using it as an excuse not to go. I knew that if I chose a gym that was hard to get to that I wouldn’t go. So, I chose a gym that is a fifteen minute walk from my home which I use as my warm up.

5 Hours When do you plan to workout? Do the hours of the gym meet your needs? Take note of gyms with limited hours which might include evenings and weekends. I’m not a 9-5 person so I had to make sure that they had extended hours in the evening and were open on weekends. If their schedule doesn’t work with yours, you’ll soon have an excuse for not using your membership.

6 Maintenance Take a look at the equipment to ensure it runs smoothly and everything you think you will need to workout with is readily available. What is the quality of the equipment and is it current equipment? Is it regularly maintained? Is it clean? Is there enough space between you and others working out? You don’t want to lose your personal space.

7 Co-Ed or Not Everyone reacts to others differently, and exercising should be done in a place where you feel comfortable. As a woman, I enjoy exercising in a same sex gym and since I’m a beginner, I don’t want to exercise where I might feel embarrassed or intimidated. The choice is yours.

8 Change rooms. Locker rooms. Are they clean? Do they offer facilities that you will use? IE , showers, sauna, lockers. After making it to the gym, I realized I didn’t bring along a lock so for twenty five cents I could rent a locker complete with key to keep my personal items safe.

9 Classes. Where are your interests? What classes do they offer? If you are a beginner are they offering more intermediate or advanced classes that aren’t at your skill level? Are classes included in your membership or additional? Are classes offered when you are available to take them?

10 Contract Many gyms require a yearly contract as well as a monthly fee. What happens if you are unable to use your membership due to illness or injury? Does the contract protect you or the company? There are many things to consider so make sure to read the contract in full before you sign on the dotted line especially the fine print that can be quickly overlooked.

Today is only the beginning.

I accomplished what I had set out to do and instead of falling asleep on the couch at 9:00 PM I find myself alert and energized well into the early morning hours.

Tax Deductible Gym Memberships

My challenge to you this week is to act now and make gym memberships tax deductible in Canada!

According to Dave Hardy, President of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada, “The financial incentive offered by a federal adult fitness tax credit will encourage nearly one million more Canadians to get active and healthier,” said Hardy. “These healthier Canadians will need less health care and miss less work due to illness.”

Extending the program to include adults is not only good for the personal health of Canadians but also the financial health of the country. We urge the government to act quickly on this important initiative.

When Canadians were polled in 1997, more than three in five Canadians supported the idea of expanding the existing federal Children’s Fitness Tax Credit to include all Canadians over the age of sixteen.

Contact your local MP and Minister of Finance through the following link and make your voice be heard!

For details, read more about the Adult Fitness Tax Credit

Have a great week!

–Christina

5 Comments

  1. This come in handy, since I’m thinking of changing my gym because there is no air conditioning there. And sometimes it’s full, and other times there noone there. Great post!

  2. Well I for one don’t have a whole lot of choice in regarding to choosing a gym. I’m using my local council gym, which isn’t bad really. We have good machines and good instructors and the times of days I go, it isn’t ever full!

    One day I hope to have the cash to be able to opt for a gym of my choice, but today, I’m happy to go to a gym.

  3. Re: tax deductible gym memberships
    I don’t disagree with the principles behind this – i.e. rewarding health-enhancing behaviours. But there are all kinds of problems with it: Many people who join a gym rarely or never use it, or use it ineffectively: Joining the gym does NOT necessarily equal improved health. Also, I’m not convinced that offering a tax credit will truly encourage people to join a gym or sport anyway – I doubt it’s a significant enough amount of money to get people off their asses, just like the public transit tax credit isn’t going to get people on buses and subways. Lasting motivation to exercise generally comes from within. Such a tax credit only benefits people who would join a gym regardless. I’m not necessarily against this, but believing the tax credit is something that will get Canadians moving is just naive. Furthermore, what about people who exercise at home and/or outdoors? Can you get tax credits for your running shoes and home fitness equipment? I’m betting not. In sum, the whole gym tax credit notion is nothing more than lip service to the idea of encouraging a healthy lifestyle among Canadians, not real action.

  4. Jorge, thanks for your comments. Your words are written with conviction and passion. Written by someone who is passionate about health and exercise no doubt. I like that.

    I had to smile when you mentioned about people having a gym membership and not even using it because a friend of mine comes to mind.

    As for lip service, perhaps so. The government has been trying to offer options for Canadians to get healthy. Ie, special programs, the revival of Participacation, etc. The key point of my article was to take action and offer readers something to consider.

    Sure, we can talk about doing this and doing that but if we don’t take action then our words are pointless. Ultimately, it is up the individual. Yes, as you said, lasting motivation, it comes from within.

    I’m gathering my motivation as an adult.

    Christina

  5. Hey Christina! I’ve gotta say that this post brings back a lot of memories. I especially like numbers 1 and 2. As you might notice, being comfortable in a gym where I do my daily workouts takes priority over the others. Even if I’m not a woman, I do feel intimidated by some of the gyms I’ve tried where large guys dominate the scene and take up most of the space. I don’t know if I can explain it properly, but sometimes it makes me feel inadequate and uneasy being around them.

    The quality of people handling the gym (staff and trainers) also ranks high in my book. I’ve had my share of both good and bad staff members, so I make a point of observing the staff in a gym before I make a long term commitment.

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