The Ultimate Joining-a-New-Gym Checklist

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
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The time has come: You’re ready to get into shape, and you’re looking for a new gym. How do you know which one to join? Don’t let your excitement (or a sales rep) lead you to joining the wrong place.

Take your time and go through this checklist for joining a gym. It’s important to really get to know your fitness needs to make sure you choose the best one for you. After all, if the atmosphere is intimidating, the gym is out of the way or the classes are boring, you’re not going to be motivated to go. Not only will the right gym help you achieve your goals, but it can become a place you look forward to going for years to come.

1. IS IT CONVENIENT?

Face it: If the gym you’re considering isn’t conveniently located close to work or home, you probably won’t go.

If you’re tired after work (or have to fight traffic to get to the gym), it’s easier to go back home and relax. But if your new gym is conveniently located, you can get a workout without wasting time or energy.

Also, if you have a gym that’s close to you, you have fewer excuses to skip your training!

2. WHAT’S THE VIBE?

The gym you enjoy is the one that feels like home. Look around and ask yourself:

  • Is the front desk staff friendly and welcoming?
  • Are staff members busy in the gym with clients and walking around helping out guests?
  • How’s the music?
  • Is the gym crowd too soft or too hardcore for you?
  • Is this the place that will motivate you to be there and get to work?

Think about the overall vibe in the room: If it resonates with you, it could be the right choice.

3. HOW ARE THE CLASSES? HOW IS THE EQUIPMENT?

Depending on whether you’re going the group exercise route, the weights route or both, your gym needs the correct schedule and equipment to match your needs. For example, if you plan on doing indoor cycling classes before work, see about testing one out before committing.

If you plan on lifting, take a look at the size of the weight room. Then, as you search for the equipment you want, analyze its condition. Ideally, you should look for newer conditions. Gym equipment can be used by hundreds of people each day, which causes lots of wear and tear. It’s usually a good sign when gyms strive to keep their machines up to date, fully functional and safe.

Finally, if possible, visit your potential gym during peak hours to see if there’s enough equipment available for you to workout without the wait.


READ MORE > 7 MAJOR HEALTH TRENDS: STILL HOT OR NOT?


4. WHAT AMENITIES DOES THE GYM HAVE (THAT YOU’LL ACTUALLY USE)?

If you like working out before going to work, you’ll probably need a shower. Ask yourself: Does this potential gym have conveniences like towel service, soap, shampoo and lockers? Those things could be essential to you if you’re going straight to work.

But if you like to work out and return home, showers and locker rooms might not be as important; as a result, you might opt for a less-expensive gym membership that doesn’t offer these amenities.

If you don’t plan to use a gym’s sauna, shower, pool, basketball court or other special amenities, it might be better to choose a simpler gym and save some money.

5. IS IT CLEAN?

From heavy objects to germs, a gym can be an unsafe place. Here are some things you should look for:

  • Are staff members wiping down equipment throughout the day?
  • Are the locker rooms, bathrooms and showers clean?
  • Are free weights and other equipment put back in their appropriate locations?
  • Is there a policy that states personal items, such as gym bags, must be left in the locker rooms?

When you tour a gym, don’t just look at the surface level. Inspect the locker rooms, go into the bathrooms and shower stalls. (If you’re going to use the pool and sauna, check their cleanliness, too.)

Also, keep in mind that two gyms of the same franchise can be very different. One gym might be clean and organized while the other isn’t. It depends on the staff and clientele so, if you can, try to visit multiple gyms before you make your decision.

6. DOES IT FIT YOUR BUDGET?

I put budget last on this checklist because you shouldn’t make your decision on price alone: A gym that feels like home, inspires you and helps you achieve your goals is worth every penny.

Instead, before you sign your contract, consider the cost and how it aligns with your budget and training. For example, if you’re a serious gym-goer who trains five times a week, you might be more willing to pay for a more expensive gym to get all the amenities and equipment you want. And since you’re going there all the time, the little things (friendliness, convenience, sauna, etc.) could mean much more.

But if only go to a gym once a week, a simpler, less-expensive gym might make more sense based on your usage, even if you really want the fancy stuff. Why? Some people think by paying for a pricey gym, it’ll motivate them to train more often so they don’t “waste their money” — but in my experience, working at a expensive gym, that rarely works.


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About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.

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