Choosing Your Gym
If you are lucky enough to have the agony of choice about which gym you should go to then it's a much more important choice to make than you might think. It's not necessarily a matter of which gym is smarter or impresses you more. Your gym should match not only what you want but it should also erode some of the indirect reasons why you might not exercise when you have 'one of those days'.
So how do we decide which gym to go to?
Well firstly the premier thing we look at is...(drum roll)....THE PRICE! Gym memberships are just as or even more expensive than your monthly phone tarrif and you use your phone more than most things you own (maybe even your own bed tsk tsk tsk). When seeing if the price matches what you get the simple way is to match up the price to what's on offer. Do you have a spacious gym that can handle a lot of people at a time? At peak times will you be waiting to use machines? If it's big enough then slap a big £20 on to your estimate. With your membership do you have access to free group sessions like boxing, spin etc? If yes then slap £20 more onto your estimate. Does it have a pool? If so slap another £15 (+£5 for some sort of spa service). Is it clean/to your cleaning standards? If it is add another £5 to your estimate. This is all a rough but in my opinion important guideline to have. don't let gyms fleece you into thinking that £100 is the going rate. It's not. There are perfectly good gyms that are about £28 a month. Get a gym which suits your needs; not theirs!!!
Now let's look at proximity; how far is your gym from you. Now it's easy to say the closest gym to you is your best bet. Well to you I say not necessarily. I agree that a gym should be easily accessible but in my opnion a gym can be any reasonable distance so long as you only have to use one mode of transport to get there. A 20 minute bus ride is just fine! A 10 minute train ride followed by a 10 minute bus journey is too much hastle. The reason I say this is because there could be a great gym not so far away from you, and it could be much better for you than the one 5 minute closer to you. For some people the act of taking a longer journey to get to the gym motivates people to do more in the gym because of how far they had to go to get there. Could you be one of those people? Give it a go.
When choosing your gym one of the main attractions/putt-offs is the staff. Are the staff friendly? Do they speak your language? Are they approachable? The person showing you round could be one of those people you can find in the gym or they could be from the sales department so don't be fooled. This is hard to assess as you are given a snapshot when you have a look round. To get the best vibe from the people who work in the gym go up and talk to them when you are looking round. Chat to the people not showing you round will often catch them off-guard and you can really get a taste of who the heck they are. Staff at a gym can be a great motivator or can put you off. This is important to get right.
Let's tackle the chain gyms head on. As someone who used to work in a chain gym I can tell you that the chain gyms do not pay their staff (fitness instructors, FOH) very well. the personal trainers vary on how long they work there because some chain gyms actualy fleece their PTs out of a lot of money. Some chains do not. It would be unprofessional of me to name which are which but the point of mentioning this is that a lot of chain gym staff will work with their pay in mind. Working on minimum wage means you will give minimum-wage effort. What this means is that whilst a chain gym might sound attractive the staff there might not live up to your standards; chain gyms are just numbers to their owners and so the sort of atmosphere you might thrive in might be absent in these sorts of gyms. If this is no issue for you then skip this bit of the article. If however this this something you take into consideration then I hope you take that into consideration when choosing your gym.
Gyms that offer free group sessions are a great asset to have. If you thrive in that sort of environment then a gym which has group sessions that you don't have to pay for (included in your membership fee) is for you! Don't underestimate the power of training in a group and sometimes they are fantastic sessions. You never know you might stumble into a Zumba class and love it from then on! Why not give it a go?
Gyms that offer a flexible membership are in my opinion very valuable. By this I mean if you can;t go to the gym for a a month because of holiday or injury etc you don't really want to pay a gym membership during that time; it is quite simply a waste of money. Gyms that are ok with you not paying for a month are good gyms! If you pay a lump sum then you will be wasting money because at some point you won't be able to go to the gym. It's like losing your phone for a month but still paying the phone bill. It's no different. If you can negotiate a monthly payment then do so because your money is precious and gyms love it if you don't turn up but still pay. More for them!
These are the main things to look out for when choosing your gym. Don't waste money because that could be the thing that actually makes you stop going to the gym. Make sure the gym compliments your style of play in exercise. Make friends with the staff, because if you can't then that's a real put-off in the long run. Make sure you are gym-smart. Choose wisely.