A gym membership is both like and unlike a relationship—it’s like a relationship because you’re looking for the perfect match, and unlike one because you get to call all the shots. So we put together a few points to help you find a workout space that works out for you.
First, select a few gyms to “shop.” Go through a typical day and think about when you’re most likely going to have time to workout, and then proceed to where it would be convenient to have a gym. Is it close to home or just outside your work?
Have an idea of how much you are able to spend on membership fees. Keep in mind that more expensive doesn’t equal better satisfaction. The average is $30 and $50 a month. Some gyms charge more than $100 a month because they have more bells and whistles like pools or squash courts, but if you’re not going to use such facilities, you might as well not spend that much money.
When shopping for the perfect match, here are some things to keep an eye out for.
1. How many machines do they have and are they all working?
Popular machines include treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes. While it depends on how busy the gym is, a good benchmark is 3-5 of each. Also look to see if any are out of order, and ask how quickly the gym can fix broken machines.
2. When are the peak times, and how crowded does it get?
If the gym staff has a good grasp on when the gym gets busy, it shows they’re attentive. You want the staff to be a source of information and people on whom you can rely to address important issues. Also, having a general idea of when the gym gets crowded will help you plan when in the day you want to workout.
3. Do they have a time limit on machines?
This is a great way to ensure you can kick someone off a machine without actually kicking them off. But it’s not so great if you are someone who likes to do 30+ minutes of cardio. So if there are time limits, look around and see if people are heeding the time, or perceiving them as “guidelines.”
4. Do the locker rooms meet your standards?
Another area people miss is the locker room. Here, you’re seeing how quickly you can get in and out without waiting for other people.
- Does the locker layout give you enough space between you and the other patron?
- Do they offer hair dryers, and if so, how many?
- Are the showers clean? You might want to ask how often the gym cleans the space.
Of course, nothing speaks louder than experience. See if you can talk to some of the gym’s current members, who can give you a more real feeling of what the gym is like.
Happy gym hunting and good luck with your weight loss goal.
Photo courtesy of washingtonian.com.