If your resolution for 2023 is to get in better shape, you’re not alone. Fitness consistently ranks as a top New Year’s resolution by Americans. There are many ways to improve fitness levels that don’t involve a gym membership. But for some it’s an easy way to establish accountability. Paying for a gym provides the incentive to use it. For those who will be choosing a gym in 2023, here are some points to consider for success.
Recommendations from friends and family
Ask friends and family about the gym they go to. What do they like and don’t like about the gym? Experts on starting new habits say that if you have a buddy to commit with, you are more likely to stick with it.
First consider gyms that are convenient to get to. Is it on your way to or from work or other commuting you do? Close to home so that you aren’t spending more time in the car than your workout?
Hours of operation
Is the gym open when you want to go? Some gyms have 24-hour access. Visit the area the gym is in during the times you are likely to go. Do you feel safe? Is there plenty of lighting? Check out crimemapping.com to see how many reports are recorded for the area.
Busy times: Ask what days and times are their busiest. Can you still complete the workout that you want to during that time? How flexible can you be about the times you hit the gym?
Child care: Is there child care available at the gym? Ask the same questions you would for your full-time child-care center. If included with membership, is there a limit on the amount of time you can utilize?
Parking: Plenty of parking? Lighting in the parking lot? Is the parking lot in good repair?
Follow medical advice when starting a program. Does the gym have personal trainers or other services that will help you get started and continue a program? Do they offer training on the equipment to get you started and/or ongoing coaching to assure you are using equipment properly? What are the credentials of the staff providing the training?
Trial pass and guest passes
Can you get a trial pass? Once you join, what is their guest policy?
Equipment, programs, and group exercise
Walk around: Likely the staff will give you a tour. After the official tour stick around for a while to make some observations. Are there out-of-order signs on equipment? Is there equipment you want to use?
Get a feel for the gym culture: How are members greeted when they arrive and leave? Do members interact with one another? (Even if you plan on getting in, working out and getting out on a limited timeframe, the atmosphere may make a difference to you.)
Cleanliness including the locker rooms: Dust bunnies on machines may be an indication of lack of cleaning or the machine is broken without an out-of-order sign. How do members “clean” equipment after use? Are bottles of cleaning spray and paper towels readily available? You know a clean locker room when you see one.
Group exercise: If you are interested in group classes (yoga, spin, cross training, pilates, stretching, etc.) find out what they offer – days of the week and times. Check the size of the room and the equipment available for the programs. Find out how the gym manages class size and availability of equipment. Are the times you are interested in full? Do people get turned away? What are the credentials of the people leading the class? How long have the class leaders been with the gym? How long has the manager been with the gym? (Like any business, staff turnover is a measure of quality.)
What are the fees? If someone referred you to the gym, does that person get a perk? Do you need to sign a contract or is it month to month? If you pay in advance, is there a discount?
Does the gym offer discounts for specific groups, such as government employees, veterans, health care workers, first responders, others? If you have Medicare, is the gym part of Silver Sneakers? Ask about pricing for individuals or family membership.
Are there circumstances where you can put your membership on hold, such as medical issues? Find out the specific rules.
Additional fees: Are there programs that charge for participation beyond the basic gym? Are lockers rented or free for use with your lock?
Joining a gym can be intimidating. Make a list of what is important to you. Working people have different needs than those who are retired. It is a financial commitment and a time commitment. Exercise has physical and mental benefits. Find what works for you and enjoy it.