Are All Gyms Created Equal?

The short answer is: No. Some gyms cost more than others! To find the perfect gym, this author sought expert advice.

When my first child, Dana, was born, I knew things would never be the same, especially financially. I also knew I might need to cut down on expenses, and unfortunately, my gym membership was among the first to go. Still, health and fitness remain a family priority. So while we stocked up on yoga and workout videos and affordable home gym equipment, I started scouting gyms with better deals that would work out my muscles and not my wallet. For expert advice, I talked to the top fitness coaches in the country. If you’re considering membership in a local gym, you’ll benefit from what they have to say.

Tommy Walse says…
Find a gym that’s near your home or office. You don’t want traffic eating out of your precious gym time, or provide you an excuse from skipping the workout. Check out parking spaces and accessibility to public transport.

Of course, the most important factor in gyms is their equipment. Do they have many sets of the equipment you want? Or will you have to wait your turn to use the cable machines and dumbbells? Do they have a wide variety of equipment so you can work out your whole body? Remember that your body has 7 major muscle groups and the gym should have equipment to work each of them. Are the machines too big for you? They should be adjustable to your size.

And you should never neglect safety. Trainers should always be available in case you need assistance. They should have a thorough knowledge of the human anatomy. A medical staff should also be there in cases of injury.

Most importantly, make sure the price is right. No matter if you are paying too much if the gym has poor service or lacks equipment, then you should start looking elsewhere.

Gail Waters says…
Find out what time is best for you to exercise and if the gym is open then. There are gyms out there that are open 24 hours a day. You should also find out what programs they offer so you can enjoy the experience. Make sure to ask if they offer dance, aero, tai-chi, martial arts or yoga classes.

Inspect locker rooms, shower areas and the entire gym floor. Make sure they look and smell clean. You don’t want to pick up germs when you pick up a barbell or kettle ball. Also see if the gym provides antibacterial wipes for members to clean the equipment.

If you travel a lot, ask if your membership give you open access to other branches. Pricey gyms boast of their equipment and facilities, but if you don’t swim or sauna why pay for it?

Gail also says “I think gym membership is not the be all and end all of fitness. You can exercise in the comfort of your home, engage in sports and other outdoor activities—anything that you find fun, motivating and rewarding. For me, it’s as simple as letting my dogs loose in the woods and running with them.”

Paul Monsalve says…
First, do you like it? Do you like the ambience? The lighting? Get a feel for the staff. If they look unhappy, they’re likely to be unhelpful, too, and you don’t want that.

Unless you’re a Hollywood celebrity, the sooner you accept that you will be sharing gyms with a lot other individuals, the more patient you’ll be. Your fellow gym members should inspire you to work out. They should also be courteous and respectful of your time and space.

When it comes to price, I don’t mind paying much for gym membership if I’m getting my money’s worth in terms of its service and equipment. But if you’re not getting ripped, then you’re only getting ripped off.

Generally, a decent gym will allow trial memberships or a one-day workout free. Test run the machines. Check for noise level and smoothness of carriage. Noisy machines can be unpleasant and irritating. Rough operation can and will cause injury. It’s an indication of poor quality.

Gym membership can be a source of motivation. To some, motivation is showing up at the gym and using the equipment and facilities because you paid good money for it. Otherwise, inquire about flexible payment plans to check if they can adjust fees for you in case you become sick for long or have to travel and can’t use the facilities as much. Check out terms of cancellation, too. Always, always read the fine print.

So buyer beware and pick a gym based on what’s important to you. Ultimately you need to decide if a gym is worth it for your budget. If like me you want a variety of equipment, an energetic atmosphere and lots of options then yes – the membership needs to be back in the budget!

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