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How do I choose a gym?

When choosing a gym several factors should be considered. The first and most important thing to consider is the location. Studies have shown that people will not continue to visit a gym that is too far away, generally speaking try to find a gym within 15 minutes of your house or work if you plan on going after work or on lunch. The next thing to consider is what you will be using the gym for and what you want out of the gym. A gym that offers lots of options you won’t or don’t use is just extra money you’re spending for nothing. If a good cardio area is your goal, find a gym that has a nice selection of equipment, if weight training is most important find a gym with a large well laid out weight area, if fitness classes are a goal find a gym with a good selection of classes. It’s important to visit the gym during the peak time of the day or during  the time of day you plan on working out to get a good idea of how busy the gym will be, and if you’ll have to wait for equipment. Try out a few gyms before selecting one as several gyms will probably have different combos of what you seek. 
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Think about these points when choosing a gym:

  • Try it out. Most reputable clubs will allow you to work out free at least once before joining. That way you can test the equipment and the atmosphere. Do your workout at the time of day that you normally plan to work out to see how crowded the club gets and how long you would have to wait for machines.
  • Find out about classes. Ask to see a class schedule and talk to some instructors. Find out if classes are free with your membership.
  • Find out if someone is regularly on staff to answer questions about your workout. Good gyms will have someone available to teach you how to use all of the equipment properly for free. Find out, too, if your gym has personal trainers who can take you through your workout. This usually involves a fee (be particular who you choose as your trainer -- in most city clubs, the fee for a personal trainer is thirty-five to eighty dollars an hour). Although you might not want to use a trainer all the time, having a pro look at your workout every once in a while can do wonders to improve your technique.
  • Join a gym that is close to your home or work. Fitness club gurus have what they call the "twelve-week/twelve-mile" hypothesis: Most people who join will work out for only the first twelve weeks of their membership, and only if the club is less than twelve miles from their home or office. Find a place that's close and convenient.
  • Consider the atmosphere. Pick a gym where you feel comfortable. Look at the individuals who go there and think about how you would feel working out among them. Maybe working out with the "twenty-somethings" makes you strive for more. Or maybe you prefer a place that offers classes designed particularly for people over sixty. Some clubs are geared exclusively or primarily to women, and others are more geared to men. Shop around and decide what best fits you.
  • Check out the equipment. Does it look new? Is it of good quality? Is it what you need for your workout? Don't believe promises about new equipment that's coming in "next week." I prefer a club that not only has the equipment I like, but also the equipment I might use if I develop an injury. So if a club does not have several unused elliptical machines and several unused rowing machines at the time I am most likely to exercise, I recommend choosing another club.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.