I had to give up my gym membership at the end of December, much as I LOVED my gym, it was close to my old office and now was no longer going to be convenient. I’m currently looking for a new gym, which had me thinking about what I look for in a gym, and how to choose the best one for you!
For me the most important factor when choosing a gym is the convenience. Is it close to home or close to work? If I have to go out of my way to get there then I’m far more likely to make excuses and not go. I had to walk past my old gym twice a day on the way from the tube to the office, this reminded me to visit if I hadn’t for a few days, and was close enough to go during my lunch break. Getting there quickly is crucial to ensure you can make it to classes on time.
Have a look at the equipment, do they have everything that you would want to use? I would always recommend asking for a guest pass and visiting your gym of choice at a time that you are most likely to use it if you became a member. I hate a really, really busy gym where you leave feeling more stressed than when you arrived. Clean, modern, state of the art facilities are key for me, whilst you might be happy with a treadmill and a set of hand weights- ensure that your gym suits your needs.
Do you like taking classes at the gym? I know I do, so I ensure that the classes that I like to take are firstly on offer, and secondly on the timetable at times that coincide with when I’ll be able to go to the gym. For example, are the classes early enough for you to get to them before work and still be at your desk on time? Are the sessions after work early/late enough for you to make it there? If you love Body Pump, do they have that or something similar on the timetable?
In the UK it seems that many gyms don’t open until 7am and shut at 9pm. If this doesn’t fit with the hours that you were hoping to workout then it’s obviously not the right gym for you! I like exercising in the morning, so a gym that opens by 6.30am is perfect for me however I don’t usually use them in the evenings.
I am too lazy to bring my own towel to the gym and hate having to pay extra for a towel. My perfect gym has unlimited towels, hairdryers, straighteners and shampoo/conditioner in the showers. OH and good showers that don’t involve huge queues are really important to me. You can often get cheaper gym memberships to establishments where these extras aren’t included, which can be brilliant for those on a budget and that don’t mind having to be a little more organised bringing their own toiletries etc. Or if you can join a gym very close to home meaning you can shower and get ready at home then that’s ideal!
I can’t afford a PT, however it can be handy when gyms have them on hand to answer questions about performing a move correctly or how to use a machine. A lot of gyms also include PT sessions as an incentive to join- this is definitely worth looking out for!
Gym costs can be incredibly reasonable or prohibitively high. I know my old gym was on the higher end of the spectrum, however I worked out the cost per visit I was willing to pay and made sure I went enough. I personally see my health and fitness as an investment so I’m happy to spend more than others might, knowing I get my moneys worth there. I also always check to see if they do a discount if you work/live nearby, or if they are doing any special offers. I hate having to pay joining fees or admin fees when I don’t have to. Remember some gyms also offer discounts if you join with your partner (Tom is trying to get me to join his gym this year to reduce his costs, and so that we can go together!).
Proximity is EVERYTHING. I am full of pipe dreams about taking the subway to a workout but it never happens, or at least not happily or habitually.
Gyms can be so expensive, especially in London I discovered. I joined the cheapest one that offered my basic requirements (including some pump classes). It might not be the fanciest but it’s ok. I’d love to join one of the fancier ones with all the things you listed included- I’ve never had that!
I’m going through this decision process at the moment and it’s so hard to choose – thanks for the important reminders of what to look for!
I’m considering joining the gym at my work at the moment and this is great reminder.
I’ve just discovered your fab blog and thought I’d chip in here in case of any latecomers to the debate like me! I’ve been a member of a mid-range club, a high end gym (with all the facilities that you mention) and now a council-run sports centre which is BASIC but half the cost of the high end gym! I used the first one a lot, barely the second one and use my local sports centre loads – I must get my membership cost back 4x per month compared to if I paid individually for classes and sessions. The other good thing is that I have access to all the centres in my authority area within that cost making it really flexible so there’s never an excuse not to go.
For me, the quality and choice of classes is most important but also the atmosphere within the place. I love that I know all the staff and they’re all super supportive and fun. Also, because it’s a council facility I take my wee girl there for her activities and I think it’s great for her to see me being active and getting into the habit of going there as part of her week. I guess I’m just lucky – although it’s seriously in need of an upgrade. That being said, free towels and luxury showers with complimentary products would be amazing…
LOVE your blog, thanks for sharing x
The first thing that I always consider about the rght gym for me is, the price because who would want pricey fitness gyms though?!lol Second is the equipments and third is uncroded because I don;t really like too crowded gym. Great post though Charlie! Just like JDP Fitness in London http://jdpfitness.com/london-personal-trainers
Love the advice! Especially regarding personal trainers. I’m a personal trainer/strength coach myself, but it really upsets me how people think they have to pay purely for advice! A message to everyone out there, if you see a personal trainer, ask away!