Monday, January 5, 2015

Choosing the right gym: Healthy Habits 2015

People are running in droves to sign up for a gym membership, hoping that they will be able to meet their 2015 resolutions.  Okay, maybe not.  Maybe they are just walking.  Or driving, perhaps.  Regardless, I know that January is the busiest time for the membership sales folks at the gyms.


The question is . . . 

How do you pick the right gym?!

Most of us have many options, and figuring out the best one can be a chore.  Reading reviews, talking to friends, paying attention to the New Year's deal . . . all good things.  Before you decide, though, consider these things:

1.  Location.  Is it convenient to your home, work, school, or anywhere you go?  If not, it may not be the best place even if it is the best place.  You know what I mean?  If it's hard for you to get out of the house, it will be even harder if you have to drive across town.  Make it easier on yourself and choose a gym that is convenient.

2.  What do you want to do?  If it is swimming, check out the pools.  Some are too warm, some too cold.  Find what you like.  If you like classes, make sure the schedule lines up with the things you enjoy.  If you want good cardio and weight machines, make sure there is good, updated equipment.  If you wan to play tennis, check out the courts.

3.  Who's going to use it?  How much does it cost to add your spouse?  Your kids?  Do you have a family?  I'm unashamedly a "Y" girl.  I love the Y and all it stands for.  I love that I can bring my family and that my kids can swim, play ball, go to kids fitness classes . . .What if you want to work out, but you have kids?  Do they have a childcare available?  How much is it?  Does it add a significant cost to your plan?  Do you feel comfortable leaving your children there?

4.  Price.  I'm all for staying in the budget.  That being said, do not let this be your primary driving factor.  If you can find what you want at the cheapest gym in town, go for it!  In most cases, you will get what you pay for, although there are exceptions.  Watch for hidden costs.  Is there a joining fee?  What is the month-to-month?  Is there a long commitment for the lesser price?  What does it cost if you break a long contract?  Don't get caught in something that will cost you more in the end.  It may be worth paying MORE month to month at a gym you're not sure you're going to use, so you can switch or cancel at any time.  Also, you can chose a get-in, get-out kind of gym if that's what you want.  If you are wanting a social community, a place to connect or be involved, a place for your family, consider the extra cost to get a family membership at a place like the Y.  There are other gyms out there that have excellent community as well.  Get the free 1 week passes and discover what you like.

5.  Atmosphere & Cleanliness.  Is it the kind of place you want to be?  Are the people friendly?  Does it feel like a meat market?  Do you like separate men's & women's workout areas?  Is it clean?  Keep in mind it's a gym and it may smell like it, but do you see people keeping the areas picked up, safe, and nice?

6.  Where do you want your money going?  Does this matter to you?  Do you want to support gyms like the Y that are non-profit and give back to the community?  Do you want to support a locally owned gym?  Is it important to you that it is a chain that has certain feel and that you can visit other locations when you travel?

7.  Who's there?  Do you have friends with whom you can attend classes or meet up for a workout?  Do you have certain instructor from whom you enjoy taking classes?  Do you feel comfortable when you walk in the door?  When you look around, do you see people with whom you could possibly be friends?  If you feel uncomfortable, check out a different place.  It's okay!  Find a place you want to be!

8.  Amenities.  What are you going to want?  Personal training?  Weight loss advice?  Sauna?  Hot tub?  Steam room?  Tanning?  Child care?  Food?  Towels?  Lockers?  Showers?  Little things can make a big difference.

I hope you find the right place for you and good luck meeting your goals!

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