A few years ago, I stumbled across a great deal on a membership to the gym across the street from my house. At the time, I needed to make a change to my fitness routine and the value of this membership seemed too good to be true. The offer was for a two-year membership, including unlimited classes for a price that was equal to one year at the monthly rate. Imagining a skinnier, healthier version of myself, I jumped on it, even though I had never actually been to that gym.
Here’s were things start to go downhill. Once I started actually going to the gym, I discovered I didn’t like it. The classes are overly crowded, the people are pushy and inhospitable, and the locker rooms are woefully lacking. But, I’m a dedicated and committed saver, so I wasn’t going to let the money I had invested by wasted. Instead, I’ve stuck it out for two years. Now as the termination date of my membership approaches, I’m looking around for fresh options.
Any quest for a new gym must start with a list of priorities. What’s right for some fitness fanatics won’t be right for others. But, no matter what style of facility calls to you, there are some things everyone should keep in mind when weighting the options for gym memberships and touring potentials.
Quality of equipment
When my Nike running shoes and I step on to the elliptical machine, I expect it to work flawlessly. Gym equipment should be in perfect working condition, everything should move smoothly, there shouldn’t be any squeaking or grinding noises, the displays should be easy to read and the controls simple to operate. When you tour the facility prior to signing up, take a look at the condition of the machines. Are they pristine, or do they look clunky and worn out. Be sure to ask the staff how often machines are serviced and replaced. If you notice out-of-order signs on several pieces of equipment, consider that a big red flag.
Beyond machines and equipment, the best way to get your sweat on at the gym is in a group class. Before signing up, ask to see a few weeks worth of class schedules and inquire if classes stick to the same time slots or get moved around. Also be sure to find out if classes require a reservation or if they are a free for all. While an open invitation may work best for your schedule, attending classes that welcome a limited number of participants means more personalized instruction. In addition to the number of participants, consider the size of the room. If you are doing yoga in a cramped room you’ll barely have space for a Mountain pose, much less a Chaturanga. Keep in mind; you’ll need space to toss your yoga bag and slip off your Ugg boots or Converse shoes, in addition to an area for your mat.
Some people are fine with a no-frills spot to shower and change. Others expect the locker room to be a lush reward at the end of a strenuous workout. If you are the latter, look for a gym that features steam showers, saunas, and luxurious vanities for primping hair and applying makeup. Even if you are satisfied with meager changing areas, locker rooms should have secure storage. Once you change into your Spandex, you’ll need a spot to safely stash your real-world ensemble. If you are heading to the gym after work it will be especially important that you can hang your lovely silk blouse and pencil skirt and store your Boston Proper heels.