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How to Choose a Gym

Gym membership is higher than ever before with many people deciding that now is the time to get in shape. As a result of this interest, there are literally thousands of gyms that have appeared, seemingly overnight, especially in the capital cities. Surprisingly, there are various types of gyms available with some ranging in cost, their target clientele and what services are on offer.

So if you have decided to join a gym and get on the fitness bandwagon, the very first decision...which gym to join? The key is finding out what it is you will want from your gym, otherwise you may end up never going due to lack of interest. There are several factors to consider when it comes to gym membership including:

  • Cost
  • Location
  • Equipment, Classes and Services
  • Atmosphere
  • Opening hours

Costs and Contracts

Member ships fees and contracts are all relatively the same from most gyms, but there are a few keys areas that you should into before committing and signing up to a contract. For starters, the price of gym membership will be the most obvious difference between different gyms. Typically there will be an upfront fee to join that can range from $50 to $250 with a monthly fee attached ranging from $20 to $80. These prices will be dependent on factors such as the services offered and the duration of membership.

Also, see what exactly your monthly fees cover. Are you covered for all classes, parking and pool access or are there additional charges attached. Are refunds or transfers to other gyms available if you move?

Long-term contracts or a direct debit form can be difficult to get out of if you change your mind so always ask if there are monthly or trial memberships available.

Finally, to ensure you are signing with a quality gym, see if they are well established and have a quality reputation with particular focus on whether or not they are a 'Fitness Australia Recognised Provider'. This means that the gym is following an industry Code of Practice with staff qualified to work in a gym, appropriate gym insurance and professional indemnity insurance.

Location

Studies have shown that people rarely travel further than 10 minutes to their gym before their visitation levels decline. Therefore, as a rule, the location of the gym should really be first priority as this will be a dominating factor in how much you visit.

Classes and Equipment

When it comes to the classes on offer and what equipment is available, there are several things to consider. For example, every gym should have a cardiovascular and strength training equipment areas which includes treadmills and weights. See how many machines the gym has and whether there are enough to go around for when you will be using the gym. Weeknights in any gym can be a very busy time so a gym should be equipped to handle the demand with easy-to-use and clean machines

In terms of classes, grab a timetable and see what is available and when, with the most common classes being pump, spinning, boxing, aerobics and Pilates.

There are also optional extras that can be available for members in some gyms which include programs and classes outside the normal timetable such as boot camp, weight loss challenges, lifestyle seminars, nutrition advice, walking groups and personal training.

Atmosphere

Gyms can range in their approach to fitness from large chain brands that offer the latest equipment and classes to smaller gyms that offer more personal service. Choosing the right feel for you is crucial as if you aren't comfortable in your gym...you just won't go. When choosing a gym, look at their members, their staff, and the layout of the work out areas. See if you feel comfortable working out in this environment and won't be embarrassed to exercise there. There are some gyms that are women only, or women only classes and areas for those that feel uncomfortable working out in mixed company.

Opening Hours

Also ask about opening hours including holidays and weekends. Make sure the facility will be open at the times you intend to train.

Finally, it is always recommended to try before you buy. Visit any gym as a guest first and try out the facilities in a time when you would normally be working out. Try a few different centres to have something to compare against, and take the time to shop around before making a decision.