How to Select the Best Fitness Facility or Gym
Finding the right gym or fitness facility can mean the difference in changing your lifestyle and achieving new found success in your life or NOT! There is not a one size fits all approach to finding what meets your needs. Finding what you truly need and enjoy is essential to getting and keeping results.
First, you need to know what you truly want before you know what to look for in a fitness facility and what to ask before joining. Write a list of your “Must Haves” and “Likes/Dislikes” Then write a list of your “Deal Breakers”
Step 1: Snoop Online (Website, BBB, Social Media Platforms FB, IG, LI)
Do your homework. Look online for their internet presence. This is key in figuring out if you are finding a legitimate facility. Do they have a professional website that is updated? Are their class schedules or events updated or outdated? Do they have pictures or videos of staff, clients, classes, client testimonies? If the facility you’re considering has Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account (which they should have all in today’s world), check their feeds for current posts and members to get a sense of their day-to-day activity. In addition to social media, check for reviews on sites like Facebook, Yelp, City Search, Yahoo, Bing, and Google to get a feel for what current and former members like (or don’t) about the facility. Check on the Better Business Bureau and see if they are backed by the BBB and if they have a good rating. The more research you do, the better.
Step 2: Never Price Point Shop, always visit, take your time and look at everything, do a trial session or pass!
Call the facility first and see how they answer the phone. Is the receptionist friendly, helpful, did she offer you a free consultation to come in and see the facility? If not, then this is your first RED flag. A simple phone call can reveal the training of the staff and how professional and friendly they will be when you’re a member. Then, take a tour of the facility you’re interested in and consider the factors that are important to you. Ask for a free day trial pass or buy an introductory 1-month trial package as a great (and in-expensive) way to test out before committing to a long-term contract.
Cost is usually a deciding factor when choosing a facility, however this is where a lot of people go wrong. You never want to enroll at a facility simply because of price. The old saying holds true “you get what you pay for!” This couldn’t be closer to the truth. Think about cars. You don’t go to a Mercedes dealership expecting to pay Kia prices, and you wouldn’t go to a Kia dealership, purchase a Kia priced vehicle and expect to get Mercedes quality. And, do you think that Mercedes worries that Kia is a third of the price? No. Because Mercedes knows that you’re either the cheapest or the best. This is how you should look at facilities (and trainers). If you want the cheapest, then don’t expect the best of anything. However, if you want the best, be prepared to pay the cost.
Many facilities have an enrollment fee, but most of the time, these can be waived. Is the membership all inclusive? Find out exactly what you’re paying for and ask if there are any additional add-on’s. This will inform you of future amenities you might want to add and thus you can select the best option NOW instead of the hassle of adding something later. Most facilities will nickel and dime you to death, a fee for this, a fee for that, watch out for salesmen who run down a list of extra options/services that you could add to your membership. Look for something that covers everything you need! Take a look at the payment schedule. Do you pay each month, bi-weekly, or pay in full? What are the cancellations policies? And most importantly, does it fit into your budget? If not, ask them for a discount, explain exactly what your budget is for the membership and see if they are willing to work with you. In most cases, they will be able to find an option that meets your budget best, you just have to ask!
It’s much easier to spend a little extra money on a membership with a facility that has top of the line programs, staff, and that is more motivating to be in, rather than a snobby, boring, or dungeon facility that zaps your energy. Then once you find the place you enjoy and a plan that meets your budget, commit and go for it! But most importantly, stick to it!
More guidelines to help you choose the facility that will be best long-term for you:
Location is probably the first thing to think about for most people when they’re choosing a facility. If it’s not easy or convenient then you probably won’t follow through. You may want a facility close to your office, job site, school, or home. Also consider if you will be driving or walking or both. Make a test run and check out the commute? If it’s too long of a walk or too much traffic maybe you should find a more efficient route or perhaps something closer so you will actually use your membership. Also ensure that your facility is located in a safe location to ensure your safety and the safety of your vehicle. Are their camera’s in and around the facility?
What time of day will you work out? Figure out what times you want to work out. Will you work out early mornings, at lunch or after work? Is the facility open during these hours and the times you need? Some facilities are open 24 hours a day, others close at night-time or are closed on weekends. Whether you work out early in the morning or late at night, make sure the hours of operation work with the times you need.
Everyone has a different taste or niche when it comes to the facility that they enjoy most. Some woman prefers a woman’s only facility to avoid men staring or the facility intimidation factor. Some people prefer a more upscale high-end large facility offering lots of space, fancy amenities, and other members of the same caliber. Some prefer a more intense hard-core training facility similar to a bodybuilding/powerlifting/CrossFit style facility. These facilities are typically in older box buildings or warehouse style locations. The environment is laid back, not too many rules, and probably anything goes as long it’s hardcore. Others prefer a small boutique style facility. These are typically your independent facilities or small chains located in plaza style shopping centers. These facilities offer a neighborhood feel and usually are not too busy, loud, nor intimidating however due to the size they may lack certain amenities or areas of expertise if you are needing something specific.
Consider the atmosphere of the facility. Is it upbeat or is it boring? Find a facility that is fun and motivating and makes you want to work out. Find a facility that is bright, good lighting, good colors, and maybe some outdoor lighting.
Another advantage of specialized niche facilities is that they often will offer more specialized programs to the population they are targeting. Example, if you want to train for a warrior run or obstacle course race, you probably won’t get results or specialized training somewhere like Jazzercise or Curves.
You also want to ask about busy days and times. Some facilities have different busy times based on services offered so it’s always to check this out. You want to go to the facility at the same time that you would normally work out. This will allow you to see how the environment will be during the times you are going to be there.
Make sure you go inside and take a good look around. Think about the goals you have and type of equipment you want to work out with. Do you prefer cardio only, machines only, are you going to want to use functional equipment like balls, bands, kettlebells, etc. Be cautious of out-of-order machines; this might be indicative of a poorly maintained facility. There is nothing more frustrating that going to a facility to use your favorite piece of equipment and its broke. Be aware of how long stuff stays out-of-order. Maybe ask a member during your “trial” how long has that piece been broken? 7-10 days is usually acceptable if we account for a technician ordering the part and it getting shipped and then the repairs take place but any more than 10 days is unacceptable. Another area to look for is an area to stretch or do floor work like abs. Some facilities surprisingly don’t have this or its only enough room for 1 or 2 people.
Are there towels, spray bottles, disinfectant wipes to wipe off equipment. Does the facility offer a free towel service if you forget your towel? Also, look to see if staff members enforce the cleanliness. Peek into the restrooms/locker rooms and look at the toilets, sinks, and showers themselves to see that they’re properly maintained and cleaned.
Ask to see the class schedule before you sign up. Are the classes you want to take available at the times you can come? Ask about class fees again so you know exactly what you are paying for. Do the classes fill up? Do you need to sign up in advance?
Does the facility offer free health or fitness screening for members? Ask if the facility offers body fat testing, cardiovascular testing, and strength, movement and flexibility testing.
Does the facility offer other amenities you may want? Do you need a smoothie bar, tanning, massage, a sauna, a steam room, a Jacuzzi, pool, basketball, racquet ball, tennis, personal trainers, nutrition counseling, audio and television hookups for the cardio room, or a pro shop to purchase active gear/supplements?
Do you need childcare?
If you have a young child that you need to bring to the facility with you this could be a very strong factor in your decision in choosing a facility.
You will want to ask about the costs of daycare, whether it is worked into your membership or whether you will be charged extra for it. Also ask about the childcare rules, capacity, and hours of availability.
The staff members of the facility should be polite, professional, and courteous at all times. Remember the phone call? That was Red Flag number 1. As soon as you walk in the door, are you greeted properly with a smile and a friendly greeting? If not Red Flag number 2!
Before selecting a facility, ask about the certifications and degrees of the fitness staff members. Are they qualified to guide you safely and efficiently in the right direction with your fitness goals? (see part 2 of my blog post-how to select a personal trainer) Some facilities offer all-inclusive programs that include training with your membership while others offer personal training as an add-on service. Ask about discounts like military or student discount or even a bulk discount if you pay in full or purchase a certain amount. There might also be a family package or a buddy add-on option.
Does the staff help you?
Watch out for facilities that sign you up and then forget about you. Ask a staff member to show you how to use the equipment. Watch to see how staff handles certain situations like an upset client, a piece of equipment laying out, a sweaty bench seat, or even a piece of trash on the floor. Did they stop to pick up the trash? See how the staff handles a situation like dropping/slamming weights. If they have good equipment, they will try make sure things like that don’t happen.
So before you make rushed decisions on deciding what facility to choose make sure you do your homework! After all your time and money invested into your health is priceless!
For more great FREE fitness and health information be sure to check out our blog at www.befitkilleen.com