If chilly temps are putting your outdoor workouts on hold, then it's time to find a gym so you can keep up with your runs and bike rides. Many health clubs offer lower rates this time of year, so if you're looking to join, now is a great time. If you're not sure how to choose a gym, these questions should help.
- Where is it located? If it's more than a 10-minute walk or car ride from your home or office, chances are you'll be less motivated to go.
- What's the cost per month or year? Call around to see what deals are being offered and what the price includes. You may have to pay extra for classes, parking, use of the pool or sauna, or for meetings with a trainer. Monthly fees are usually around $10 to $75, and some gyms require you to pay a sign-up or annual fee too.
- When is the gym open? If you can only go at 5:30 a.m., but the gym doesn't open until 6, then you'll have to find a different place. Check the weekend hours too, since some gyms close early on Sundays, or aren't open at all. Many facilities now are open 24 hours a day, but you may be paying extra for that and it won't matter if you're never going to go past 5 at night
- What do you like to do? Whether it be using the treadmill, tennis, lifting weights, or taking classes, go with the gym that offers the activities you like. Don't pay extra for the pool if you know you'll never swim.
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- Is the gym clean? The equipment, bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms should be well taken care of.
- Is the gym crowded at times you plan on going? If you can only go at noon, and no cardio machines are free at that time, then you'll be wasting time and money. Before you sign up, visit the gym at times you think you'll be working out to check the availability of equipment.
- What are the fellow gym goers like? If you prefer working out with just ladies, and the gym is filled with huge muscle men, you probably won't feel comfortable.
- What's the staff like? Are they friendly and helpful? Do they go out of their way to show you around and introduce you to people? Also, they should be trained in first aid and CPR, so check on that.
- Does the gym have personal trainers? If so, find out if you get to meet with one for a free session when you sign up. If not, how much are sessions?
Most gyms will offer free day passes, so take advantage of these. Check out all the gyms in your area to see which one fits your needs best.