There is hardly a week that passes without an article or study touting the benefits of exercise. Exercise to cure cancer, exercise to lose weight, feel better, livelonger, and stop dementia, the list appears endless. The benefits of exercise sound fantastic but there is just one problem. You have to exercise to gain the benefits! For many, this is a big problem.
So, what can you do to get yourself motivated to join the wonderful world of exercising? A great solution is to join a gym where you are in the company of like-minded people. Joining a gym for the first time or after a period of inactivity can be a little scary. I hope this article will make your fitness journey a little easier.
Aren't all gyms pretty much the same?
The short answer would be. ??. NO. Every gym has it's own personality both in the equipment and the type of people it attracts. Some gyms cater to weight lifters with lots of free weights and little else, while other facilities might cater to working women and offer activities such as yoga, spinning or aerobics. There are locally owned gyms and nationwide chains. Small gyms as well as mega fitness centers. There is a gym for everybody but it will take a little footwork to find your perfect fit.
What's the most important feature when looking for a gym?
In my opinion, location must be considered before anything else. Absence will not make the heart grow fonder. A gym more than 10 minutes from your home or office will end up not getting used. If you like to work out in the morning you might want to stick with gyms close to home. If you're a lunchtime sweat maven then a gym near work could be a better option. Some of the larger chains may have facilities by both work and home. In addition, if you travel, gyms with multiple locations may let you work out for FREE, or at a discount, if they have a facility at your travel destination.
Other Features to Consider
Membership Clientele ? Check out the other patrons in the gym you are considering. Each gym has it's own personality. Is it mostly women or men? Is everybody wearing fashionable workout gear or is it a shorts and t-shirt crowd? Does it cater to families or is it an adult's only gym?
Equipment - The quality and variety of equipment is very important if you plan on starting a comprehensive fitness program. Is the equipment well maintained? Check to see how many machines are "out of order". Check to see if free weights are offered as well as machines. Is there an adequate cardio section with plenty of bikes, climbers and treadmills? These tend to be high use pieces of equipment so it is important that the facility have several.
Hours - Everybody has different times for his or her workouts. Make sure the gym you choose will accommodate your schedule. If you are an early bird and your gym opens at 10:00 a.m. then you are probably going to end up not using it despite the other features you find appealing.
Price - Don't get fooled by a low-ball price. Make sure the membership includes the use of everything of interest to you. Some gyms have a low membership fee and then charge extra for using the tennis courts, pool, classes etc. Read the fine print. Also, there are all-inclusive low priced gyms that are in the business of selling memberships and don't really care what happens after you sign up. You may find that half your town has a membership and you have to wait in line to use the equipment.
Management - Is there an active owner or manager on the premises? What is there policy regarding restacking your weights and the playing of loud music? In some gyms, anything goes and you may hear 3 or 4 different stereos playing at the same time, weights are thrown around and you can never find the equipment you would like to use. This is a sign of poor and inattentive management and should probably be removed from consideration.
Everybody is different and there is not a single solution for picking the ideal gym. The key is to find a place that you feel comfortable and that you will use on a regular basis. Working out is a habit that takes time to form. Don't make an impulsive decision that will cause you to lose your desire to get in shape.
Before making a commitment, visit and workout at a few gyms that you are considering. Most facilities will let you try them out for a few days. Make sure you go at the times you would if you were to join. This will give you a feel for how crowded the equipment is at that time. Now, the only thing left to do is just go out and GET STARTED!!
Here is a list of several gyms with nationwide locations. These will offer a good starting point on your quest for the perfect gym. Check for locations in your area.
Mike Brooks is a life long follower and proponent of the fitness lifestyle. Mr. Brooks believes that being healthy is a choice and includes not only a proper diet but total fitness of the mind, body and soul. His column appears weekly at http://www.ultimatehealthreport.com