How to Choose a Health Club

Choosing the right health club is very similar to buying/renting a home.  From the outside, most homes look very similar with bedrooms, a kitchen and bathrooms.  Unfortunately, when choosing a health club you do not have a realtor to point out the details.  There are a few questions that will help you choose the right health club for you.  It’s no secret that picking a quality club is key to sticking with your exercise program.

Is the location convenient to get to?  To be successful at your health club, it must be convenient for you.  Typically a club near your home, near work or near a place you travel to frequently–such as a school–works best for convenience.

Does the club have what you want?  Make a list of things before you tour a club that are important to your success at a health club–such as personal training, pools, tennis, exercise classes, childcare, towel service, etc.  If you are currently exercising, make sure you can do your exercises on the equipment provided in the health club.  If you do not currently exercise, make sure the health club staffs a personal trainer in the fitness center at all times to help you become accustomed to the equipment and answer questions.

Do the hours fit your lifestyle?  Think about when you are available to exercise and make sure the club is open during that time.  If you have children and you plan to bring them to the club, make sure childcare is available during that time as well.

How much does the membership cost?  Clubs vary in price and it is important to make sure you can afford the health club.  Do not write off the basic, low cost club or the high-end club as long as it is in a tolerable price range for you.  There may be hidden “intangibles” that you will find out about on a tour that might be worth the additional money or the basic health club may suit your needs and you do not want all the extras.  Besides the monthly membership fee, there are fees to beware of.  Is childcare an additional cost?  Is there a cost for group exercise classes?  Are lockers and towel service included?  The additional cost should be considered in your monthly membership fee even if it is not on the membership contract.  There is one question you must ask when you are discussing cost and contracts.  Does the health club “own” your contract or do they sell it to a third party?  In the latter case, there is little incentive to provide good service if the club does not “own” your contract.

The first four questions are the pre-qualifying questions to choosing the right health club.  This is like making sure your home has the right number of bedrooms, the appropriate garage space, enough bathrooms, etc.  Now it is time to narrow down the search and look at the intangibles of a club.

Can you try the club before joining?  It is important to try the club during the time you would normally use it.  You will be able to see how busy the fitness center is and make a more educated decision.

Does the clientele fit your lifestyle?  Health clubs are not just a place to exercise.  Health clubs provide a social circle for many people.  Make sure you are comfortable exercising around and with the other members.

Is the staff friendly and knowledgeable?  Did the front desk greet you?  Are the personal trainers certified?  Are the personal trainers college educated?  Ask the club if they have minimum requirements for their staff.

Here are a few other thought provoking questions to consider:

  1. Is the music too loud?
  2. Are there too many out of order signs?
  3. Do you need to sign up for group exercise classes?
  4. Do they offer a free orientation program when you join?
  5. Are towels and lockers provided?
  6. Are there a variety of programs to mix up your exercises?
  7. Are there personalized TVs on the cardio machines?

There is no perfect gym for everyone. Do your research, ask questions, be observant and know your goals and you’ll likely find a good fit.

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