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How to Find a Gym That's Right for You

Updated on December 17, 2017

The Right Gym

Working out is great for your mind, body and soul. Finding a good gym is a big part of helping you achieve your personal fitness goals in 2018.

What defines a good gym? It's one that helps you achieve your fitness goals, is convenient (so you'll actually go) and affordable.

This site provides tips and info to help you find and choose a gym that's right for you.

Game Plan for Choosing a Gym

Finding a gym that meets your fitness needs is not rocket science. It just requires knowing what you want and doing a little research to find it.

Your game plan:

1. Decide what you want.

2. Identify gyms.

3. Visit and evaluate each gym.

4. Select a winner.

What Are Your Fitness Goals? - Reasons for choosing a gym.

The easiest way to find the right gym for you is to know what you're looking for. So take a moment and decide what you want to achieve most by going to a gym or health club.

Some gyms specialize in certain areas while others offer a wide range of programs. Knowing what your goals are will help you ask the right questions when evaluating a gym and make sure you find a good match.

What is your primary reason to join a gym?

See results

Identify Gyms In Your Area

You need to know what gyms are near by. There is probably a greater selection than you realize. Here are some ways to find out what is available to you:

- Ads in the local newspaper or weekly magazines

- Local TV and Radio ads

- Search on the internet

- Ask friends and co-workers

- Look while driving around town. Many gyms are located in shopping plazas that might be on your way to work or where your grocery is located.

- Check out major chains for a location near you. Below are links to some health club chains to get you started:

Hidden Gems

Keep an eye out for new gyms opening up. They usually offer reduced rates to get members in, have newer equipment and may not be as crowded as older gyms. Social media, radio and the local newspaper are good places to find these.

The one time I joined a brand new gym was great. All brand new equipment, maybe three or four other people in there and it was $5 less per month than my old gym. Unfortunately I had to move a few months after I joined but it was awesome while it lasted.

Location and Convenience

If possible, find a gym that is close to where you work or live. Even better is one that's on your way to work or school.

The closer the gym is to your everyday travels, the easier it is to add a work out into your regular routine.

Also make sure that the gym is open when you'll want to go. This shouldn't be a problem since most gyms open early (between 5-6am) and close late. Weekend hours are typically shorter. Gyms that are open 24 hours are becoming more common.

Visit The Gym When You'll Be Working Out

Like any business, gyms have busy and slow periods. The only way to know if a gym will be crowded is to visit during the times you plan to work out. If you are going to work out on your way to work, visit on your way to work.

Pay attention to the areas that you plan to use. You care less how many people are in the aerobics class if you're there to do weight training. How many people are using the equipment? Are people waiting? Is the aerobics class you're interested in packed wall to wall or is there plenty of space to move around?

Remember the locker room. Is there enough space for everyone and is it reasonably clean?

Important Features

Depending on your lifestyle and fitness experience, other features may be important to you when selecting a gym.

Here are a few to consider:

  • On Site Child Care - This can be very helpful for parents trying to fit a workout into their daily life. Check on the gym's security policy and what training the providers have. Tour the child care area and ask what the fee is for this service (if any).
  • Personal Trainers - You may want to use a personal trainer regularly or occasionally. Find out if the gym provides any personal training (even just getting a routine started) as part of your membership. Also ask about any restrictions on bringing an outside trainer in if you think you'll want to do that.
  • Trained Staff - Find out what training and experience the gym's staff have. If you're going to ask someone how to use a machine correctly, you want to know they know what they're talking about.
  • Fitness Classes - Some gyms offer everything from Aerobics to Spinning to Yoga. Others may only offer a limited selection. Find out what classes are included in your membership and see the schedule.
  • Women Only Gyms - Some health clubs focus specifically on the fitness needs of women.
  • Pool - Swimming is a great workout but your choice of fitness centers will be more limited.
  • Sauna - If you enjoy sitting in a hot room and sweating profusely after a workout, add it to your list. This is a common feature at many gyms.
  • Food Bar - Yes, you can even find snack bars in some gyms. These should specialize in healthy foods.
  • Guest Passes - Find out what the policy is if you have friends or relatives who visit from out of town and might want to go to the gym with you.

Cost and Budget

There are usually two costs for most gyms: the monthly membership fee and the dreaded one time initial application or sign up fee. You will have to evaluate what your monthly budget can afford and whether the services offered are worth the cost of each gym.

Here are some tips to reducing gym costs:

1. Advertised Deals - Look for special sign up offers online or in your local paper and ask when you go in if there are any offers.

2. Negotiate - Some gyms give their salespeople flexibility with the fees. Ask if the sign up fee can be reduced or waived and if there's any way to lower the monthly dues.

3. Group Discount - Find out if the gym you're looking at offers a discount based on your employer, healthcare plan, school or any other organization you're affiliated with.

4. Health Plan - Ask your health insurance plan if they provide any assistance for health club memberships.

Many gyms do some form of auto payment for the monthly fee via your credit card or bank account. My preference is to use the credit card because it's easier to resolve any disputes and shut off the payment when/if you end the membership than with a bank account. Depending on what card you use, you might get reward points as well.

Learn More About Bodybuilding and Weight Training

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a 7 time winner of the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding title. He's also a past Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the former governor of California.

Take A Free Test Drive

Ask for a free workout pass or trial membership before joining. This will give you a better opportunity to evaluate the equipment and classes. Use your trial workout during the same time you plan to do your work outs to get a feel for the crowd.

Once you narrow your selection down to a couple gyms, it doesn't hurt to ask for another trial at each to finalize your decision. Some gyms will give you another pass if they see that you're serious about joining.

Were these tips helpful to you?

What do you consider the most important part of finding the right gym? Please leave a comment below.

Comments About Finding A Gym...

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Really nice advice, I know a lot of people struggle to get started with training and I'm sure this will help.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 

      9 years ago from Houston

      Great tips. I learned a long time ago that I wasn't comfortable in all gyms. You are so right to choose the right one.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      10 years ago

      Exactly, not every gym is right for every person!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      If you're in Australia Local Fitness can help you find your ideal gym, personal trainer or class by catering to your fitness goals and where you live! It was really helpful, because it did the legwork for me (pardon the pun!). !

    • religions7 profile image


      12 years ago

      good tips.


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