It’s that time of year again. Time for New Year’s resolutions, goal setting, and game plans. Although resolutions come in all shapes and sizes, many people are choosing the old standby: slim down and get fit. Typically the first step of this process is joining a gym, but in today’s world this means sifting through a wide variety of overwhelming options. Not sure where to start? No worries. Here are our top five things to consider before lacing up your Nike’s and signing on the dotted line.
- Cost. Some gyms will pull you in with all of the bells and whistles. Some people like bells and whistles, but not everyone will actually use them. Of course it is nice to have a swimming pool, a wide variety of classes, a rock climbing wall, a fitness apparel store, and a smoothie shop conveniently located at the foot of your treadmill, but it is important to ask yourself how much you are willing (and able) to pay for those conveniences. Large, fancy gyms come with a price tag. If you can afford the extra amenities and believe that you will utilize them, then they might be worth the investment. If you are looking to focus on basic cardio and strength training, then you might be better off joining a smaller gym with more standard features. Smaller gyms tend to be more affordable and a bit less intimidating. This can be perfect for beginners, or anyone looking to forgo all of the spectacle and simply get their sweat on.
- Location. Gym location often plays a crucial role in our fitness success. Motivation can be difficult to find. It is important to keep this in mind when choosing your gym. If your gym requires a 10 minute drive, followed by a 3 minute walk, an hour long train ride, and two bus transfers, then the likelihood of dragging yourself out of bed on Saturday morning is probably going to be pretty slim. If your gym is conveniently located in the strip mall across the street from your two bedroom condo, then your odds of success are going to lean a bit more in your favor. When choosing a gym try to remember that the easier it is to make it to the gym…well…the easier it is to make it to the gym.
- Hours. Some of us are morning people. Others of us are night owls. A few of us perk up in the afternoon, while others of us tend to fall into a mid-afternoon slump. Knowing which category you fall into is important when it comes to committing to a gym. Night owls might require a 24-hour location, while afternoon people might need to choose a gym closer to work in order to be able to pop in on their break. Morning people will obviously want to choose a gym with early morning hours. Likewise, if you work from 9 to 5 and your gym closes at 6, then you are probably not going to be a very prominent member. Be aware of which hours work best for you and choose a gym that best accommodates your needs.
- Amenities. As mentioned above, some gyms will pull you in with bells and whistles. For some of us that is perfectly alright. It all depends on what amenities you are looking for. If you are just looking for the basics, then it is likely a waste of money to pay extra for the fluff. If you are someone who needs variety, is motivated by having a wide range of options, and looks forward to a recovery smoothie after a successful day of Zumba, then it might be worth it to splurge on a high-end fitness membership. Only you know what you are looking for and only you know what will keep you motivated to work out every day. Be aware of your needs and choose a gym accordingly.
- Support. Everyone is different. When it comes to a fitness routine, some people prefer to fly solo, while others are more successful in a group setting. If you find working out to be your moment of peace and tranquility and you are easily self-motivated, then your ideal gym likely offers individual machines and solo activities. If you thrive on the energy of others and require a bit more guidance and motivation, then you might want to look into gyms that offer more of a group experience. Something along the lines of Orange Theory or Cross Fit might be a good option. Gyms are not one size fits all. What works for some might not work for others. Knowing your preferences and personality will help you to choose a gym that best suits your needs.
Choosing the right gym can be crucial to your fitness success. It is not only important to choose a gym that fits your schedule and location needs, but also excites and motivates you. It should offer a comfortable level of support and otherwise fit your personality and lifestyle. Don’t just join a gym this New Year, follow our tips and join a gym that is right for you. Happy New Year and happy health!