Have you ever paid for a gym membership but never used it? Or signed up in the first weeks of the new year, only to forget about it and let the direct debits eat your money away?
Choosing the right gym for you involves the following four steps:
- Looking inwards & discovering what you want out of it
- Deciding what type of gym you want to join
- Finding the right gym in your area based on the previous two steps
- Making a final decision and making it happen!
Picking the right gym can be tough, but is often the next big step forward for your health and fitness. Today, we are going to break down our simple system for picking the right gym, saving you time… and money.
How to pick the Right Gym
Picking the right gym is tough – what equipment do they have? Are the trainers friendly and helpful? How much does it cost? Any sign up fees?
With so many questions flying around and every gym owner and their dog trying to vie for your attention, it can be easy to get caught up in the confusion and just pick the first gym you can find.
We are here to change that. We are here to make picking the right gym, easy.
Step 1. Looking Inwards & Discovering what you want out of it
If you want to have a successful journey you have to know where you are starting from and where you want to go. You need to have a strong understanding of what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning.
What are some of your goals for this next phase in your exercise journey? What barriers you typically face when it comes to exercise? And what interventions you can use to get around them?
Why is this important when picking the right gym?
Having a strong grasp on your starting point and your key motivators will allow you to be able to search for and find the gym that specializes in supporting people going through your journey.
For example, if you are a 35-year-old mum who just wants to lose a few kilograms, you probably are not going to join the bodybuilding gym down the road.
Or if you are the 55-year-old man who just had a serious operation, we would not be recommended that you run down to the local gym and jump in their next high-intensity group class.
There are people and gyms out there that have dedicated their lives and their business to help people going through the same journey as you.
You just have to ask yourself, “where am I going?”
How do I do this?
Ask yourself the following:
- What are my health and fitness goals? (e.g. lose 5 kg, be able to run 5 km, get stronger)
- What are some of the main barriers stopping me from achieving them? (e.g. No time, too tired to drive to the gym after work, no one to go with.)
- Which gym option (or not) would help me overcome these barriers? (e.g. A gym close to me, convince a friend to join with you, etc.)
Answer these questions and you will be ready to jump into step two.
Step 2. Decide what type of gym you want to join
Types of Gyms
Gyms typically have three main services:
Here, you can have free reign over the gym equipment to train how you please. This is the cheapest of the three options because much of your programming and motivation you have to come up with yourself.
Here, trainers will set up a program under the general theme of the session for all members to complete. Typical class size 10-25 people and is cheaper than personal training. This is because you get the attention and planning of the trainer. But sacrifice the level of personal care by sharing your training time with a large group.
Personal Training or Small Group Training
Here, you meet with a trainer and they help you plan, structure, and implement your workouts each week. This is typically the most expensive of the three as you get the most personal attention.
Understanding Gym Structure
Now that you have completed Step 1, you should now have a basic idea of what goals, barriers and interventions you require to make your fitness journey a success.
This will then help you decide what gym structure would be suit you and your needs.
For example, if you are training by yourself, struggling to find the motivation and do not have a friend to train with, classes or personal training may be best for you. You may benefit from training with other people who are able to keep you motivated and accountable.
If one of your main barriers to exercise is the cost of membership, you can choose a general access option and pay for a personal training session every 1-2 months as a check-in to ensure you are still progressing.
Personality Type & Personal Circumstances
General Access: money conscious, self-motivated, likes training alone.
Group Training: needs some structure, needs to be accountable to someone, wants to just do the workout without thinking.
Personal Training: not money conscious, just starting exercising at a gym, needs a lot of motivation and accountability, has lots of personal considerations such as health conditions and injuries.
For many people, the best option is a combination of the options listed above.
Our number 1 recommendation for new gym-goers is to sign up for a gym that provides a group class + general access membership.
This will allow you to sign up for one or more group classes per week and meet new people.
It’ll take the stress out of the new environment, as well as help you to gain insight and expertise from a qualified coach at a fraction of the cost of personal training. During group training, you’ll usually get extra technique and help if you are new compared to older members, which is an added bonus.
Step 3. Finding Gyms in Your Area
With the internet and social media, scouring your local streets for gyms has become easier than ever.
Set yourself a search radius (how far you are willing to travel) and search online for gyms that offer the services you are interested in. And if you are not sure what type of gym will suit you, just try a mixture and see how you go.
Call up or visit each gym that spikes your interest.
These days, the fitness industry is super competitive, so more often you’ll be able to try a free class or trial.
This will allow you to go in and get a feel for the place, the coaches and the classes.
Feel free to spend the next few weeks trialing the gyms you have shortlisted.
Take note of each gym rating the following factors out of 10 (10 = This is the gym for me, 1 = I am never coming back)
- How the gym made you feel
- How much you enjoyed the classes
- How involved, passionate and genuine the trainers are
- Cost / Value for money
- Convenience (Travel time/distance)
This will help you get to gauge your scale of enjoyment across all the gyms you visit without getting confused.
And please, don’t be afraid to say no to staff if they get a little too eager to sign you up or if you didn’t like the gym.
Step 4. Making your Final Decision
Now that you have spent the time getting out there and trialing the different gyms in your area, it’s time to make a decision.
Now go through the scores you wrote down for each gym. You are going to find each gyms average score. So for each gym, you are going to add the scores together, then divide it by the number of questions (5).
This will give you an average score and a clear indication of which gym was your favourite.
Still can’t decide?
Look up customer reviews for each gym.
Typically people review things because they love something or they hate it.
Most gyms are run by a small group of employees, who have consistent interaction with members. Typically when it comes to gyms, clients only review the gym when they have established a close enough connection with the gym and want to give back.
This makes gym reviews an excellent tool to gauge the true culture behind the gym.
This is an excellent way to double-check to see if the experience you had at the gym was a one-off to get you in the door or whether it is their genuine standard.
If you still can’t decide, have a look at the small differences between each gym.
If you are stuck on where to go and you liked a few. Things that can differentiate them is,
- Willingness to negotiate on the price
- Freebies to add-in
- No lock-in contracts
These little things that make joining the gym that little bit less stressful and make going each week a little bit more enticing.
Picking the right gym is a battle between the gym you love and the gym that is convenient.
How do I chose between a gym I love and the one that is convenient or cheap?
In saying this, the way we see it, the gym you love will always win.
…the gym you love but is $25 a week and 20 minutes away so you can only go on Saturday mornings, but it is the best part of your Saturday.
Or the gym that is $12.5 a week and 5 minutes from home but you can barely bring yourself to walk through the doors.
If you hate a gym, the culture, the structure or the people, it doesn’t matter how cheap or convenient it is you will avoid going like the plague. So you just don’t go.
Obviously there has to be give and take. And you aren’t going to drive an hour each way or pay $100 a week for a membership.
But if that distance or the cost is reasonable. We always pick the gym we love.
The Next Steps
- Look inward. Ask yourself, what motivates me? Do I like exercising alone or in a group? Do I need a trainer or can I be accountable on my own?
- Understand gym structure.
- Search the gyms in your area that are structured the way you like and sign up for a FREE Trial. And if you don’t know what that is, try them all.
- Rate them from 1-10 for, how it made you feel, how much you enjoyed the session, the passion and engagement of the trainers, the pricing and the convenience.
- Average out the scores to get a reliable measurable way to compare each gym.
- If you still are not sure, mark down your favourites and double check for any deals, Free sessions or positive reviews they might have that can tip them over the edge.
- Take the plunge. Sign up to the gym and never look back. Hopefully this is the gym for you!
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