Joining a new gym can be nerve-wracking. Is it the right fit? Are the classes challenging? Will they still be open in 3 months (don’t laugh it’s true!) I’ve had my own nightmare experiences with gyms most recently, and once many years ago I joined a gym that closed temporarily 2 weeks later due to “facility issues”. It was a massive gym chain with many locations, please note it NEVER reopened. Based on my own experiences and hearing about others I thought it might be helpful to know what to know before you join. Today I’ve put together for you a list of tips and questions you should know the answers to before joining a new gym.
1. Ask for a Free Trial.
Most gyms/facilities will offer you the experience to come in and try out the facility to see if it’s a good fit for you. If they don’t offer this service I would be weary. You wouldn’t buy sneakers without trying them on, why would you sign up for a gym you haven’t tried out at least once? Use the free trail to your advantage, check out the facility! Don’t just go use the treadmill for 30 minutes and call it a day. Visit the locker room, talk to other members and guests, look at the equipment. Talk to the trainers and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
2. Ask Specific Questions about Memberships.
If you’re a college student who won’t be living in the same town as the gym for the summer months, is it transferable? Can you use it at other locations? If you’re a mom is there a child watch type program? Do they offer family programs? The best questions though are about the membership terms. IF YOU NEED to cancel what are the terms. I once joined a gym that was a 3 year commitment then mysteriously closed two weeks later. When I tried to cancel my membership I was told I signed the terms and conditions and no refund was to be provided. This was a HUGE ($$) lesson learned. Read the fine print, KNOW the terms.
3. Take a Group Class.
If you are thinking of joining a gym that offers group classes take one! If you are looking for honest feedback from members get there a few minutes early and ask lots of questions before the instructor gets in the class. I have found that feedback to be the most honest I’ve ever gotten. They will tell you if the pool is always closed for repairs. Or if the spin class isn’t that good. One women even went so far as to tell me what instructors always run long and which ones arrive on time. That information can be critical when deciding where to join.
4. ASK FOR CERTIFICATIONS.
If a gym can’t provide you with their trainer certifications chances are HIGH they aren’t certified. When you pay for a membership at a gym part of what you are paying for is the ability to speak to trained professionals about your goals. The reasons cross fit gyms cost more money than the $10 a month gym is because their trainers are some of the most certified in the country. It’s not cheap. If they can’t produce certifications for all instructors at the facility SKIP THEM.
5. How Close is the Gym?
Let’s be honest with ourselves most of us aren’t driving across town for a gym. The farther away the gym the less likely you are to make it there often. Pick a gym that’s close to home or to work. The less hassle in getting there the higher the chances you will be a regular hitting your fitness goals.
6. Ask How Long Have then Been in Business.
Be very specific with this question, how long with the SAME NAME AND SAME OWNERS has the gym been in business. Gyms that seem to have a revolving door of names and owners could be a bad sign of things to come. Consistency is important to reaching fitness goals and it’s equally as important when it comes to picking a gym. If it’s a new gym and you really want to join protect yourself by paying month to month. Don’t go through the hassle of finding a new gym only to have it close and be forced to start the search all over again.
7. Ask about Average Wait Time for Equipment.
I would much rather spend my “gym” time working out, rather than waiting for Suzie Q to finish up her 8 mile run so I can use her treadmill. Most people forget to ask this question. They dash into the gym without considering the times that they would plan to use the facility. Ask the question! If you work and know you will be using the gym early in the morning and right after work ask about wait times, during those popular time.
8. Ask about Amenities.
Is there a free personal assessment included in your membership? Are there additional fees for the pool, towel service or the sauna. Do they offer personal training or group training for free? Ask specifics, some facilities offer features they publicly advertise but they are not included in a basic membership, they are ad ons.
9. Know When you are Getting a Sales Pitch.
I will admit I’m especially bad at this. When things are too good to be true they usually are. The same is true for gyms. If they are promising you everything under the sun to sign up TODAY without asking any questions, that’s a good opportunity to take a pause. Doing your homework online can help you avoid many pitfalls that come with getting pushy sales pressure. Google is your friend, use it. Research the facility you want to join, Google the trainers names as well. With review services like Google places, Yelp! and the Yellow Pages make it easy to know what others are saying about the gym before you join.
10. Know Yourself.
If you’re a hardcore runner looking to join a yoga studio be honest with yourself about how much you will be using the facility. It’s a financial commitment in yourself, so spend money where you will be using it the most! Maybe a personal running coach or team would be a better fit than a gym? If you know your heart isn’t really into Spin don’t join an exclusive Spin Studio try finding a more diverse facility. If you know swimming is your fitness love, think twice about joining a facility without a pool.These seem obvious but sometimes we don’t pause enough to really be honest with ourselves and out fitness goals.
These are just a few of my tips for joining a new gym, I would love to hear from you, your tips and must ask questions!
Don’t join a gym hoping it will be something you love, find the perfect fit by doing your homework and following these simple tips and answering these questions. Just like getting engaged get to know the family you are thinking of joining before you take the plunge!
Question of the Day? What has been your worse new gym experience? What tips/questions would you offer? What are your plans for the weekend?