Are You Getting Enough From Your Gym Membership?
Many of us join gyms or fitness clubs with the best of intentions. We spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than a thousand dollars every year in gym membership fees.
To make sure our money is well spent, it’s time we take a closer look at gym memberships. Instead of joining without any clear goals or expectations, we need to think through what we want to get out of a gym membership. This doesn’t just apply to health and fitness, but also the gym culture, resources and of course, cost.
Before committing to a gym, keep your goals in mind and shop around. Gyms come in all different shapes and sizes. Some gyms emphasize strength training. Others may offer a better choice of aerobics classes or weight-management programs. And some may offer the best, well-maintained environment.
Find the right match
If you’re searching for a gym to join, there are important factors that shouldn’t be overlooked. Even if you’re already a member of gym, it’s never a bad time to reevaluate your membership to ensure your current gym is meeting your needs. Focus on these factors:
Professionalism. The club should be clean and well-maintained. Staff members should have appropriate educational backgrounds for their positions, especially if you are working with an athletic trainer. Overall, the staff should be able to assist you in all aspects of fitness. This includes strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility, as well as your specific area of interest.
Atmosphere. Some gyms have a clean, simple environment with fewer frills, while others may offer more luxuries like upscale locker rooms. Whichever gym atmosphere you prefer, make sure that it’s kept clean. The locker rooms and machines should be consistently clean.
Convenience. If you have to drive an hour to get to the gym, you'll soon get tired of the hassle. Look for a facility that's close to home or work, or halfway in-between. Also, make sure to check the gym out at your usual exercise time to see how busy it is. Chances are, if you’re always waiting for machines or weights, you’ll choose to avoid the inconvenience all together.
Services. If massages, steam rooms, and an on-site nutritionist are important to you, be sure they're important to your gym, too. If you’re a frequent traveler, does your gym have multiple locations? Or shared memberships with gyms in other cities?
Contract. Most clubs require you to sign a contract to become a member. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, make sure you read the fine print and know what you’re signing up for:
- Length of commitment: Is it month to month, or are you required to join for a specific period?
- Termination options: Can you cancel your membership before the end of the contract? Under what conditions?
- Annual fees: Are there additional fees besides your monthly membership cost? If so, what are these and how much are they?
Enjoy Your Gym Perks
After you’ve found the right gym, don’t forget to take advantage of the services available to you to really make the most of the membership.
Take stock of everything your gym has to offer. Classes? Competitions? Sports leagues? Variety will keep you interested and motivated.
Read the bulletin board. Gyms are often centers for fitness activities in their communities. Many gym bulletin boards also offer tips on nutrition and fitness, deals on equipment, events and other opportunities to get involved.
Use the trainer. Depending on what type of membership you have, you may have access to an athletic trainer; make sure to take advantage of their services. Personal training can help you find the right fitness program for you and your goals.
Fitness Assessments. Some gyms may offer fitness assessments to collect basic information about you, your fitness level and your fitness goals. On top of that, some gyms may offer additional services to collect measurements like muscular endurance and blood pressure.
Fitness at its Finest
No matter your exercise level, it’s important to ensure that you are making the most of your fitness routine. Finding the right routine for you and your health can be difficult, especially if you’re doing it on your own. Utilizing tools like a fitness assessment, personal fitness training and a running gait analysis can provide you with individualized solutions for all of your fitness questions.