Health clubs, gyms, and fitness centers come many shapes and sizes. Ranging from simple workout spaces with fitness machines, to high tech, fully functional beauty and spa. To make sure you get your moneys worth, and you get your needs met as much as possible, take these steps into account.
Type of Health Club
Normally there are 2 types of work out facilities, but house different names.
- A Gym is usually just an exercise facility with work out machines and trainers. Typically these are used by body builders. They would have showers, lockers and usually a pool and jacuzzi. These gyms can come in many sizes ranging from very large and fully functional to simple with weight machines, trainers, showers and lockers.
- Health Club or Fitness Center. These also come in different sizes but are more likely to be fully functional all the way around. Fully high tech exercise equipment, exercise classrooms, exercise classes of different types (Aerobics, Yoga, Jazzercise, different dance styles in aerobic format, exercise ball, belly dancing, Taebo, kick boxing), large swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, spa treatments, fat burning and slimming treatments, hair salon, beauty treatments, a healthy snack bar, specialized trainers, lockers, showers, and large areas for dressing rooms.
Not all health clubs will have all of these facilities, which is pretty much where price comes into the picture. The fancier and more optional the club the more expensive the membership.
In order to save time, money and get the most out of your selection, consider a health club near either your home or your office, depending on your personal choice of workout time and time saving needs. Take into account the following;
- Your busiest days of the week
- Daily and weekly time constraints
- Extra curricular activities
- Kids activities
- Your child’s school location (if working out before or after your drop your child to school), and cost of gas if you’re driving.
If you are looking into having a fitness trainer then I suggest you briefly interview the trainers when you visit the facilities you are thinking of joining. Look for the following qualifications:
- How long they have been in the field?
- Where did they previously work?
- What is their area of expertise?
- Mention to them your specific needs and pay close attention to how they answer you and if they give you any suggestions on how to begin your quest for fitness.
- Look for an up beat, positive, fun personality.Trainers that house these personal traits are often more convincing, more motivating, and can keep your workout as fun and positive as possible. They will also motivate you when / if you feel like giving up, and can get you over the hurdle when you first start.
- When you interview the trainer with a small chat, give them a little test without them knowing it. For example: if you are someone who’s main focus is on losing belly fat, then do some research online first. Learn the most effective exercises today and learn the ones that experts say don’t really give the most beneficial fat burn. When you talk to the trainers tell them you are wanting to lose belly fat and what exercises would they recommend. See if they give you the old exercises or the most recent ones. Trainers, like doctors have to keep up with the ever changing information in the field of exercise and fat burning.
- When you visit the facilities watch the trainers with clients that are over weight or struggling. See if the trainer is just simply counting out the number of exercises, or are they paying attention and correcting the persons posture, and are they giving the person motivational chat. You are looking for trainers that give more than just counting down the number of reps. They should correct posture and give motivational chit chat here and there.
- A good trainer wants and needs to see his pupils persevere and succeed. This is the type of trainer you want. Not just someone going through the motions til the end of the day.
When you visit the facilities look at the equipment and assess on the following;
- Is the equipment up to date, clean and in working condition?
- Are they solid on the ground or do they wobble?
- How many of each type of machine is available? How many tread mills are there? How many bicep machines are there? How many stair masters are there? This is important because you don’t want to have to wait too long in a line to use the machine you need.
- Before you begin visiting the different facilities, get an idea of what body parts you will be wanting to work on so that you can scope out how many machines are available for that particular body part, at each facility you visit.
- Check the spacing between each of the machines. Make sure they are properly spaced for safety reasons, leaving enough room for people to safely move around them without disturbing your work out. You should not have to stop in between sets to let people pass by.
- Take note of any broken down machines. How many are broken? If a few are broken this tells you that the repair service might be slow, as usually 2-3 machines don’t break down at the same time, so there could be a delay in the fixing of the equipment for whatever reasons. Don’t be afraid to ask the management how long it takes them to repair any broken equipment.
Visit the facility in question at the time of day you are likely to hold your workout. Look for the following;
- Is it very crowded? A crowded workout place can mean, no matter if they have several machines of the same type, you will be waiting in line for quite sometime to gain access to the machine you need. It can also mean a louder atmosphere and possible waiting time for showers, lockers, etc
- The type of members in the workout area can either be of assistance to you or annoying. Members who use the gym for social hour can be annoying, as they take up time on the machines they aren’t really using and spend the workout time chit chatting to their friend. Or, chatting constantly on the phone and talking loudly.
- Are they following the clubs dress code? Dress codes are put into place for several reasons, health and cleanliness being one of them. You don’t want to work out with people who do not respect the dress code, are constantly talking or conducting business on their phones, or fighting over the volume of the music in the workout area.
- Look to work out with members that are serious about their work out and can be of motivation to you.
Health Club Staff
The staff of a health club is also an important area to look for when you are making a health club choice.
- The staff should be friendly and helpful. Not bored, chatting on their phones or having a social hour with members.
- Staff should know how to operate each and every piece of exercise equipment and should be keeping the facility clean and tidy, especially if it is a busy place.
- The staff should be knowledgeable in the clubs facilities.
- They should be clean and tidy in their uniforms and should not be working out while on duty.
- Higher level staff members should be trained in emergency procedures, such as mouth to mouth resuscitation, Heimlich Maneuver, handling a muscle pull or related injuries.
Health Club Interior
Once again, visit the facility during the time you are likely to go for your workout. Assess the following;
- Is the club clean and tidy, regardless of how busy they are?
- Are the bathrooms and changing areas free from used towels, paper towels, etc
- Are the facilities in proper working condition? Toilets that flush, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room working. Take note of how occupied these areas are. Would you have to wait to get into the sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, shower or bathroom?
- Are there enough showers to accommodate the load of members they have? Or does the club appear to be over occupied?
- The floors should be free of water for safety reasons. A little water is OK but water all over the floor should be mopped up quickly.
- Are there proper emergency exits?
- Is the health club facilities and layout user friendly and free from clutter and staff and members personal belongings?
Health Club Exterior
A person wouldn’t think this area is so important but time is usually something we all struggle with and if you have kids, or an extremely demanding job, then workouts tend to take the backseat to everything else.
- The time it takes you to get into the club and get out of the club should be importance to you if you are a person struggling with time on a daily basis.
For example: I had a membership at a health club that I loved for many reasons but when the membership finished I did not renew it because of the time and inconvenience to get into the actual health club itself. I had to walk across the parking lot due to lack of spaces close to the entrance, through the hotel, up an escalator, down a long hall, through another set of doors, then again down a flight of stairs until I reached the entrance. Leaving the club was the same distance. I didn’t mind the walk but I did mind the wasted time it took me going to and from the facility. I also didn’t particularly care for walking through a 5 Star Deluxe Hotel in work out clothes.
- The exterior should also be cared for and kept clean of litter, broken down cars taking up parking spaces and solicitors. The Club should also have ample parking to save you time from having to drive around looking for a parking space.
Consider Your Personal Desires
For most people embarking on an exercise plan isn’t really something they look forward to. If you are someone who loathes exercise but knows it is part of keeping healthy and fit then assess your personal needs and make the health club fit into those needs as much as possible. If you love to pamper yourself and find it is something that may help you make it to your workouts then consider joining a place where you can also look after your skin and beauty needs or whatever areas you like to pamper yourself in.
I personally love the steam room and have found it very useful when using skin polishing and skin care products. So for me, I think of how much relaxation I will get when I finish my workout and relax in the steam room while my skin goodies work their magic. I also increase my workouts every 3 weeks so a jacuzzi for soar muscles is an absolute must. I hate carrying my large and heavy gym bag every day so I looked for a club that would let me have my own locker and key if I take a one year membership. I admit I got lucky with the locker but don’t be afraid to ask for the little things that give you comfort and ease.
The point is, think about your personal loves, and enjoyments and fit those into your routine as much as possible. This will help you make it to your workouts and struggle a little less to get there. And, when you really go for it, and you are sticking to it, give yourself a reward at the end of each month – not for losing the weight, slimming down, or building muscle, but for your efforts and perseverance.
Assess Your Motivation Level and Personal Perseverance Qualities
Think deeply about your level of motivation. Are you a person who can push themselves even when you hate doing something? Can you continuously push yourself? Or, does it take you time to get motivated? Do you quit things and then start up again and then quit until it finally sticks with you?
This is important to your selection process. Joining an expensive health club when chances are you might quit after a few weeks is only going to waste your money and frustrate you even more when you quit. It is better to gain your motivation and get used to exercising using a cheaper facility and pay either monthly or quarterly. This way, if you quit after a few weeks you will not have wasted money. Once you get used to working out and it becomes easier for you, you can always go for the up market health clubs.
If you know that you will never be motivated without all the good stuff then join a fully functional club but pay monthly or quarterly until you are sure you are going to be using your membership to it’s fullest. Then consider a yearly membership which will usually save you a few bucks.
If you think you will feel self conscious at a public health club facility then do your workouts at home until you have accomplished enough of what you need to, then consider membership when you are comfortable with yourself and your accomplishments.
There can be many health club facilities in your area and narrowing down the search can be a task on it’s own Here are few things to help speed up the process and keep you organized in your quest.
- What is your budget? Decide your budget and go from there.
- Use the phone book and write down the health clubs that fit your location preference.
- Write down the address, telephone number and website address if they have one.
- Use the health clubs website to find out details that might help you narrow your search and save time by not visiting clubs that do not suit your preferences.
- Call each place and tell them you are coming in for a tour of the club and would like to meet with someone who will show you around. Give them a time you will come to ensure someone is available to give you a tour and hopefully not make you wait. You may want to use this time to find out their pricing scale if it wasn’t on their website. Maybe they are out of your budget so you don’t need to waste time on seeing their facilities.
- When you are ready to start visiting the facilities you have narrowed down, choose a day that you don’t need to rush and can take your time. Get directions if you need them so you don’t waste time getting lost. Make sure to take the telephone number of the clubs with you in case you get lost you can easily call them.
- Make a note of how much time it took you from your house to the club and back. Try and visit the clubs at the time you would normally go for your workouts and assess the traffic at that time to each of the clubs.
- Take notes on each club you visit in order to properly assess your findings when you get home.
- See if you have any friends or relatives that have membership to any of the clubs and get their rating of the facility. You can also see if that club has a special offer for existing members that bring in business. Sometimes health clubs have special offers where the existing member gets a discount if they renew their membership and the new member will get an immediate discount or coupons for free classes.
- Write down the pros and cons of each club.
Get your kids working out with you!
If you have kids, see if the health club you choose has kids workout classes. You can both work out and motivate each other and talk about your successes, difficulties, and strengths. You will also be motivating your kids to keep fit and healthy as they watch you do the same.
Before selecting a health club look closely at your own personal needs and desires first. Closely assess the clubs facilities and ensure they are in good working order and condition. Make sure the staff are professional and fitness trainers are educated in their field and posses motivating qualities. Look closely at the interior and exterior of the club and assess safety and health conditions. Assess the type of members the club has by visiting each club during the time in which you plan to work out in order to gauge their members, trainers, equipment usage and cleanliness. Think of a health club as sort of a home away from home, so make sure your health club home is one that best suits who you are, what you need, and your personal attributes on a regular basis.