1-2-3 Steps to Finding the Right FIT for a Gym

Written by Libby Norris

Does your spring training plan include making the leap to join a gym? Although making that commitment is a big step, choosing what gym to join can end up being an even tougher one.

The good news - there is an unlimited selection of clubs, classes and programs from which to choose. When you find the one, it can provide invaluable motivation and inspiration to move you towards your goals. The bad news - more options can make your decision overwhelming and unfortunately, the wrong fit can leave you feeling disheartened, intimidated and back to square one.

So how do you find that perfect fit and increase your chances of success? Follow these three key steps to make sure your fitness program ends up steering you in the right direction.

#1 - Create a shopping list! You want to identify your "must have" list - a mixed club, a women's club, classes, daycare, training, swimming? You also want to determine the hours you need those activities. There's no sense is finding the ultimate Pilates class offered at a time you can't go! 

Your shopping list should include both features and atmosphere - is it family-based, intense, is it inclusive and welcoming? Also, is it targeted to a specific group - running, yoga - or do you prefer to cross over for variety or to try new things?

#2 - Make your short list. Start to make a list of gyms and programs that are close and convenient to either work or home. No matter how great a place is, proximity is key, particularly on those days when you're not feeling so motivated!

 Get referrals from friends and colleagues, but remember their goals and preferences may be different. Ask them what it is that makes it stand out for them to make sure it's an important feature for you as well.

Note their hours of operation on your short list. Again, you don't want to get drawn in to join thinking you're going to shift your schedule. It can happen, but if motivation is a challenge, it ends up being one more reason NOT to go!

#3 - Finally, visit the gym. Make your visit during the time you'll be likely to be going. This will allow you to see how long it takes to get there, how busy it is, parking availability and features available at that time.

Other important notes to make include staffing - are they welcoming, are qualifications posted, do they have a professional appearance and approach? The front reception is your first contact and can often reflect the kind of service you can expect to find overall.

Cleaning and maintenance are two more key elements. Make sure you check out the change rooms! Also make note of the gym area. Are there adequate cleaning solutions and disposable towels for members to wipe down equipment after use? If these aren't plentiful and convenient, you can be sure you're going to be sharing someone else's sweat on the cardio equipment and mats! Keep your eye out for "out of service" signs. If there are more than a couple of cardio machines out of order at any time, it can be a red flag for how on top of service and follow up the club actually is.

Now you're ready to compare price. As you visit the few spots on your short list, make notes on their pricing and policies - is the pricing clear, are there any extras? What seems to be the least expensive up front may not be is you have to pay for towels, classes, lockers, etc. You also want to check on their cancellation policy. This isn't defeating you before you begin, however, you do want to make sure there are options in place to put a hold on your membership if you do have an unforeseen emergency. You also want to know what time frames and commitment are for membership just in case it doesn't end up meeting your needs.

Finally, ask if they have a week pass or trial offer. There's nothing like being there for a workout to really see if you like it. Having a workout will allow you to see if you really are comfortable with the atmosphere, the program and the people.

Take your time in research and leg work to ensure the program you find supports you and your goals! Finding the right fitness program really can be more than a workout - it can end up adding incredible value for inspiration, education and provide a strong social connection - it really can change your life!

Always consult your health care professional before making any significant changes in your dietary habits or your physical activity routines.

*©, 2013 Trademark of Kellogg Company used under license by Kellogg NA Co

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