If you’ve decided you want to get a gym membership and start a gym routine, you’ll want to read this before you spend your money. Gym memberships can range from £10-£150+ a month.
Location is much more impotant than price, if you work away from home you might want to consider spending more on a gym that you can get to in your lunch hour or before work. It’s well worth spending double on a gym membership you’ll use rather than a gym membership that gets used a couple of times a month.
2) Membership Flexibility
This is the next most important factor, can you quickly cancel your membership due to a change of job, injury or change of location? Make sure if you are paying for a yearly membership you will use it for the entire time, and if not make sure it’s a good deal
3) Opening Hours
Similar to location, having a gym membership that you use is twice as valuable that one that you don’t use.
Make sure the gym you want to sign up to is open when you can use it e.g before work or late at night. The gym I use is actually closed 09:00-13:00 3 days a week due to University lectures.
Does the gym have the right equipment for the programme you want to follow? If you don’t have a programme yet you want to see lots of free weights and some machines. It must have a squat rack, not just a smith machine and a flat bench, it should have a couple of power racks and some leg press, calf raise and cable machines are useful. Make sure the dumbbells go heavy, up to 50 kg or 100 pounds, but make sure if your gym doesn’t have some machines and heavy dumbbells that you can get out of the membership as soon as you outgrow the gym.
Check to see if the gym has a good stretching area with space and maybe foam rollers if you use them. Stretching is vital for my workout as I have muscular problems that restrict me from pushing fully in a workout unless they’re sorted before and warmed down after each workout.
Do you occasionally need to do cardio, or do you fit cardio in after your workout
I think busyness is a word. Look out for the emptier gyms rather than the corporate chain gyms that get packed. Commercial gyms tend to be busy before and after work and busy all morning until early afternoon on week-ends. University gyms tend to be packed on a monday night, but mornings, Thursday- Saturday nights are quite empty.
6) Extras Free, Cheap or Expensive?
Some people don’t want any extras then this isn’t for you. Check to see if your membership includes any free physio/yoga or swimming pool sessions. I know if I could find a gym with this included I’d sign up straight away. If not check to see if the extra classes are expesive or relatively cheap. If it’s £5 a week realise it’s going to build up to double or triple the cost of your gym membership.
7) Do You Want A Gym In The First Place
If you’re going just to do cardio, find the cheapest gym around or just find a cycling club or similar. Same for if you do yoga 6 times a week and want to go to the gym once or twice. Sign up to a yoga studio and do a home workout. Maybe you can’t get time to get to any gym, maybe a home bodyweight workout is hard enough to build the muscle and burn the fat you want.
8) Personal Trainers
Similar to extras, personal trainers can cost £45+ a session. Check to see if you get a workout review every 4 weeks or something similar. You don’t need a personal trainer but it can help. The best way to avoid personal training fees is to get it included in the membership. Or get a gym buddy and find a good free online workout to start with.
This is quite hard to come by, but by finding a locally owned gym you can find some really dedicated lifters who, just by learning from and training around, your results can be multiplied. Realise this could be the difference between going 3 times and hating the gym or getting massive motivation and going to the gym for the next 5-25 years of your life.
If you know what you want from a gym you can now find which gym is right for you. The best gyms tend to be University gyms for uncrowded space at the right times and great performance facilities, e.g lots of power racks, cables, benches and heavy dumbbells, this is especially true at sport science Universities.
See if you can demo a gym for a week or two, or find one cheap enough to try it out for a month. Don’t be afraid to shop around many different gyms, consider making your own home gym, check gumtree and ebay as you can occasionally find cheap power racks. That’s great if you have the space but if not maybe just start off with a home workout.