Finding the Right Gym for You
Here are 10 questions to ask before joining a fitness center.
6. What Amenities Are Offered?
In addition to access to machines and free weights, most memberships at
full-service clubs include group fitness classes, lockers and showers, towels
and -- depending on the size of the club -- racquetball and tennis courts, and
There could also be services you pay extra for, like personal training,
massage, a restaurant, and child care facilities.
If the club you choose offers many of these options, expect to pay more than
you would to join a small fitness center with a few treadmills and free
7. What Are the Hours?
Consider your own schedule here. Don't necessarily be lured by a gym that's
open 24 hours, or turned off by one that keeps banker's hours. The important
thing is that it is open when you plan to work out.
''If the facility has limited hours and you need more flexibility, then it's
not the best choice for you,'' warns Bryant.
On the other hand, if you have a flexible schedule, you may be able to save
money and time with a mid-day membership. This is the least busy time at a gym;
so it may offer lower prices for those willing to come during these off-peak
Visit the gym during the hours you will be working out. This will give you a
feel for how busy the club will be and what's offered.
''Sometimes if you visit during non-peak times, that's not how it's going to
be. If you're going to be fighting for machines, you may not like that,''
''Lots of times, people will say, 'We have 50 classes a week','' says
VanDyke, ''but you're not going to be there 24 hours a day. If you can only go
between 5 and 6 a.m., there probably aren't a lot of classes being taught at
If you want classes, find out when the ones you want are offered. If you
want to swim, find out when the open swim times are and be sure they fit your
schedule, she says.
''Before you sign a contract or put down that registration fee,'' says
VanDyke, ''take a step back and figure out what is available during the hours
you can get to the gym.''
8. What Is the Total Cost?
Fitness is not cheap. Whether you join a studio or a full-service gym with
day care, showers and a pool, you'll be incurring a new expense.
''Unfortunately, people do not look at it as an investment in their
body," says VanDyke. "They look at it as another bill.''
Cost is usually tied to what the gym has to offer, says VanDyke. Don't pay
for the newest, nicest health club if you're never going to need the showers,
the lockers, child care, or the pool. If all you want is to run on a treadmill,
there may be a less expensive option in your area. Instead of $150 a month, you
might pay $30.