How to Choose a Gym

From the WebMD Archives

To stay committed to your fitness journey, consider signing up for a gym membership. Exercising at a gym diversifies your workout options because they provide cardio and strength-training equipment. You can also attend fitness and aerobic classes while getting help from a personal trainer. If you enjoy these workout options, you will have a better chance of staying consistent in your fitness journey.

Before you sign up for any gym membership, there are important considerations to make. Remember that you will invest your money, time, and energy into the gym, and it's vital that you make the best choice. The right gym will also help you meet your training and fitness goals.

Which Type of Gym is Best

The type of gym you choose should depend on the level you are at in your fitness journey.

Beginners. If you are a beginner in your fitness journey, you likely have never set foot in a gym before. You may feel intimidated by the free weights area, cardio equipment for weight loss, and resistance training equipment for muscle building and toning.

As a beginner, you need to spend time familiarizing yourself with this equipment. You will need to use a range of equipment to work out your whole body.

Intermediate and advanced level. If you have been consistently training for the last 6-12 months, you can consider yourself an intermediate trainee. If you have achieved most of the goals you had for your fitness journey, you can consider yourself an advanced trainee.

If you're in one of these categories, you're likely doing a combination of free weight and bodyweight exercises, isolation workouts, and compound movements. Choose a gym that has the facilities that let you perform all of these routines.

Additionally, if you’re an advanced-level trainee and engage in a lot of compound exercises, look for a gym with several free squat racks in addition to Smith Machines. Squats are essential as part of a compound exercise. When you perform them on a squat rack, you activate your stabilizer strength more intensely than when using a Smith Machine.

Women trainees. If you are a woman and prefer going to a gym that caters to your unique needs, look for one that has more than just treadmills and weight benches. You also want an inclusive community where everyone can exercise in a respectful, friendly, and welcoming atmosphere.


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Gym

In addition to the equipment and machines available in the gym you choose, you'll also need to check other factors that will make or break your gym experience, such as:

  • Gym hours. You're a busy person trying to balance family, work, exercise, and rest. As such, you only have so much time to spare, and you want a gym that can conveniently accommodate your busy schedule. One that opens late or closes early may not leave you with enough time to exercise. You also want to find out what the trainers offer during those hours when they’re open.
  • Training options. Will the gym allow you to guide yourself, or must you be guided by a professional? How do the trainers conduct their sessions? Do they prefer individual or group training?
  • Location. You don't want to sign up for a gym so far away from your home or workplace that getting there is a challenge in itself. Having a gym in a convenient location will increase the likelihood of showing up more often and achieving your goals sooner.
  • The gym’s cleanliness. Are the facilities, equipment, and bathrooms clean? What is the gym doing during COVID-19 to protect trainees and trainers free from the virus? Check if they offer towels if you forget to bring yours. Are there locker rooms to change in and other essential amenities?
  • Staff. It would be unfair to size up the gym staff as a whole, but this is a factor you need to check out before signing up for a membership. However, the best approach would be to ask about the staff qualifications, especially the trainers. Find out if there is a go-to person if you have personal fitness questions.
  • Member privileges. Some gyms have perks that will keep you hooked to their services forever. For example, some offer guest passes for family and friends. Others offer paid or free child services, while others have an open juice bar. All these services and amenities come in different package tiers. Check what you need now and in the future to ensure it’s exactly what you need.

Overall, you want to choose a gym that offers you value for your money. The cost of membership should not be the only consideration you make despite being the most significant determining factor.

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 12, 2021



Better Health: “Physical activity- choosing the one for you.”

Europe’s Journal of Psychology: “Training at the Gym, Training for Life: Creating Better Versions of the Self Through Exercise.”

Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute: “Removing barriers to Health Clubs and Fitness Facilities.”

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Harvard Health Publishing: “Tips for Choosing the right exercise equipment.”

Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure: “Behavioral Changes in Gym Attending Due to COVID-19 Pandemic: A descriptive Survey.”

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: “A Comparison of Free Weight Squat to Smith Machine Squat using Electromyography.”

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© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.


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