If you’re like me, you ended the year celebrating the holiday season just a little too much and you’ve started the new year looking for the perfect gym to undo the damage of rich desserts and not enough activity.
Finding the right fitness facility can be tricky if you’re looking for more than just the lowest-cost option.
“You need to assess your fitness goals before selecting the best gym for you,” said Janette Westman, workplace wellness consultant, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Do you want a basic gym with treadmills for a daily run or walk, for example, or do you prefer one with a variety of classes or state-of-the art equipment to keep you motivated?”
My needs as a gym buff have evolved over the years. When I was a broke, recent college graduate, I went with the cheapest option. All I needed was a place to run in the winter—at the lowest possible price!
As I earned a little more, I gravitated toward facilities that also had early morning spinning classes. But once I had kids and was paying daycare bills (yup, I was broke again!), I gravitated toward the free workplace gym.
Given my holiday weight gain, I’m now also hunting for a fitness facility to use on the weekends, when I don’t want to trek into work to work out. I’m considering a gym or a facility that also offers classes, such as kickboxing.
Westman, a former personal trainer, offers the following tips for finding the right fitness facility in the new year:
- Location: People often stop exercising because they lack the time. If you exercise after work, select a gym close to your employer. Weekend warriors in the battle against the bulge may want a facility close to home.
- Hours of operation: The gym should be open when you plan to exercise. Early birds, for example, may need a fitness center that opens at the crack of dawn to allow for the 5 a.m. swim before work.
- Classes: Ask if classes such as spinning and yoga cost extra. If you’re solely interested in classes, a studio instead of a fitness facility may be a better option.
- Equipment quality: Ensure the cardio and weight machines are clean and in good condition.
- Staff: Are staff members friendly and qualified with the right certifications? You may want a gym with fitness trainers and dieticians to help you get healthier.
- Free trial pass: Test the gym during the times you’ll likely exercise. Is it too crowded? Are the classes, equipment, and atmosphere right for you? Are showers and changing facilities up to par? Is the parking convenient? Will you feel comfortable asking staff for advice or posing questions, such as how to use unfamiliar equipment?
- Cost: Ask if the gym will waive the enrollment fee so that you’re only responsible for the monthly dues.
Important Tip: Some health care insurers may offer a benefit that helps pay for a gym membership. Be sure to check your policy to see what’s available to you. Don’t leave money on the table!