I’m on a fit and strong journey to find my strongest self. Although I’ve had a number of missteps, one of the worst so far has been wasting a year of my life because I joined the wrong gym. I really wanted to share my experience and write a post about how to find a gym that’s right for you because it’s so important and makes such a difference to getting results.
I moved to a new city (hello Sydney!) at the end of 2016 and although I knew that I wanted to join a gym straight away I took my time to familiarise myself with my surroundings. When I was ready I had already researched the gyms that were close to home and work and I knew roughly what they provided.
One Saturday morning I toured the nearby gyms, visiting each location and receiving a tour of the facilities and equipment. The tours usually included a breakdown of rates and what you get for your money at each gym. I decided to do this around New Years Eve also so most of the gyms had some kind of special rate to lock you in for a 12 month contract.
I chose the gym I liked and I retuned after work on Monday to sign up for my membership. I got 7 days free and then I was locked in for 12 months.
The gym was a great facility with up to date equipment, plenty of space and it was only a short drive from my home. There were classes, personal trainers and everything that I needed to be successful.
It wasn’t long before I realised the gym was great on the surface but it just wasn’t for me. This resulted in me showing up sporadically for a year and walking on the treadmill for the best part of an hour then towards the end of the year I stopped going altogether.
I found that although the gym seemed like it would be great for me – the attitude of the staff and personal trainers wasn’t supportive, the weight room was intimidating for women and they didn’t do anything to alleviate that. Classes, even though they were on a great timetable never had availability or any booking system so although I wanted to try Spin and Barre, I could never get a spot because the people that went already had an ongoing book out of the spaces. Honestly, I probably could have complained about the situation but at this point I was disheartened and disengaged.
Coming from someone who has made this mistake, and really this was just the most recent iteration of this particular error here are my suggestions in finding the right gym for you:
Understand what you want in a gym
The first step in finding a gym that’s right for you is understanding how you will use it and what you want to get out of it. Are you looking for a gym that you can prioritise weight-training, cardio or yoga? Or are you looking for a gym that you can balance a number of different disciplines? The gym you’re looking for might not be traditional, you might flourish at a Crossfit gym or F45 instead.
The importance of understanding this early in the process is key in finding success when you do eventually make a commitment. If you’re in the very early stages of your fitness journey you may not know how you want to work out or what kind of work outs will be best for you, each gym will provide a trial generally 7 days in length but sometimes a bit longer, if you’re unsure at any point undertake trials at multiple gyms although this won’t show you how the gym will be in the long term, you’ll get an idea of how the gym operates and what the workouts and equipment is like.
Take a tour of potential gyms
Touring potential locations is an important step in the process, especially if you are able to do this at the time you would go and work out during your normal routine. A tour provides you with the opportunity to gauge how busy the gym is at the time and take a look at the equipment, extra facilities and changing facilities.
The gym staff should take you through the packages available and talk to you about a free trial so you have the opportunity to try first before making a more substantial commitment.
During these tours it’s important to ask a lot of questions like availability of Personal Trainers, what facilities are included in your membership, safety measures for when the gym is unmanned if there is 24 hour access and anything you might want to know about the locker and shower facilities.
Consider all the variables
Although it seems obvious but before you land on a gym considering all of the variables will help ensure you make the right decision. One of the reasons I went with my failed decision was purely on cost – I compared it to a far superior gym and because it was slightly cheaper I decided to go there instead. Although cost is a factor when deciding, to set yourself up for success this shouldn’t be the only factor you consider.
Think about how accessible the location is; do you feel comfortable with car parking and the location at night and is it easy to get to early in the morning?
What’s the general vibe of the staff that you’ve noticed?
What’s your deal breaker?
Ironically the gym that I’m at now where I’m finding all of my results was one of the locations I had initially considered, actually it was the one that I decided not to pay for because the cost was a little more than the brand I chose instead.
Now, I wish I had made the decision to just spend a little more money in the first place – I wouldn’t have wasted an entire year of my life trying to make something work that was never really right for me.I know now that my deal breaker was a number of things but mostly the support I was getting back from the brand I chose wasn’t enough for the commitment I made in sweat, money and time.
Now, I’m working with a Personal Trainer, I go to some fantastic classes, I train in the weight room and I’m more inclined to put more in to the gym myself because I get so much more out of it.
So before you decide: What’s your deal breaker?