Know the perks of being a member: Sometimes there are little known incentives that come with joining a gym. Ask about a free fitness consultation and a complimentary personal training session. Then, check to see if someone is available to give you an equipment orientation. Do new members get discounts on classes or training packages? Maybe this gym partners with local business to provide discounts and cross-promotions. You'll never know until you ask.
Examine the equipment: You can learn a lot about a gym from the type of equipment they have. If you see line after line of cardio and exercise machines, chances are good that you'll be among casual exercisers. They probably have some kind of machine circuit. On the other hand, if all you see are free weights, power racks, lifting platforms and chalk, know that you will be training with individuals who take their training seriously. One option isn't better than the other; they're just different. Choose the equipment and environment that's best for you.
Avoid the crowds: Be sure to ask the fitness attendants and staff about the number of members who belong to the gym. Are there machines or classes that fill up quickly? Are certain times more crowded than others? It's good to know this information upfront.
Make sure it's clean: The gym is a place people go to sweat. They probably smell a little, too. It's only natural, but you don't want to be cleaning up or stepping over puddles of sweat. Take a look at the floor and peek into the corners. Are they clean? Don't hesitate to ask how often the floors and equipment are cleaned. And don't forget to check out the cleanliness of the locker rooms and showers.
Be sure the price is right: All things considered, your decision will be based largely on the price. Sometimes the price isn't set in stone, so ask if there are any options available that could lower the cost. Students, teachers, firefighters, EMTs, police and military members might qualify for a discount or special rate. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure you aren't committing to a lengthy membership complete with a hefty cancellation fee. That should be a deal breaker—no matter how nice the facilities are.
Stay in shape in a fitness class.