How to Choose the Best Gym for You

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Whether you're beginning your fitness journey or simply looking for a change of scenery, choosing a gym can be a complicated decision. If you live in a larger town or city, you may have multiple facilities to choose from, all offering similar equipment and training options. And with the rise of focused, single-activity facilities such as Flywheel or Pure Barre, the selection process is only getting harder. How do you know if you're choosing the right gym for you? Here are four things to keep in mind as you search for a new facility.

Tours

Don't join a gym based on its online pictures. Most multi-location gyms will use the same images across the board, rather than including pictures of individual facilities. Take an in-person tour of the space to get a good look at what you'll be signing up for. If you notice things like broken or disorganized equipment or dirty training areas, you may want to continue your search. You can also talk to a staff member to get a better idea of what the facility offers. Some questions you could ask include:

What kind of training programs are offered here?
What is the busiest time of day?
What are your hours?
What’s included with a basic membership? 

Equipment and Training

If you want a general workout space with basic equipment and training options, your average mixed-equipment gym is a great option. These gyms feature everything from free weights to cardio machines to stretching areas, and many offer additional training features like workout classes or personal training. Gyms with more locations generally offer lower membership rates but may not have the same sense of community as locally owned and operated facilities.

If you're looking for a specific piece of equipment or training option, you may need to join a more specialized gym or upgrade to a higher membership level. For example, if you want to swim laps in addition to your strength training, you'll need a gym with a pool or a membership at your local aquatic center.

Community and Environment

When you picture yourself going to the gym, who else is there? Are you surrounded by fellow spin enthusiasts? Is everyone curling weights in tank tops, or are they shuffling in for a quick sweat before work? Wherever you exercise, make sure you feel comfortable with your facility's community and environment. If you're looking for a social setting, consider choosing a gym that offers group training, special events or other people-to-people workout options. If you're just beginning your fitness journey, look for a gym that offers beginner classes or advertises an inclusive environment. You don't have to exercise in a stinky garage or a posh studio if it doesn't suit your workout style. 

Specialized Facilities

Lifting weights over and over or logging miles on a treadmill isn't fun for everyone. If a basic mixed-equipment gym sounds like a bore to you, try looking into memberships at specialized facilities―also known as fitness studios. You could take kickboxing classes at your local 9Round, stretch out at an aerial yoga studio or spin to the beat of fun music at a CycleBar. If several fitness options sound intriguing, see if your city has a multi-facility membership program like ClassPass. This allows you to sign up for classes at different facilities under one membership, so you can mix up your workouts whenever you want. No matter what gym or facility you choose, make sure you're having fun!

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