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Before You Join a Gym ...

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Gina Harney - Blogs
By Gina HarneyCertified personal trainerDecember 23, 2019
From the WebMD Archives

As we head to the New Year, you may be planning to set new fitness goals and change up your workout routines. Gyms tend to capitalize on this time period by either opening new studios or sharing some pretty sweet discounts with potential members. Before you sign on the dotted line and join a new gym or purchase a class pack, a few tips:

  • Make sure it’s something you actually enjoy. This seems like an obvious one, but class packs or gym memberships often seem more appealing when they’re “on sale.” Remember that deeply discounted shirt you convinced yourself you’d wear but never did? The same thing can happen with a gym membership. If you have to convince yourself in any way that it might be worthwhile or useful, it may end up like that shirt – in the back of the closet, untouched and tags intact. Instead, look for something else that makes you feel instantly excited.
  • Try before you buy. If you haven’t ever tried the gym or studio you’re considering, take advantage of their free or discounted introductory passes before you sign up. Many studios will offer a first class free opportunity, or a very discounted two-week pass. During this trial period, see how often you’ll actually use it and then determine if it’s worth the money.
  • Look for any red flags. To me, these are things like cleanliness, staff (certifications and demeanor), safety and variety of the equipment, and members. Check out what kind of vibe they have. The best gyms have a variety of members - not just all big dudes grunting and throwing barbells onto the ground - and a mix of classes. Some things I personally look for: cleaning wipes accessible by all of the equipment (especially cardio machines), a friendly face at the front desk, the certifications that they require from instructors and trainers (you can always ask!), and the classes on the schedule. Equipment-wise, I don’t look for a lot of variety because you can get a great workout with a pair of dumbbells, but I make sure that everything looks safe (no machines that are obviously on their last leg) and clean. It’s a bonus if they have fun gym tools and new cardio equipment.
  • Read the contract thoroughly. Check for any hidden fees and look at their cancellation policy. Can you put your membership on hold if needed? What happens if you cancel early? Don’t be afraid to negotiate for a lower monthly payment or a waived enrollment fee.
  • Make sure it’s convenient. How easy is it for you to get to the gym? Do they have parking available? Make sure that this will be a hassle-free addition to your life instead of an added stressor, like a gym that’s 40+ minutes away without a dedicated parking lot. If there are classes you’d like to take, make sure that the timing works with your schedule and that you’re able to get in. (For example, many early morning classes are waistlisted very quickly so it can be challenging to get a spot.)

If it’s your first time joining a gym, I just want to send you a little virtual high five! I hope you find one that meets all of your needs and helps you reach your fitness goals.

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About the Author
Gina Harney

Gina Harney is the blogger behind the healthy lifestyle brand, The Fitnessista, which reaches millions of viewers all over the world. She’s been featured on Greatist, Forbes, Buzzfeed, Shape, Fitness Magazine, and Well + Good. She’s the author of “HIIT It!” and the voice behind the Healthy In Real Life podcast. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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