Joining a gym is one of the most common lifestyle changes people make as the calendar turns. January is a time for new beginnings and setting goals. Whether you want to improve your health or merely shed a few pounds from holiday indulgences, starting a fitness plan can be a great way to achieve your ambitions.
Before you sign on the dotted line, here’s what you need to know to make sure the gym is right for you.
Gyms tend to open very early and close late at night. Most people find it helpful to follow some type of regimen. Early risers love to start the day off with a workout before heading to the office, while others find a good sweat to be just what they need at the end of the day. Some even like to exercise on their lunch break. Determine your best availability to fit in some gym time and work from there.
Group exercise is a great way to get in shape and burn calories. Any quality gym will offer a wide variety of classes that increase endurance, build muscle, or both. Aerobic kickboxing, step aerobics, and studio cycling are just a few examples of classes designed to help you work up a good sweat. Weigh the class selections at area gyms against your own interests. Classes are also a great way to build camaraderie and foster dedication to your goals.
Hiring a personal trainer was one of the best decisions I ever made, as he helped me increase my fitness level and was a fountain of knowledge I could draw from. If you have the means to hire one, you probably won’t regret the decision. A quality trainer who knows what he or she is doing will have a national certification or a degree in exercise science, kinesiology, or a similar field. Ask the gyms in your area if they require this certification of their staff. Some common personal trainer certifications can be obtained from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the International Sports Science Association (ISSA), or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), to name a few.
Quality gyms will have a plethora of free weights, strength training machines, and dumbbells if you’re looking to build some muscle. The cardio section should have plenty of treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, and stair steppers. The more options, the better: not only will it keep your workout from getting boring, but you won’t have to wait when the gym gets busy.
Locker Room Facilities
A quality locker room should first and foremost offer a comfortable changing area with an abundance of lockers. The facilities should be extremely clean, and there should be enough showers so that you’re not forced to wait for other patrons to finish. If the gym has a steam room or a sauna, even better.
These general guidelines have helped me to choose great gyms for myself in the past. What factors do you value most when joining a gym?
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