If you are planning to join a gym this is a must-read for you. If you’ve never been to one before, the chances are you will be suckered into choosing the flashiest gym in the neighbourhood, one that is part of an established chain or one that promises the most drastic results. You need to realise that most claims made by them are marketing gimmicks to lure consumers. Getting results from a gym is dependent on many factors – your personal dedication level, the rapport you share with trainers and fellow gym-goers, the crowds that throng the gym during peak hours, the different types of programmes they offer and most importantly the quality of the staff. You also need to watch out for shady deals, fast weight loss packages and similar offers that seem to be too good to be true. Here are some things you should keep in mind while choosing a gym:
Never ever pick a gym that is far away. Your gym should ideally be located near your home or office. It should be easily accessible at all times. If you have to travel for long to reach your gym, the chances are that you’ll soon start finding excuses not to go there.
This is the first thing you’ll be shown the moment are given an introductory tour. Every decent gym should have the following – treadmill, elliptical, spinner, stationary cycle, rowing machine, stepper, free weights, weight machines and abdominal machines (most gyms have more than one kind). These are the very basic facilities you should look out for. Don’t be fooled by gyms which have more than one variety of similar machines. The aforementioned ones are enough for a good workout. You should check for their condition and maintenance. Also try and visit the gym during the time you’d want to regularly workout so you can gauge how crowded the gym is at that moment and if the machines and equipment are available.
It would also be a wise idea to take a closer look in the locker room to see if there is enough locker space to keep your belongings. You should also check the condition of toilets, steam room, massage room (if any), etc. Besides basic hygiene, good maintenance of the aforementioned facilities will give you an insight on the gym’s overall efficiency and maintenance-levels.
More than the facilities a gym’s credence is determined the quality of personnel they hire. Check how good the trainers, dieticians and other staff members are. There are some easy ways to do this.
Most gyms have trainers of two varieties – personal trainers or general fitness instructors. The moment you enter a gym you can see whether they’re paying attention to clients, giving them instructions, checking their postures or just milling around talking among themselves. Good ones will never do the latter. Their physical condition will also be a yardstick. Good trainers will always be physically fit themselves.If you intend to opt for a personal trainer (you should if it’s your first time), ask the management to give you a trial version with him. The rapport you share with him/her is very important, so you should try and get to know the person. In case of dieticians, you should ask for their credentials and see whether they have done an accredited nutritional course which allows them to practice as nutritionists or dieticians.
Another important feature of any gym is the kind of crowd that hangs out there. If you observe any regular gym-goer, you’ll realise that they tend to develop a close personal bond with others who work out there. This helps build a sense of camaraderie among them and in the long run your gym crowd will become your support group which will help you follow a healthy lifestyle.
Before you settle on a gym, always compare the prices. Most gyms will have a variety of saver deals – couple offers, discounts at different times, various weight loss packages and a variety of other offers. Don’t get fooled by them. Always compare them to basic offers (yearly membership). I will give you an example. A gym offered me a yearly membership fee and a 30 kg weight loss package for Rs 30,000 for a year. It also had a five kg package which cost just Rs 15,000 and the yearly membership fees were somewhere around Rs 10,000. The weight loss packages usually have some free dietician meetings and massages thrown in. But to be honest I never found them useful and they were a waste of money. Plus the 30 kg weight loss package offers nothing different from the 5 kg package. So be very careful about offers from a particular gym because they usually give the same service irrespective of what various offers say.
Another thing you should check before joining a gym is what different alternatives they offer to your run-of-the-mill cardio machines and weight training. Many people tend to get bored with regular workouts and these sorts of group activities not only breaks the monotony but also helps you broaden your horizon and find more exciting ways to stay fit. Look out for separate classes for activities like aerobics, spinning, power yoga, Pilates, etc. Check if they’re being offered by professionals or the regular gym instructors. If it’s the regular gym instructors, the chances are they aren’t very good. Another thing you should keep in mind is whether these classes are part of the package the gym offers.
But the most important thing you’ve to realise is that the gym or fitness trainer is not going to be the deciding factor for you to achieve your fitness goals.. Before you join a gym, you have to make sure that you are in the right frame of mind. The choices you made before should have no bearing on your present state of being. Different people have different expectations from a gym – some want to lose weight, some want to gain weight, while others simply want to get fitter. Whatever your goals, you need to make sure that nothing, absolutely nothing comes between you and your work-out.First Published: Jan 23, 2013 at 9:07 AM