Sunday, February 3, 2008

How To Choose A Fitness Center

Joining a gym or fitness center is a terrific way to keep up with your exercise goals. Instead of paying thousands of dollars on your own home fitness equipment, you’ll have access to treadmills, elliptical trainers, weight machines and more as a gym member. In most cases, you’ll also have access to group exercise classes, personal training services and other added features like nutritionist services or team sports leagues.

Getting a gym membership is also a great choice if you think you’ll have trouble sticking to your fitness program. The monetary commitment you make may make you more likely to stick with it. Some gyms even go so far as to call you if you’ve been out for awhile, helping you to stay on track with your workouts.

However, picking the best fitness center for your needs requires a little research. Some gyms have strict membership policies that can’t be cancelled for a year. Others may have short hours, which can be a problem if you like to work out late at night. Here are a few tips on finding the best fitness center for you:

Know your own needs

Do you need access to good weight machines to keep you in peak physical fitness? Or are you just interested in spending a half hour on the treadmill, three times per week? Is it important for your gym to offer group exercise classes? Is the location close to your house or will you have to drive a half hour each way just to work out?

Make a list of all the things you want from a gym. Remember, you’re going to be paying for this, so take the time to identify your needs and you won’t be disappointed.

Shop around

When you visit a gym as a prospective member, you’ll probably be given a tour and a sales pitch designed to get you to sign up for a membership on the spot. Resist the temptation! Take the time to visit all the gyms in your area to be sure you’ve found the best fit for you.

Once you’ve identified a few finalists, take advantage of any free trial memberships the gyms offer. By actually using the gym, you’ll learn much more than you did on your introductory tour. Yes, the gym might have state of the art changing rooms, but if you can’t ever get a shower before work, consider looking somewhere else.

Consider your budget

It’s great to find a gym that meets all your needs, but if you can’t afford it, then it doesn’t matter. Research your budget and stick to it when you choose your fitness center.

Also, take into consideration any extra fees you might encounter. If you really want to take group classes, see if they’re included in your membership or if they cost extra. Will you have to pay for locker rental or towel service? Take everything into account before you make your decision.

Be aware of the physical characteristics and attributes of the fitness center you would like to attend

It should go without saying, but make sure the gym you choose is clean and properly ventilated. When you tour each facility, make note of how many machines are out of service and how well the property is maintained.

Of course, it’s not always possible to find the perfect gym within your budget. Stick to the issues that are most important to you and know that you’ve chosen a fitness center you’ll use to get the results you seek in physical fitness.

By: Sarah Russell

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