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The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Perfect Gym from an Extensive Array of Choices.

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  • Post last modified:September 25, 2023

Looking for the finest fitness center in your vicinity? It can be an overwhelming task to search for a gym that satisfies your specific requirements, whether you’re really into weightlifting or you need a space where complete novices feel prepared for success. But the process doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing — below, discover expert-approved tips for finding the ultimate fitness center for you.

Assess Your Requirement

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Do you truly need to join a gym? Pose this question to yourself before you even begin your search, advises John Mulry, former gym proprietor. A gym membership certainly has its advantages, but if you adore exercising outdoors, your office or apartment building has a fitness center, or you’re just as content working out at home (for instance, with fitness YouTube channels), joining a gym — even the top-notch gym in your city — might be a squandering of funds.

Still eager to enroll? Fantastic! The subsequent question to ponder: What are my motives for joining? For instance, if you love indoor cycling classes and want to resume participating, you can instantly eliminate any clubs that lack a cycling studio. It’s a straightforward concept, but it’s crucial to contemplate early in your quest for the premier fitness club — it’s astounding how compelling luxurious locker rooms and cutting-edge treadmills can be.

Record Your “Must-Haves”

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Jot down a list of your absolute “must-haves” for your ideal gym, which differ from the “nice-to-haves,” advises Tanner Martty, a personal trainer and proprietor of 34° North in Santa Monica, California. If you’re truly dedicated to strength training, a roomy and well-maintained free-weight area might be high on your list. And you’d be amazed how many gyms lack a space where you can perform your own bodyweight workouts or foam rolling.

Also, will you be showering and preparing for work at the gym? Don’t overlook taking your pre- and post-workout routine into consideration when formulating your list.

Browse Social Networks

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Don’t be influenced by skillful marketing or catchphrases, but instead conduct some research online, says Mike Ganim, co-owner of Harbor Fitness in Brooklyn. If the gym you’re considering has a Facebook or Instagram presence, check their feed for posts by current members to get a sense of the day-to-day activity. In addition to social networks, it doesn’t hurt to check for reviews of your potential new gym on websites such as Yelp and Google to get an understanding of what current and former members appreciate (or don’t appreciate) about the classes, customer service, and cleanliness.

Register for a Trial

Websites like Groupon and Living Social are always offering discounted packages for fitness classes, with everything from boot camps to CrossFit to kettlebells to Zumba, points out Cynthia Phillips, an ISSA-certified personal trainer. Taking advantage of the special deals and introductory offers is a great (and less expensive) way to try out different locations and options before committing to a long-term agreement.

Location, Location, Location

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To minimize any additional stress of traveling to your workout, choose a location based on your lifestyle, says Laura Williams, an ASCM-certified exercise physiologist. Do you plan to go to the gym during your lunch break or after work? The optimal gym for you will probably be one near your workplace. If you’d rather exercise in the mornings or on weekends, a gym close to home might be a better fit.

There’s no magic distance to aim for, but rather a magic commuting time, says Williams. A five- to eight-minute walk or drive is ideal, keeping in mind that factors such as traffic lights, roadway congestion, or even the time of day you’ll be traveling can impact your overall commute. Search “best gym near me” on Google to ensure you aren’t missing out on any options.

Analyze the Specifics

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When you enter a gym, pay attention to all the specifics. Is the lighting too bright? Too dim? Is the music too loud? Are the classes too crowded? Are there too many individuals for your liking? Things that may not seem important during your initial tour can become major complaints later on.

And another thing: The top fitness centers prioritize cleanliness, so look for indications of regular upkeep. “Two giveaway signs of gym cleanliness are the restrooms and the corners,” says Joe Vennare, certified fitness expert and co-founder of Fitt Insider. “If the restroom is dingy and there is dirt or dust bunnies in the corners, maintenance is a concern,” he points out.

Also, check to see if the facility offers a method to sanitize equipment after use, recommends Vennare. “Look for gym wipes or a spray bottle and towels, and see if anyone actually uses them,” he says.

Seal the Deal

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Once you’ve found the top gym membership option for you (and tested out a trial run — or walk, or ride — there), you may be ready to commit. But before you sign on the dotted line, it’s beneficial to double-check a few essential things, says Jenn Walters, certified personal trainer and co-founder of Fit Bottomed Girls. For example:

1. Inquire if your location provides a discounted membership if you only come during “off-peak” hours or solely participate in group exercise classes (if that’s your intention).

2. Ensure you know precisely what “extras” are offered at this gym. Do they provide towels? Shampoo and conditioner in the showers? Hairdryers in the locker room?

3. Are all group exercise classes included, or is there an additional cost? Some health clubs that offer Pilates or other specialized training styles requiring special equipment charge extra for those classes.

Don’t hesitate to play hard to get, suggests Walters. “Many times, clubs will reach out to you in a few days or weeks to offer you an even better deal than when you visited for the tour,” she says. And if you’re not satisfied with the initiation fee or aren’t prepared to commit to a year-long agreement with your gym, you may be able to negotiate a bit. “While not all clubs will give in, many will be willing to work with you, so don’t be afraid to propose a different price or a different membership than what’s stated!” adds Walters.

Lastly, when it comes to price points, the time of year you join matters as well. “The best deals of the year on membership and fitness services like personal training are in January and September, so if you can wait, try to sign up then!” recommends Walters.

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