When you commit to a new training program or to generally losing weight, the first thing you will normally want to do is to join a new gym. With a gym membership comes a greater sense of urgency to go to the gym, a wider range of equipment to train with, and the helpful advice and motivation of the staff that work there.
But in order to make the most of your workouts, and to ensure you actually stick to them, it's critical that you pick the right gym. This should be viewed as a very important decision, as it will play a huge role in either getting you to stick to your routine or give it up and that in turn will have knock-on effects in many areas of your life. So how do you go about choosing the right gym and what are the most important factors to consider? Read on to make sure you make the right choice.
The Single Most Important Factor in Choosing a Gym
When it comes to picking a gym there is one factor that should trump all others: convenience. When you come home from work feeling tired and it's dark and raining outdoors, you're going to be looking for any excuse not to go to the gym and it won't take much for you to convince yourself to stay at home. If your gym is five miles away then and involves driving through a busy town centre you will be fighting a losing battle and very unlikely to build that motivation.
The gym I'm currently a member at is literally five minutes down my road, it provides towels and I can even dry my swimming trunks and have a shave while I'm there. In other words, it's very easy for me to make the commitment to head down the road and do a few pull ups and it won't waste lots of my time (it's worth it for a go in the hot tub too). This gym is a lot more expensive than I paid previously, but for the proximity alone it's worth it.
Of course though, you shouldn't just pick whichever gym is closest to you and go with that – there are other elements that need to be taken into account.
For instance, if your closest gym is always packed to the brim then that can be a problem. Having been a member of an overly busy gym in the past, I found myself using nothing but the dumbbells as none of the equipment I wanted was free.
I have dumbbells at home so really I might as well have saved my money… To ascertain whether or not the gym you're looking at is packed, try asking to be shown around more than once at different times. If the bench press never looks to be free and there are no treadmills, you might want to reconsider.
I mentioned above that I was a fan of the hot tub at my current gym, and indeed it is a nice motivator when I'm feeling lazy. The point you need to remember though is that you don't need any of these features to get into shape. If you're genuinely focused on building muscle and burning fat then all you need is a dark room with a few weights in it and that will save you a lot of money.
On the other hand though, if you have the money to spare and you like to be indulged, or if you think the spa features will really motivate you, then it may be worth paying a little extra for them.
Most gyms have all the same equipment when it comes to the basics – and at minimum they should have a mat area, a bench press, a dumbbell rack and some CV and resistance machines. However the best gyms will be the ones that think outside the box and include some of the more unusual equipment like climbing ropes, like suspension straps and like kettle bells. Varying your workouts is a great way to shock your body into action and this way you can hit the muscles you didn't know you had.
It's more fun to vary your training with something a bit different though, so consider it a big bonus if a gym has a wider selection of torture devices.