I have written a post about the importance of finding and activity that you will enjoy, and claimed that gym and exercise is not the only weapon to fight muffin tops, flabby arms and weak bodies. I have also introduced myself as a gym freak and so for those of you, who decided to give gym a try, here is my five cents to what I believe is important when choosing your gym.
First of all, give yourself time to find the right place to sweat, because you may end up spending quite a lot of time there. Consider commuting distance and possible workout times. You want the gym to be close to your work place, if you plan to workout at lunch time or in the morning before work. Closer to home is better for evening workouts and weekends.
Take advantage of promotions and free introductory entries. Many clubs offer the possibility to spend a trial time in their facility, where you can join a class, kill your workout and simply check it out. This is very useful and enables you not only to see, what they have, but also feel the general atmosphere and communicate with the staff.
1. Small or big?
Think about if you prefer a small gym that is usually cozy and people know each other well, but the equipment might be limited or focused on particular workout system. Or rather a big health club that may feel like a factory for producing sexy bodies at the beginning, but will offer you wide range of services from group classes, saunas, personal trainers with different qualification and greater choice of equipment and tools to play with. It is a personal choice of each of us. I used to attend a small gym with family like feel where we all knew each other. But if I were to return to Prague, I would find a different one, as my little gym does not have the equipment I need at this point. At the same time, if you are flirting with Crossfit a small Crossfit gym can be your call, but expect to find only Crossfit related equipment.
Equipment is the most important criterion when choosing a gym. Think about your usual workouts and what equipment you need. Look around to see, if people are spread evenly around the gym, or some areas are more crowded (and thus there is not enough for everyone). I love using “toys” more than regular machines. Kettlebells, TRX, viprs, bosus, slamming balls, weighted balls – these “toys” are a good indicator of whether a gym is worth consideration. Why? Because toys are not the most usual gym equipment like barbells and machines, and so the more of these a gym has, the better. In a gym with tons of toys you will be able to kill a great functional workout, adjust your program better to your goals, gradually change your workouts as you grow and develop and you’ll never get bored.
3. Personal trainers
If you are new to gym or just want to make sure that structure of your workouts and form of your exercises is correct, I highly recommend that you get a personal trainer at least for a few sessions. I find it really motivating and much more fun. Although I always give my workouts 100% effort, my personal trainer Ugo somehow manages to squeeze 130% out of me and I end up doing things I wouldn’t believe I could actually do.
Talk to personal trainers in the gym of your choice, when you go for your trial workout. Ask about their opinions on dieting, working out. Find out what their methods are. Think critically, challenge them and see their arguments. How would they help you gain muscles? What do they recommend for loosing fat? Can they help you with your back pain? Will they guide you through a proper stretching routine? What’s their stance on long cardio sessions, lifting heavy weights, functional training?
Not only expertise matters in case of personal trainers. PT is there for you to motivate you and push you. A great deal of social skills is necessary for PTs, if they want to be loved by their clients. Think about what motivates you more – an army style torturer or a supportive workout buddy? Also consider, whether you prefer a man or a woman. Last but not least, you should like your PT and feel good around him/her. He/she’s there for you not only to make you suffer, but also to enjoy your training and look forward to the next one!
4. Other services
If you are planning to spend significant time in your gym, you will appreciate additional services such as saunas, hammams, swimming pool, massages or tennis courts. Depends on how big you want to go. I find even a small sauna with attached cold shower really useful especially during cold rainy autumn Sundays or winter weekends. Small things that make your workout more pleasant, such as water fountains, towels to use/rent or cup of quality coffee available after your workout, shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Are you saying that there is no gym in your area that would appeal to you? Or health club is too expensive? I will have a few suggestions for you very soon. Just come back to Alouded and check them out.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to live loud!