Joining A Gym

Joining A Gym

Joining a gym can be a nerve-racking process, especially if it is your first time. Most people don’t know what look for in a gym membership. But, don’t worry: By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll know exactly what to look for in a gym.

1. Location

This is more important than you may think. You could be a member of the greatest gym in the world, but if it is 30 minutes away from your home, work, or school, it’ll be much harder to build it into your daily routine.

Find a gym that is close to somewhere that you spend a lot of time. My gym is right between my home and my work, which is ideal. I can get a workout in before and/or after work without any extra travel time.

2. Hours

Some gyms are only open for a few hours a day. Some gyms are open 24/7/365. You need to find a gym that is open when you need it to be. I’m a night owl and always have been. As such, I picked a gym that is open all day, every day, year round. That way I can workout at eight in the morning or at midnight and it doesn’t matter.

One big benefit of joining a 24-hour gym is that you can go when there are not a lot of people there. I love to go after 11 at night when there are only a few people there. Another benefit to this is that it eliminates the excuse “I was going to go to the gym today, but they were closed.” Here are some other common exercise excuses, and what you can do to avoid making them.

3. Cost

Every gym has different pricing structures. Some charge a monthly fee, some charge an annual fee. Some gyms charge a monthly fee and an annual fee. And, some gyms offer different levels of membership.

My gym, for example, offers gold and platinum memberships. Gold members get unlimited use of free weights, machines, and cardio equipment, for about $10 a month. If you just want to lift some weights and do some cardio, then going for a standard type of membership would be the best choice. Platinum members get everything that gold members get, plus free unlimited tanning, childcare, classes (spinning, yoga, etc.), half-off drinks, and can bring one guest every day. Platinum membership costs about $20 a month.

As you can see, platinum membership comes with a lot more options, but costs twice as much. For someone that is joining a gym for the first time, I would usually recommend going with the cheaper option at first. Most gyms are happy to upgrade you at any time if you decide that you want more perks.

4. Equipment

gymIf this is your first time joining a gym, it can be hard to know what kinds of equipment to look for. Most gyms have free weights, machines, and cardio equipment (treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes, stair climbers, etc.). If you are looking to build muscle, make sure your gym has free weights. A lot of popular gyms chains have tons of cardio equipment but not a lot of free weights. Some don’t allow you to perform heavy lifts, like the deadlift. If you are trying to build muscle, make sure they have a squat rack and let you perform deadlifts.

Popular gym chains usually have an abundance of cardio equipment. They market mainly to overweight people that are trying to lose weight, which is fine. These types of gyms usually have low monthly fees, but offer very little help and few extras to its members. Make sure your gym has the kind of equipment that you need to reach your fitness goals.

5. Cleanliness

Gyms are a place that people go to sweat. It’s unreasonable to expect your gym to smell like a bed of roses. But what you should expect is a basic level of cleanliness. What this means is that there aren’t crumpled up paper towels everywhere. Weights are on the rack and not laying all over the place. There’s not a puddle of water around the water fountain.

Cleanliness plays a big role in the gym experience. It shows that the staff and other members take pride in their gym and care about what it looks like. If a gym has paper towels everywhere, water and sweat all over the machines and dirt on the floor, this tells me that no one cares about this gym. If no one else cares, why should I? A clean gym is a gym you can feel comfortable in.

6. Members

When you are checking out a potential gym, look at what type of people are there. Is it mostly overweight people trying to lose weight? Is it a bunch of juiced-up muscle heads pumping iron?

You want to find a gym that’s filled with people that have similar goals to yourself. When checking out a gym, I recommend going around the time that you will most likely be going to workout. This gives you a better idea of what kind of people you’ll be surrounded by. See if they are using the same equipment that you’ll be using.

And, don’t be afraid to ask people questions. Most gym goers are happy to talk with you. Just make sure you follow proper gym etiquette before talking with anyone. You don’t want to interrupt someone mid-set and have them drop a 50-pound dumbell on your foot!

7. Staff

This is especially important if you are joining a gym for the first time and are unfamiliar with the basics of exercising. A good gym has polite, knowledgeable staff that are willing to help you with any questions that you may have.

A lot of gyms, especially larger ones, have personal trainers on staff. My gym, for example, offers one free personal training session to new members to help them learn how to use all the different types of equipment. If your gym offers this and you are new to the world of fitness, I strongly recommend taking advantage of it to get acquainted with all the different types of exercises.

8. Daycare

This one obviously doesn’t apply to everyone. But to those of you with young children, it’s a big one.

Many gyms offer daycare. My gym offers free daycare to anyone with a platinum membership. I would recommend anyone considering using gym daycare to talk to a few other parents that use it. Make sure they are happy with the care provided to their children. This way you can enjoy your workout without having to worry about your little one(s).


Now you know what to look for in a gym membership. Joining a gym can be a frustrating process, but it shouldn’t have to be. If you consider everything listed above, you’ll be able to find the right gym for you. Your gym can make or break your fitness goals. If you love your gym, then you are that much more likely to succeed.

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