Changing your nutrition alone will not result in the body shape you desire. It takes a combination of exercise and nutrition to result in the healthiest body. Finding the right fitness and weight-loss center can mean the difference between achieving your health and wellness goals, and having a bill each month for a facility you never use. It can be difficult to determine which type of facility you should use, especially when confronted by sales staff who could sell beach front property in the middle of the desert. Facilities are rarely made equal and unless you have extensive knowledge of the field then the decision might be based on nothing more than the shine on the machines – which won’t necessarily help you to your goals. There are three ways you can be proactive in finding the right facility for you: Always keep your weight-loss/wellness goals at the front of your mind and during each tour ask yourself how each facility will help you achieve those goals, come prepared to your gym tour with questions, and understand what the market in your area has to offer. These simple steps will aide you in finding a facility that will fill your unique needs.
Types of Facilities:
24 Hour Gyms – obviously these gyms are open 24 hours a day. One of the number one excuses I’ve heard as a personal trainer is that someone didn’t have time to exercise to lose weight These are fantastic to members who have unpredictable or unusual schedules. Most are large chains so you’ll have a larger variety of types of equipment (from strength to cardio machines). Keep in mind these gyms do not offer all their amenities 24 hours a day – daycare, tanning, the pool, group fitness, personal training, etc are the types of amenities that will still be offered during the regular business hours.
Women Only – again, obviously, these gyms only allow females to become members. The downside of this is generally they are more limited in equipment and operation hours, especially since many cater more toward personal instruction than independent exercise. Another down side are those looking for better deals for family memberships or those who want to work out with a spouse. The benefit is for those women who are very self-conscious while attending the gym. In my opinion, this style of facility is great for the woman who is just beginning her weight-loss/wellness journey, when her knowledge of exercise is extremely limited. Fairly quickly she’ll be more experienced that this facility can accommodate, but for those neophytes this facility will give a great start.
Circuit Gyms – there has been a trend over the last decade toward gyms that have a certain set of exercises that members perform in a pre-prescribed order. Generally members will start on one machine and move to the next. The benefit is for those who either haven’t workout in a long time (so their strength/stamina is low) and those will extremely tight schedules who need workouts to fit within a small window of time. The downside is the lack of variety which can lead to boredom as well as the fact that if you don’t vary your workout at least every 6 weeks, then you’ll stop seeing improvement. So this type of facility would work great for the short term – 6 months at the most – after that time you will be exercising, but your weight-loss will have hit a plateau.
Body-Building Gyms – these have become much less popular as they exclude a large part of the fitness market. Gold’s Gym for example used to cater to body builders, but have become much more main stream by offering more in the way of cardio equipment as well as a variety of group fitness classes. There is little benefit to the person interested in weight-loss other than their group fitness classes. Otherwise the majority of the equipment, and the expertise of the employees is focused instead on muscle-building rather than weight loss.
Sport Specific Gym – these come in a variety of shapes and sizes – from those based on kickboxing or mixed martial arts (MMA), to group fitness classes, to Yoga, to rock climbing gyms. The main idea is to cater to a specific part of the population. The downside is the variety, there are generally less differing types of equipment available, and space is usually more limited as well. The benefit is there is usually a higher caliber of instruction as the instructors/ trainers are specialized in only one or two areas. These types of gyms are great for those who just want to tone/tighten. They can be very fun for those who have trouble motivating themselves.
Top 10 Questions For Finding the Right Facility:
1. What are my goals/what do you want from your workouts? Keep focused on your goals then give some thought to how you would like to achieve them – group classes, treadmills, personal training, etc.
2. How much am I willing to spend on my membership? These days everyone is strapped for cash. Determine what range is acceptable before calling and setting any tour appointments. Touring a beautiful facility you can’t afford won’t help you in your search. Keep in mind this amount should equal the Total Cost, most gyms have fees for membership that are on top of the listed ‘monthly’ amount.
3. How far am I willing to travel? Some people will choose a facility closer to work to use before or after the workday, others will choose ones closer to their home. Either way, understand the more difficult the gym is to get to (or the longer the ride) the less likely you’ll be to use the facility over the long term.
4. What time of day will I be able to work out? We all have hectic schedules. Figure out what time of day you will most likely be able to work out. Some gyms have limited schedules, if you figure out you can only really train at 5 am and the gym nearest you doesn’t open until 8 am then you’ll know to either look further afield for a gym, or try to re-arrange the rest of your schedule.
5. How long has this gym been in business? Believe it or not, fitness facilities have a high turnaround rate. If the gym has been open for less than 5 years then I suggest signing up for a month-to-month contract rather than paying up front for a year or more because if the gym goes under, you’ll lose that money.
6. How many members do you have? If the gym has hundreds of members, but only 4 pieces of cardio equipment, then you can bet you’ll have a hard time using the equipment you want, when you want. I suggest visiting the gym during the time of day you’re most likely to use the gym. Furthermore, most gyms will give you a free or discounted trial membership (from a week to a month) for you to give it a try at a variety of times.
7. What is the Equipment Like/How is it maintained? You should be prepared to tour each facility you are interested in. Many might look good from the outside, and seem successful enough, but a true eye opener is the cleanliness of the gym, and the quality of the equipment. Chances are if there is dust hanging from the ceiling, and tears in on the benches then the business isn’t making enough money for simple up-keep.
8. What types of Amenities are offered? Many gyms offer more than just a space for working out, many now offer massage therapy, tanning, basketball, racquet ball, etc. Ask about the amenities before deciding on which gym you prefer – and ask how these amenities affect the price. Furthermore, ask how much personal training costs (even if you don’t plan on using it). If the place charges on a 6month or year basis, rather than letting you custom design your sessions, then they will most likely be strict (less likely to negotiate) on their monthly fees/membership fees.
9. What kind of credentials does the staff have? You’d be surprised how un-qualified many employees are at a gym. I once worked at a facility where I was the ONLY one who had any experience. This will mean no one to answer questions (without risking injury to yourself), no one to predict what type of equipment should be provided, no one to know how to fix a broken piece of equipment, etc.
10. How many staff are on the floor/are they busy? You want a facility where there are qualified trainers available to answer any questions you might have, but there are some facilities where the employees hang out texting like it’s high school study hall. Some of the problem relates to question #9. The trick is to come to your tours prepared and keep your eyes and ears open!