If you are serious about getting the best results you can when it comes to improving your physical fitness, then joining a quality health club is probably going to be important for you. The number of people who successfully reach their fitness goals by utilizing a health club is far greater than those who are successful on their own.
Getting in shape is a very healthy and smart choice. But, what is the best way to do this? Dieting and/or exercising on your own, with a friend, joining the “Y”, joining a heath club or spa, or what? All have their pros and cons, but out of all these, the health club or spa is probably the most risky – as one looks at it from financial basis.
Why is this? The number one reason is the cost. Out of all your choices you will probably pay the most for a health club membership. Then, too many of them make you sign a contract and lock you into a rate and specific terms. Now this isn’t necessarily bad, but you should know what you are getting into before joining one.
Is home equipment required? This isn’t to say that you can’t do it on your own, but be pre-warned that going it on your own is a lot more difficult than you may think. If you want to get physically fit without joining a club, as a minimum, you should plan on hiring a personal trainer, at least to get you started. Also, you will need to invest in some home exercise equipment. The cost of a trainer and quality home equipment can require an investment that would allow you to join a good health club for several years.
So, chances a good that you should consider joining a good health club to help you meet your fitness goals. If this is the case, here are some of the most important things you need to consider when evaluating a health club before you join.
- 1 Checklist of a Health or Fitness Club (Gym)
- 1.1 1. Health Screenings
- 1.2 2. Qualified, certified fitness instructors
- 1.3 3. Service Oriented
- 1.4 4. Try before you buy
- 1.5 5. Members of the facility
- 1.6 6. Close to home or work
- 1.7 7. Types of Equipment
- 1.8 8. Condition of Equipment
- 1.9 9. Aerobics Room
- 1.10 10. Facility Temperature and Air Flow
Checklist of a Health or Fitness Club (Gym)
1. Health Screenings
Find out if the club performs a health screening before you begin your membership. Ideally, a certified fitness professional should give you a submax fitness test to determine your current cardiovascular fitness. They should also ask you questions about your medical history and conduct tests for flexibility. Getting this information will help the staff evaluate your capabilities and design a safe and effective exercise routine that will help you achieve your desired results.
2. Qualified, certified fitness instructors
The instructors should be certified through a national exercise organization such as ACE or ACSM. Some of the organizations have certifications for special needs groups like seniors or people with arthritis. If you fit into a special group, check to see if any of the staff at the club you’re interested in has the certifications that will be most beneficial to you. And check their credentials. There are a lot of certificate mills out there that give out certifications for a few dollars and don’t require any testing to insure the applicants are knowledgeable or have practical experience.
Personal trainers are different for unique types of exercises. Fitness instructor help in enhancing body structure while yoga trainer guide you to achieve inner strength. Both have different set of qualifications and same. Check out that instructors are different for alternative set of exercises.
There should be certified staff members available to answer questions and show you how to use any of the equipment. They should also be available to help you set up your initial exercise program and guide you in any modifications you need to make as you progress.
3. Service Oriented
When you first go to a club to check it out, see what kind of feeling you get from the staff. Do they seem interested in you and your exercise goals or are they just trying to sign you up for the most expensive package they can talk you in to? Staff members should be willing and able to answer any questions you have about various programs, etc. And they should encourage you to use the facility, not just try to get you to sign up.
4. Try before you buy
The facility should allow you a try out period before committing to a membership. Look for a club that allows you to try out the facility for at least 2 weeks (there may be a fee for this). At the very least, they should offer you a free day pass so you can see how you feel using the facility.
5. Members of the facility
Check out the kind of people who are using the facility. Ask yourself if these are the kind of people you want to be exercising next to. If you are a baby boomer and most of the people you see in the facility are 20 something, you may not be comfortable working out with them as your peers. If you like everything else about the facility but you’re not sure the other members fit your comfort profile, make a point of visiting the facility when you are most likely to use it. You will probably find that the demographics of many clubs change depending on when you go there.
Important questions to ask health (fitness) club on membership contract
Fees and the requisites
Can the Club, or spa, explain the fees and the requirements that will be associated with signing a contract.
Can you visit the spa and look around? If you do, make sure you visit when you would plan on going there. This way you can see first-hand how busy it will be when you are there and you won’t be in for any surprises on your first visit. Also while visiting, check out the cleanliness and the type and age of the equipment.
Does the club offer trial periods in which you can go a few times and see how it will be? If so, you need to find out if this is free or will there be a charge for it. This may be more expensive now, but it may save you much money in the long run.
Find out about how many members they have. Now all of them probably don’t come, but maybe they can fill you in on how many active members they have and when the busy times of the day or weeks is.
Find out when it is open, or if it is open all the time. Also, make sure you understand if you can come anytime or if there are certain times when you can’t come – for whatever reason.
Do they have special trainers, or maybe even classes, that you can get help from. If so, what types of qualifications do these people have?
As mentioned in the question above, make sure you are familiar with all the details that they say are in the contract. Tell them you would like to take the contract home and read over it. You don’t want to be trapped into making a hasty decision by signing on the spot.
Ask about canceling the contract. You need to understand this well because you never know what will happen in the future if you have to break the contract – you may or may not be able to get a refund or a partial refund. On the other hand you may not get any refund and may even have to pay out the remaining payments in your contract. Ask if there are any special allowances for cancelling, like if you injure yourself or move away.
Lastly, this isn’t a question to ask the health club or spa, but you may want to check with your local authorities (i.e., consumer protection agency or similar) to see if there have been any complaints from members of the club.
6. Close to home or work
If a club isn’t convenient for you to get to, you aren’t going to use it regularly. If you don’t exercise regularly, you will be defeating your purpose. The club I joined when I was living in Chicago was a national chain. One of the big reasons I joined this particular club was that they had multiple facilities within 5 minutes of both my home and my office. It was very convenient for me to go to either club, so I used the facilities all the time. That was a very good thing at the time, because I was training for triathlons which require a lot of training.
7. Types of Equipment
Similar to location, if a facility doesn’t have the kind of weight training and cardiovascular equipment you want to use, it’s not going to be a good fit for you. When I was training for triathlons I needed a pool. Another selling point for the club I joined was that each of the facilities that were close for me also had a pool and an indoor running track that helped with winter training. Make sure that you know what kind of equipment you need to use and are comfortable with it. A club that has predominantly free weights isn’t going to do you much good if you want to use machines.
8. Condition of Equipment
Check to make sure all the equipment is clean and maintained. It won’t do you much good to belong to a club where half the machines have signs saying they are out of service. And working out on dirty, smelly equipment can really put a damper on your training.
9. Aerobics Room
If there is any chance you might want to take some kind of aerobics class (dance, step, spin, etc.) you will want to be sure that the aerobics room has good ventilation and a shock absorbing floor. If you have never had shin splints let me tell you that a shock absorbing floor can make a big difference. And a room with poor ventilation cam really get stuffy when your breathing in everyone else’s used up air.
10. Facility Temperature and Air Flow
When you go for your initial visit to try out the facility, pay attention to the temperature and humidity in the facility. They should be at a comfortable level for you to work out. One of the problems with some facilities that have pools is that they don’t have good separation between the pool area and the rest of the facility. This can cause some pretty high humidity, which can make working out very uncomfortable.