Finding a new gym can be stressful and intimidating. Whether you have recently moved and need a new gym to call home or just have been out of the game and are looking to prioritize your fitness, finding the right gym takes a bit more consideration than many people give it. Spending time to investigate your options or going with whatever you stumble across first can be the difference between your commitment to fitness, taking a positive step in the right direction, and setting yourself up for inevitable failure.
In the last few years on my fitness quest, I have come across the need to find a new gym a few different times. With the benefit of hindsight, I can say that some of my choices were good while others left a lot to be desired. In reflecting on those choices I have come up with four considerations I believe are critical to ensuring you have found the perfect new gym home.
This should be pretty obvious, but I think it’s still important to mention. You could find a gym that is perfect for you in every way, but if it’s too far from your home or office, the likelihood you will choose to go when you don’t feel like it diminishes as the distance traveled to get there increases. That is not to say that selecting the closest gym to you is always the best choice, but you should be honest with yourself before committing and decide if the distance makes that choice realistic for you or not. With fitness, consistency is everything; you need to be able to make it in the door often for what you do there to be effective.
Just like proximity, the hours the gym is open have to fit with your schedule. Do you like to work out early in the morning before work? If so, you’ll need to make sure the gym is open early enough that you can get in and out with plenty of time to get ready for work. The same goes for evening hours. Many gyms have 24-hour access available, which is an excellent feature that is worth prioritizing as you come to a decision.
Classes / Equipment
So you found a gym that is close by and works with your schedule. The next step is making sure that the gym you choose has the equipment you like to use! There are many ways to get a great workout in, and gyms have a huge variety of different equipment. What you like using, whether it be cardio machines or barbells, is unique to you. It would be best if you found a gym that caters to the style of workouts you enjoy most. Likewise, group classes are an excellent feature that some gyms offer. Most will have their class schedules posted on their website, take a peek and find a gym with classes to keep you showing up on days you don’t have the energy to do it by yourself.
Cleanliness / Vibe
Do you prefer a powerlifting gym, complete with chalk on the floors and the smell of hard work wafting through the air, humid with sweat? Or maybe you would prefer a health club where clean locker rooms and more “after work” atmosphere is prevalent? There is no right answer here other than its important you choose a gym where you feel comfortable. Do you feel comfortable going through your routine in the new gym? If not, you’ll want to keep looking for somewhere that feels like home. One important thing to realize, though, is that no gym will feel totally comfortable right off the bat, even to the most seasoned gym veteran. Instead of focusing on how you feel the first day, take a look around the gym and identify people you seemingly could relate to. Do they look comfortable there? If they are smiling and moving through their routine confidently, chances are good that with a little familiarity you can do the same!
Finding a new gym can be a daunting task, especially if you are more new to fitness. Keeping in mind the suggestions outlined above will go a long way towards you finding a new gym you feel comfortable. No gym will be perfect, and you’ll have to weigh your priorities to some extent, but some options are better for YOU than others.
Best of luck, and see you at the squat rack!