Picking a gym should be straight forward, but since we want the most for our hard earned dollars, it pays to do a little research before making a commitment. Making a habit of going to the gym is hard enough, but if you choose a facility that is a good match and has a few essentials, it will be a place you won’t mind spending time at. Here is a quick and easy guide for what to look out for when you’re seeking a new fitness space.
It may be obvious but it’s easy to be swept away by a lot of shiny machines and fancy facilities and forget about the hygiene factor. Working out should be a sweaty business, so when touring facilities, stake out a spot to casually observe how people treat the equipment. If they’re not putting down towels before use on, say, a weights bench, gym etiquette is to wipe them down after use. People generally blend in with the culture of a space, so if trainers and the regulars are looking out for the space, it sets the expectation that everyone tends to follow. Another pet hate of mine is the showers, a quick glance will tell you all you need to know about how regularly they are cleaned!
The gym facilities that are right for you will depend on your goals, but for someone seeking all-round fitness/weight loss, a good option is a fully equipped studio or health club. Look for a range of group classes, choice of personal trainers, and lots of free weights and other props. Gym equipment might also be on the top of your list, but don’t forget a good workout doesn’t depend on using every single piece of equipment. Think about other facilities you might actually use. These could include amply equipped changing rooms (if you’re in before work for example) or onsite physio, dietitians or masseuses. A must have is ample locker spaces so you can safely store valuables, even when the gym is busy. A cycle studio, reformer studio and spa, sauna or steam room are standard for a health club so check they have these also if you think you might try them out.
The people surrounding you really do make a difference when you’re trying to establish a new fitness routine. Stand-offish or deliberately busy staff make an environment less friendly, but at the same time, super bouncy staff that always try to up sell you are draining! There is a happy middle, so speak to some of the staff besides the one giving you a tour. After all, they are probably best at selling their facility and you want to get a feel of what the place is really like. Ideally trainers will be around that are happy to assist if you have questions about your form or the equipment. Unstaffed gyms (think 24-hour joints) are risky if you’re new to training and might not suit the level of supervision you need when you’re learning, or trying to progress your fitness.
So tour some local fitness clubs whether you’re in St Kilda or Surfer’s Paradise and look out for the things that will keep you coming back to train over the long term!