If you’re having second thoughts about your gym lately, maybe because of the recent swarm of resolution-havers, it might be time to call it quits—and find a new gym.
Of course, finding the right gym for you can feel a lot like a Goldilocks problem. One gym might seem too far, another might be too expensive, and your last option might seem perfect at first, up until the moment you witness the unhygienic state of its locker rooms. And then there are other gym-goers to consider!
Here’s an important step you should take before signing up for any gym: Always make an effort to visit a prospective gym during your usual workout hours. It’s simple enough advice, but when you take a tour of a gym on, say, a Saturday afternoon or any other time you aren’t ordinarily at the gym, it’s hard to gauge how busy it will be when you do work out.
Take my current gym; it’s empty on weekends, yet on a Tuesday at 6pm, you’d be lucky to stretch a limb and not accidentally hit someone in the face. Of course, having visited on a weekend, I was under the false impression that it would remain crowd-free throughout the week, and greatly regretted signing up so quickly.
To avoid a similar fate, ask for a guest pass that might allow you a chance to visit this gym at different times and on different days (and ideally, for at least a week). From experience, a guest pass is significantly better than opting into a trial period that some gyms offer; usually, you’re forced to give hand over your credit card to participate in a trial and if you decide not to sign up in the end, you must cancel before the period ends.
We all know just how difficult it is to cancel a gym membership, so try to circumvent this by obtaining a guest pass that doesn’t require your card. (And if they don’t offer a pass and you’re forced into a trial, well, here’s how to successfully cancel a membership. From experience, however, even crappy gyms will permit you at least one day to try out the facility.)
From this point, you can decide whether that gym is worth your money. Maybe at this prospective gym in question, the weekends are busy because of the number of personal trainers and their clients. Or maybe mornings are the worst for crowds. You won’t know if it’s the right gym for you unless you visit at just the right time.
What else should you consider before signing up? Well, that depends on your goals and personal preferences. Some people prefer a no-frills gym without the perks of a sauna or cavernous locker room. Others might sign up specifically because of those amenities. We’d suggest a few things, generally speaking:
If you work out at odd times, consider the gym’s operating hours.
If you’re a lifter, consider the number of squat racks available.
If you’re keen on getting in some cardio time, take a look at the state of its treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals.
If you’re into group classes, take a look at the gym’s calendar for its class offerings.
And lastly, price should be a huge determinant in your decision-making process. Do some research and look into other gyms in your area and their monthly fees to see if they’re comparable and let this inform your ultimate decision.
Of course, before signing up, you should also know there’s a negotiation process involved. Gyms want your business, after all, and they might extra incentives to get you in the doors (and to stay there). Here’s how to drive an effective bargain.