Ever since I started writing my health and fitness blog, I have actively kept an eye out for all the gyms around Atlanta where I live, noticing the big corporate run gyms, the small hole in the wall gyms, the 24/7 fitness gyms, and the small signs posted near bus stops “We come to you!”. Finding the right gym for you is the hardest and most important part of getting started in your new life of fitness, and with all these choices it can be tough, overwhelming, and sometimes put a solid halt in your progress.
Which gym is right for me?
Finding the right gym will depend on the following: Skill level, dedication, schedule, and budget. Corporately run gyms are often the best for people who are already in shape as they have better access to equipment such as squat racks and hammer strength machines. If you have no clue what I just said and are getting started, then a little hole in the wall gym is best for you. Work crazy hours? 24/7 is always there for you. Here is a break down of some of the pros and cons of the different gyms out there.
Corporate gyms often require upfront payments of first and last months as a “joining” fee and require you to sign a year long contact at minimum. At first they may seem like they really want your business and they care, calling you, offering you free “consultation” classes, but once you sign that contract it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of every day gym life. Corporate gyms also attract a wide variety of the “body building” crowd. You know, people who are there to look pretty instead of be healthy. When I first started working out years ago I walked into the gym racked my first bench press bar with two 25lbs weights, struggled through my first set, sat up and watched a guy come in and curl what I was benching to warm up. Extremely discouraged I got up, went home, where nothing productive got done. Being surrounded by people who are leaps and bounds ahead of you as far as physical shape can be daunting, and when it comes to getting started you need all the focus you can get. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is YOURSELF. The one thing I can say that corporate gyms offer that many other places don’t is group classes, from cycling to yoga to zumba many of the smaller gyms just don’t have the money or client base to be able to afford those classes. If you are looking for a fun group activity to get started you may want to check into seeing if you can pay separately per class without having to sign some lengthy contract.
24/7 fitness gyms are my personal favorite because of my schedule. It allows me to workout whenever I want, without feeling rushed to finish my workout before the doors get locked. You sacrifice access to some of the “fancier” equipment, but if you are just starting out, old school push ups, sit ups, dumbbells and barbells will do just fine. Also as an added bonus the personal training staff really will feel like just that. A personal trainer. Smaller gym does mean a smaller client base, and while it depends greatly on the quality of personal trainer you have a much better chance of feeling like someone has your personal needs in mind at a smaller gym.
The smaller gyms around the area that are not 24/7 offer the same benefits without the added flexibility of the anytime schedule. The best about hole in the wall gyms is they are everywhere allowing you to pick one close and convenient to you. Some are better than others, so make sure you go in and give it a good look around.
I have never personally experienced a house visit from a trainer, but I would imagine if you are comfortable with someone coming to your house this would be the most convenient. However, with the exception of perhaps a few dumbbells, anything a household visit trainer could bring you could do on your own and save the money. If you are having trouble coming up with exercises head over to my blog post “Circuit training at your own speed” for some ideas.
Gym check list
Whatever you decide to do, here are some all around questions you should go armed with in order to find the best gym fit for you
- What is the start up fee, contract, and if there is a contract what is the cancellation policy?
- How does the personal training work, and what are the trainers qualifications? (you might sound a little rude, but you don’t want a trainer that has only trained body builders if you are training for a marathon)
- What are your hours/days of operation?
- What group classes do you offer, and do I have to be a member to participate?
- Can you give me a tour and over view of what the different equipment is for?
Signing up for a gym can be tough but it is the first step, and while contracts may be bad for some people it is also a financial motivator for others. Knowing you are going to pay regardless of going or not going can sometimes motivate people to get to the gym and do something be it run on a treadmill, participate in a group class, or just randomly run around lifting weights (if that’s what you’re doing I recommend asking someone for some advice, done be shy). At the end of the day, doing something, anything is better than nothing.
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