Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Join the Right Gym

Joining a gym comes down to a few important factors: equipment, convenience, culture, crowdedness, and cost.

EQUIPMENT: The Heart of a Champion Program requires very basic equipment that all gyms should have. Before joining a gym make sure they have the essential equipment; squat rack, pull-up bar, lat pull down machine, sturdy box (for RDL’s, an “aerobics step” will suffice), swiss ball (for hamstring ball curls), a barbell set with weights, and a rack of dumbbells (preferably from 0 - 100 lbs, you might not need the heavy weights yet,
but you will).

CONVENIENCE: How close is the gym to your house or work? Is it on the way or out of the way? It’s very important to find a gym with a high convenience factor so that you don’t waste time commuting needlessly.

CULTURE: What kind of people will be working out alongside you? This criteria is totally dependent on your personality. If you’re in your 50’s, you probably don’t want a bunch of immature kids slamming weights around you. Also, what kind of music does the gym play? Is the staff friendly? Do people put their equipment back when they are done using it?

CROWDEDNESS: This is self-explanatory, is the gym busy, crowded, or too crowded? It doesn’t matter if a gym has all the equipment you need if someone else is always using it.

COST: Your final decision should weigh the equipment, convenience, culture, and crowdedness against the cost. Also, weigh factors like monthly dues and initiation fees. The gym that you like the most might cost a little more. Exercise good judgment and make the decision that’s best for you. However, before you join any gym you need to kick the tires and take it for a test drive! You should get a free pass and use the gym for a week before you ever sign a contract. Most gyms have 7 day passes on their websites or they can write you a pass when you go in to checkout their facility. If, for whatever reason, a sales rep from the gym will not write you a one week pass, you should politely tell them that you need to use the gym for a week and see if it’s a good fit for you. If they still will not write you a pass, go checkout another gym. This is important because gym culture and crowdedness can change dramatically during the day. You need to use
the gym for a week, training with your regular schedule and make sure that the gym is still a good fit.

Also, you must comparison shop! Never let a salesman pressure you into signing a contract to take advantage of a “special limited time offer.” Gyms are constantly running false promotions to try and impose a time constraint and get you to sign up immediately. Depending on the size of your town, you should be able to get guest passes
at 3 or 4 gyms and use them all for a week before making any decisions.
Since the equipment you need is very basic, it’s entirely possible to create your own home gym in a garage, basement or spare bedroom. If you have the resources this can be an awesome alternative to joining a gym. Also think beyond just joining a corporate fitness gym. Colleges and other non-profit organizations also have the equipment you need and many of them grant access to the public for fees or donations.

Chris Krueger

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