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Joining a gym? Read this first!

How to choose the right gym to get results and have fun in 2020

 

It’s no secret that every January millions of Americans set New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight. That’s why, right now, all the gyms are fighting for your attention and, ultimately, your money. You’re probably already seeing gyms offer free trials, promotions and challenges. 

But you need to make the right choice for your needs — not theirs. 

And let’s be honest, sticking with your New Year’s resolution is no easy task. In fact, 80% of Americans give up on their resolutions by February, and only 8% end up achieving their resolution by the end of the year. 

If your goal is to lose weight and get fit this year, then it’s safe to say you’re going to need all the help you can get. That’s why it’s extremely important to be thoughtful and intentional when choosing your gym, fitness program or trainer for the new year.

But how do you find the gym that best fits your unique needs and wants? How do you find a fitness community that checks all your boxes — and still falls in your price range? 

That’s why I want to offer some professional guidance this January, so you can determine who to trust on your own. Here’s some helpful advice from an industry insider and fitness professional, aka yours truly.

 

Before You Read: 

This blog is designed to give you a thorough process to understand your needs and find the gym to meet them, so it’s a lengthier blog. For your convenience, we’ve created a short “Just The Facts” version that just gives you the criteria and questions you should consider before joining a gym. However, if you’re like me and love the details, keep scrolling for the full version, including a section on signing contracts, to get a more in-depth look at the topic.

 

Just The Facts (Short Version) 

Based on my professional experience in the industry and my clients’ past experiences, here are some basic guidelines for joining a gym. 

 

  1. Don’t join a gym because they’re running a promotion or they’re the cheapest. 
  2. Don’t make the mistake of joining a gym because your friend goes there. 
  3. Most certainly don’t join a gym without doing your due diligence. Yelp, Google and Facebook all provide reviews for you to check out, and it only takes minutes. You can also ask around as to what gyms people prefer. 
  4. Don’t join a gym without trying a few first. Most gyms offer free trials or discounted promotions of some kind, so please take advantage of that. 
  5. If you can afford it, definitely hire a trainer to get you started. A good trainer will provide the knowledge, accountability and motivation that’s crucial to achieving your goals. 
  6. Always do a Better Business Bureau check before you sign up — especially if a contract is involved.
  7. Make sure you read and completely understand any contract before signing. Gyms are notorious for one-sided contracts that are set up to benefit them and not you. Don’t let anyone pressure you into signing a contract on the spot. 
  8. To help you find the best match for your needs, ask yourself the following questions before joining a gym/fitness program:

 

  • How much can you afford?
  • How close is the gym to your home or job?
  • Are the hours of operation and class times suitable for your schedule? 
  • What kind of vibe or culture will keep you coming back?
  • Do you plan on taking classes? If so, what kind of classes are offered?
  • Do they offer modifications for injuries and limitations during class?
  • Do they offer classes that accommodate beginners?
  • Are the classes overcrowded? 
  • How is the facility maintained? 
  • Is the staff friendly and helpful?
  • Do they have locker rooms and showers?
  • Do they have child care?
  • Do they have an open gym or weight room?
  • Is the equipment in good working order, or is it broken?

 

There’s nothing worse than being locked into a contract at a gym you don’t like. Take your time to find a gym that fits you best, and you’ll be very happy you did. 

Losing weight and getting fit is a challenging undertaking, but with the right gym, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals in 2020!

 

Our New Year’s Gift To You 

The team at Survival of the Fittest Health and Wellness wishes all the best on your fitness journey. In fact, we want to help you kick off your year right with the Chubby Trainer Diet. Hey, we know it’s a silly title, but seriously, it’s a very effective and, more importantly, doable diet. It’s all about a balanced approach to dieting, and our clients have seen amazing results! Send an email to James@SOFHEALTHANDWELLNESS.com titled “The Chubby Trainer Diet” in the subject line and we will send you your copy right away! We hope you will, too. Best of luck, and feel free to reach out if you need any professional support or guidance along the way!

 

The Full Story (In-depth Version)

If you’re ready to give this a thorough and thoughtful consideration, there are three things you should know: 

  1. Exactly what you want and need from a gym
  2. What to look for in a quality gym and fitness program 
  3. What to look for when talking prices and signing the contract 

 

Know Exactly What You’re Looking For — Self Survey

The last thing you want is to start out the New Year with a well-intentioned resolution only to end up locked into a contract with a gym you never use. That’s why the first step to achieving your goal is knowing exactly what you want and need from a gym to actually succeed. 

To help you find the best match for your needs, ask yourself the following questions before joining a gym/fitness program:

 

  • How much can you afford?
  • How close is the gym to your home or job?
  • Are the hours of operation or class times suitable for your schedule? 
  • What kind of vibe or culture will keep you coming back?
  • Do you plan on taking classes? If so, what kind of classes are offered?
  • Do they offer modifications for injuries and limitations during class?
  • Do they offer classes that accommodate beginners?
  • Are the classes overcrowded? This is a big one because you won’t receive the attention you need in overcrowded environment, which could lead to injuries that can set you back on your journey to greater health and fitness. 
  • Are the trainers/instructors properly trained and certified? You would be amazed by how many aren’t. 
  • How is the facility maintained? Is it clean, organized and sanitized?
  • Is the staff friendly and helpful?
  • Do they have locker rooms and showers?
  • Do they have child care?
  • Do they have an open gym or weight room? You may want to work out in the weight room on your own from time to time.
  • Is the equipment in good working order, or is it broken?
  • Are the trainers and instructors committed to providing good service and delivering results? Or are they just there to collect a paycheck and check themselves out in the mirror? A true fitness professional will be committed to helping you in any way they can. 
  • Does the membership and contract have hidden costs or fees? Many gyms will advertise a low rate to get you in the door only to hit you with hidden costs or excessive fees later. 
  • How are their contracts structured? Make sure you check out the section below about understanding your contract.
  • Lastly, does the gym ownership and staff actually care about your experience and results?

Your gym should truly care about whether or not you have a good experience and actually see results. But gyms are notorious for doing and saying whatever it takes to get you to join, locking you into a contract, rarely following up to check in, and only contacting you if they’re selling something. 

If a gym truly cares about its client’s experience, you’ll know quickly. The staff will go above and beyond to make sure you have a good experience, and they’ll respond appropriately if you convey any issues you might have. 

So if all else fails, ask yourself if they have your best interests at heart, and trust your gut with the answer. 

 

Know What To Look For In A Good Gym — Deciding Factors 

Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s important to consider the common pitfalls when it comes to finding the right fit. 

  1. Don’t join a gym because they’re running a promotion or they’re the cheapest. 

I see people make this mistake all too often. You don’t want to end up locked in a contract at a gym you don’t like simply because they were cheaper. The gym industry is highly competitive and many gyms choose to offer rock bottom rates to attract clients. Unfortunately, those low rates often come with poor customer service and a disappointing experience. You typically get what you pay for, but you already know that, right?

  1. Don’t make the mistake of joining a gym because your friend goes there. 

Just because your friend goes to a gym doesn’t mean that it’s a good fit for you. What they need and want may be completely different from what you need and want. Also, many gyms offer their clients monetary incentives for recruiting friends and family. So feel free to check it out, but don’t join a friend’s gym without thinking it through.

Full disclosure: We offer our clients a $100 credit for referrals.

  1. Most certainly don’t join a gym without doing your due diligence. 

Yelp, Google and Facebook all provide reviews you can check in minutes. You may have to dig a little, but don’t forget to read the “hidden” reviews on Yelp, as well. However, don’t rely on the reviews completely to make your decision. Consider them a good starting point. You can also ask around, and be sure to ask why they like their gym. 

  1. Don’t join a gym without trying a few first. 

Most gyms offer free trials or discounted promotions of some kind, so take advantage of that. I recommend trying at least 3 to 5 gyms before you commit. Absolutely don’t let aggressive salesmen pressure you into signing up right away with “today only” deals. There is always a deal to be had, but remember you’re doing this for you, so take the time to find what actually works for you. 

  1. If you can afford it, definitely hire a trainer to get you started. 

A good trainer will provide the knowledge, accountability and motivation that’s crucial to achieving your goals. In fact, the right trainer can be a game-changer when it comes to helping you achieve your goals. Not all trainers are created equal, so be sure to try working with a few before you commit — especially if you’re signing up for a package. It’s not uncommon for gyms to put you through a “free” workout with a sales manager/ trainer, and later, they’ll assign you to a different trainer once you sign up. You may or may not like the trainer you end up with, so make sure you know who’s training you before you commit. 

  1. Always do a Better Business Bureau check before you sign up for anything.

It’s free and easy. Simply visit the Better Business Bureau website, and type the business name into the search box. If the business has any official complaints, you’ll find out quickly.

 

Know Your Contract — ‘Before You Sign’ Tips

According to the Better Business Bureau, fitness club complaints are up by more than 90 percent in the past decade. In a recent release, the Bureau notes that the most common gripes pertained to contract disputes (about 42 percent of complaints) and billing issues (about 32 percent). 

So before committing, make sure the contract you’re signing is fair and reasonable. Take the time to read it thoroughly, and make sure you understand what you’re committing to. Unfortunately, many gyms aren’t upfront and honest about the fine print.

Here are some things to consider before signing a contract:

  • Do they charge an initiation or start-up fee, and if so, can it be waived upon request? (Hint: Many times, it can be waived.)
  • If they charge an initiation fee, do you get something in return, such as a pair of boxing gloves, heart rate monitor or T-shirt? 
  • Will they allow you to freeze your contract if you get injured or if you have pressing issues that won’t allow you to use your membership?
  • If they do allow you to freeze your contract, do they charge you a fee to do so? 
  • Do they have hidden or excessive fees? (i.e. cancellation fees, late fees, gym maintenance fees, membership freezing fees, etc.)
  • Can you cancel your contract early, and if so, what are the terms?
  • Do they have a month-to-month contract option, and if so, what does it cost compared to their other rates?
  • Do they have short-term contracts available, and if so, what do they cost compared to long-term contracts?
  • How hard is it to cancel if you need or want to? Many gyms make it difficult to cancel, so be sure you understand their policies in this area. 

 

The Bottom Line

I’m going to be honest with you: Most gyms care more about profits than they do about people, and that’s why you need to do your due diligence before joining one. 

The good news is there are still plenty of gyms and trainers who take pride in helping people and delivering results. So find a gym that suits your needs, but also look for one with ownership and staff who truly care. Most importantly, find a gym with the right vibe, supportive culture and genuine community. At the end of the day, your gym should make you feel welcomed, supported and inspired. 

Take your time to find the gym that fits you best, and you’ll be very happy that you did — because you’ll see results. Losing weight and getting fit is a challenging undertaking, but with the right gym, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals in 2020!

 

Our New Year’s Gift To You 

The team at Survival of the Fittest Health and Wellness wishes all the best on your fitness journey. In fact, we want to help you kick off your year right with the Chubby Trainer Diet. 

Hey, we know it’s a silly title, but seriously, it’s a very effective and, more importantly, doable diet. It’s all about a balanced approach to dieting, and our clients have seen amazing results! We hope you will, too. Send an email to James@SOFHEALTHANDWELLNESS.com titled “The Chubby Trainer Diet” in the subject line and we will send you your copy right away!

Best of luck, and feel free to reach out if you need any professional support or guidance along the way!

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