How to choose the right local gym

Finding the perfect local gym is hard, and you certainly want to make sure you're happy before signing any contracts!

There are many reasons to find a local gym. Health. Fitness. Weight loss. All differing motives that will drive your gym search. Most of us desire to better ourselves. Like myself for example, after 6 months off sport, recovering from a broken bone—I’m looking for a little non-impact exercise… a place to quietly, over time, gain strength and fitness back.

The gym attrition stats are horrendous. Around 80% of those who join a gym in January will have quit by May. Only about half of those who stay actually attend on a regular basis. That’s why it’s most important to find the right gym, one you actually like—so you’ll go back again and again.

Some gyms cater for niche markets; you’ll find women’s only gyms, and other places that may be aimed more at bodybuilders and sports professionals. But most gyms can’t afford to be picky in a saturated market, so do their level best to cater to everyone. You’ll see hawkers outside giving out leaflets, and receive special offers on social media and flyers in the mail. Believe me, they want your business.

So where to start the gym search?

Write a list

Jot down your “must-haves”, your “nice-to-haves” and your “definitely-don’t-want-to-haves”. Everyone is at a different stage in their fitness journey, so is going to have different needs. Maybe you’re wanting to build strength for a specific sport, so a good space with a free weight area will be high on your list. Or maybe like me you’re looking to build aerobic fitness so quality spin bikes, rowers and aerobic classes will be up there.

Go local

Are you really going to trek across town to that sparkling new outfit with all the sparking new gear? Probably not; at least not in the long term. Because of the high risk of attrition, you want to make this as easy on yourself as possible. There will be local gyms. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know that after a long day’s work, you’re only going to go if the gym’s nearby. Midway between office and work is perfect. No excuses.

Pay a Visit (online and off)

You might be asking: how can I find gyms near me? Well, it pays to do your research and carry out a gym comparison. This saves wasting your time (and everyone else’s). The Fit-Map website has been designed for people looking for a local gym or personal trainer, in a specific location, based on their needs and goals they’re looking to achieve. If you’d prefer to do all your research in one place, it’s a great place to start.

Getting physical means you’ll first need to pay a physical visit. You want to feel relaxed and comfortable when you walk in. Although feng shui and walls of exercise equipment may not seem easy bedfellows, environment does have a huge impact on mood. That starts with the staff. Are they friendly? Welcoming? Trained? And continues with décor, tidiness/cleanliness, and how well the machines are maintained. Ask yourself is this the place you want to be spending 60 minutes of every second day? If the answers yes, you’re more likely to make it beyond the month of May.

What else? Extras

A sauna after a workout can be a great way to unwind. What about staff expertise? Local gyms can offer anything from a massage therapist to a nutritionist—which can really make it a one-stop shop to get your body in order. Boxing ring, anyone?

As Albert Einstein said: 'Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.' Exercise is about finding balance in life. Finding the right gym is vital to achieving that balance. I’m off to find mine. Good luck with your gym search!