All gyms are not created equal. Just because you join the gym down the block it does not mean it’s the ideal gym for you. Joining a gym in line with your goals is extremely important for maximizing your muscular gains. These 10 tips will help you weed out the crappy gyms and help you uncover the optimal environment for you.
Before you even step foot in the door of any gyms you must ask yourself, what are your goals? If you aspire to be a world-class powerlifter joining a Planet Fitness may not be the smartest idea. Based on the physique you are trying to build that should help you weed out undesirable gyms.
Location, location, location. Aside from being important for a business, your gym's location is extremely important to your training regimen. If your gym is 30 minutes away, chances are you will miss more sessions then you actually make. Commuting time to and from the gym also plays a big role in the amount of time you can commit to working out. I have found that the ideal travel time for the gym is around 5-15 minutes. Anything more than that, and your gym commute will be worse then your work commute.
I always recommend getting a guest pass to the gym before you actually commit to buying. You want to test out all the machines, check the environment and experiment with different times so you get a feel for the gym before committing. You can get a good feel if you like the place by working out there for a week.
The first thing I look for when I find a gym is the equipment type. I don’t look for brand new stuff, (even though that is a plus) I always scope out to see if they have enough power racks, dumbbells, and benches. In addition to that I also observe the space between all the equipment. Does the gym have ample room? Or does it look crowded and closed in? Trust me battling for space to use the equipment is not fun. When I go on a gym tour I like to try out all the different machines to check if I will like or dislike anything.
Does walking into the gym make you want to lift crazy weight, or is the gym putting you to sleep. You want to make sure the gym will provide you with a good positive lifting environment. Some gyms just have no "energy" and the atmosphere seems almost dead. While this may not sound like a big deal, I am telling you on the days when you don’t feel like working out, it is. You want to walk into a place that motivates you and amps you up.
No slamming of the weights, no deadlifts allowed, bo T-bar rows, lunk alarms, the list of stupid gym rules goes on and on. Some gyms just don't cater to certain people. For instance, if you walked into a Planet Fitness and you are a grunter, more than likely you will get thrown out. You need to align yourself with a gym that fits your lifting habits. If you like to deadlift, find a gym that has a platform.
There’s nothing more disgusting then going into a dirty, disgusting looking gym. If you need a tetanus shot before working out there its a good idea not to join. Always check out the bathrooms and the benches. Are the machines cleaned and well maintained or are they ratty or dirty. Lets face it, it is a gym and it wont be as sanitary as a hospital but your not working out at the garbage dump either. I have been in some gyms where I felt I couldn’t even workout with a tank top on. I would not be comfortable working out there on a daily basis.
"Hey bro, need a spot", "Hey man you need to eat eight ounces of chicken breast 20 minutes after a workout to make gains, bro". This is where Planet Fitness may have it right with the lunk alarm. There is nothing worse then getting ready for a heavy squat while having to listen to the bros talk about the girl on the treadmill while fist pumping. While I maybe exaggerating there are plenty of people who go into the gym to socialize. If you are serious about results you are there to work. If the gym is full of meatheads that will distract you, it may not be a good environment for you.
"Join now for only $1," have you seen those advertisements around? I am sure you have. That’s how most gyms lure people in. Low barrier offers that sound too good to be true. There is a lot of fine print in a gym contract. Most gyms have a maintenance and enhancement fee, which is a basically a fee charged to you in addition to your standard monthly dues to help "enhance" the gym. You want to ask about any fees associated with your membership. See what is included and what would be extra. Ask a lot of questions before you sign on the dotted line.
This is a big one, one of the most important things to me when working out is making sure I have plenty of fresh crisp air while I workout. Nothing is worse then going into a hot sweaty gym with no air flowing through it. The place stinks and can make you feel uncomfortable. When you go on your initial tour of the gym take note, if the free weight area is too hot or cool, are their fans or windows? A stuffy gym can be irritable and uncomfortable.