How to Choose Gyms
Written By: SportsShoes
Fitness studios, health clubs, leisure centre’s… with so much choice available it’s hard to know how to choose the right gym. That’s why we’ve asked PT, James Butterfield to share his advice on how to pick the best training environment for you.
What are your training goals?
Firstly, you must consider your training goals. If you want to improve your strength then the fact a gym has a sauna and swimming pool may be pretty low on your list of priorities. Instead, look for a gym with a large weight’s section. On the other hand, if you’re goal is to simply get fitter then you would benefit from a gym with a large selection of cardio equipment. The building, the ethos of the owners and staff, and also the makeup of its current member-base will give you a very good idea of what you are looking at.
Location of a gym is crucial to promoting attendance, if you pass the gym on the way home then you have less excuses for not going, if, however it’s a 45-minute drive in the opposite direction then it’s very easy to skip a session or two. Pick a gym in a location that’s going to work for you.
Visit for yourself
In the modern age, we have everything available at our fingertips, and whilst a gym may have a fancy website and excellent social media presence, you really can’t get a true feel for somewhere without stepping through the door and experiencing it for yourself. Aim to visit a potential gym at the times you are most likely to use it. It is no good seeing the gym empty if you plan to train after work when gyms are traditionally busy.
Equipment is also very important, does the gym focus more on cardio or resistance training? Is the kit in good condition and well maintained? This must match your training goals, if there is only one squat rack and you want to squat will you be able to do the workout you want to do or be made to improvise?
James’s take on the different gyms available
These tend to be a more expensive option with more of a focus on the environment (nicely manicured grounds, private car park etc.). Health clubs often have an element of exclusivity and are normally part of a chain so finding gyms nationwide will be possible. These will more than likely have a swimming pool and/or sauna, which can be a nice addition!
These are the most common types of gym and are a much cheaper option. These gyms tend to have more of a focus on the numbers of members as opposed to customer service (you need a lot of members paying £15 a month to make a gym profitable!) and are likely to be busy the majority of the time. Again, these gyms will usually be part of a national/international chain so a good option if you travel regularly for work and want to keep up to your routine.
This could be a gym specializing in olympic weightlifting, power lifting, running, sport, CrossFit.... the list is endless. The very nature of this type of gym makes them very niche, so if your goal is more specific then it may be a good option. On the other hand, if you are wanting to improve your half marathon pb then a gym specializing in Olympic lifting won’t be much use to you!
Probably the most popular place for the majority to train, these gyms are not governed by shareholders and directors in the way the budget gyms are. As such there’s usually a much more personal approach. Standards at these gym’s vary massively, some are fantastic, some not so. The good private gyms will place a big focus on atmosphere and member welfare and will more than likely be someone’s pride and joy so they want it to work well.
Ultimately, the best gym for you is one where you feel comfortable and have the support you need to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. For more advice check out the rest of our Training Hub.