International Gym Database - Gym Locator
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When choosing a gym, first determine what your goals are and what you plan to expect from a gym. Plan to visit the gym during the busier times or at least the times that you expect to be attending. The busier periods are usually between the hours of 8AM to 11AM in the morning and 4PM to 7PM in the evenings. Gyms are also busier at the beginning of the year as a result of so-called New Year resolutions, which lasts for about two months. Warmer days allow more outdoor activities and subsequently less gym attendance as well. Visiting the gym during the busier times will determine whether there are enough cardio and weight training machines or crowded conditions resulting in long waiting periods to use equipment.
Gym Checklist - Ask Yourself
What are your goals
- How close to home or work is the gym?
- Are you looking for cardio classes, personal trainers, swimming pool?
- What goals are you hoping to achieve; i.e., cardio fitness, weight loss, muscle building?
- What time of day and how often per week will you be able to attend?
- Will you need a contract or a pay per visit type of membership.
- Will you need professional advice on nutrition, weight loss, weights, or machine use?
- Will you need child care?
- How busy does the gym get in the evenings and on weekends?
Gym Checklist - Ask the Gym
What needs can they meet
- What are the club's hours?
- Are there both showers and lockers in the changing rooms?
- Are fitness instructors available to answer questions?
- Are tailored exercise programs available?
- Are fitness classes available and are they included in the membership price?
- Are fitness assessment tests and/or personal training sessions available with the membership?
- Are pool, sauna, ball courts or hot tub facilities available? Are they included in the membership fees?
- Do fitness classes cover a wide timetable.
- How much is the membership fee?
- Are there day vs. evening or off-peak membership plans?
- Are membership periods available for a year or a month?
- Can membership be cancelled and under what penalty?
- Can membership be frozen or extended for periods of non-use?
- Are memberships automatically renewed?
- Automatic debiting of your account is less preferred than autopay from your bank.
- Are there any other fees, such as for towel use or group fitness classes?
- Can monthly fees be raised without notice?
- Are there initiation fees?
- Is there a group package or corporate account program available?
- Is there a grace period during which you can cancel your membership and receive a full or partial refund?
- Will they provide you with a written set of rules and policies?
Gym Checklist - Your Observations
General Gym Conditions
There are two types of gyms, body building gyms and fitness centers. The body building gyms usually cater to competitive body building while fitness centers provide more than just free weights and machines. The clientele will differ as well. Those not into competitive building may feel uncomfortable in that type of facility.
- Does the gym, equipment and locker areas appear clean and odor free?
- Is there an adequate flow of air or is it hot and stuffy?
- Temperatures should not exceed 75 degrees and should range between 65 and 70 degrees as ideal.
- Is the music too loud or annoying and will it drown out your own headphones?
The condition of the exercise equipment is critical. Malfunctioning or failed equipment can result in serious or fatal injuries. If you are not sure of the condition of the equipment, test it unloaded before loading weights. Like a pilot, preflight the equipment before use.
- Verify that there is sufficient space between equipment to prevent accidents and to allow spotters to move freely.
- Are the machines well-maintained or old, grinding, worn or dirty?
- Are the gym rules enforced such as towel requirements, wipe-downs of equipment and weight replacements?
- Is there a sufficient variety of equipment to provide complete workouts.
- How often is the equipment cleaned and tested?
- Are there enough barbells and weights to avoid long waiting periods during peak times.
There are three basic types of equipment, resistance machines, free weights and cardiovascular machines. Machines should be adjusted for proper fit to avoid injury. There should be a variety of free weights, resistance exercise machines and cardio machines. Be sure to make a visit during peak hours to determine if there are enough of the very popular cardio machines.
- Free weights from 2 to 160 lbs., in 2 or 3 lb. intervals up to 20 lbs., and then in 5 lb. intervals.
- Squat rack.
- Adjustable benches.
- Upper and Lower cable pulleys including various handles.
- Preacher curl board.
- Pec deck.
- Dip bars.
- Leg press.
- Both standing and seated calf presses.
- Squat machine.
- Leg extension machine.
- Seated leg curl machine.
- Lat machines with various handles.
- Treadmills, stepper machines, stationary cycles, rowing machines.
- Are the shower walls, floors and ceiling clean or are there signs of mildew or fungus?
- Bent locker doors may indicate that lockers have been forced open indicating security issues.
- Do the locker rooms smell clean or are they musty and odorous?
- Is the staff helpful and courteous or dismissive and inattentive?
- Is there a staff presence on the floor readily available for assistance?
- Do the trainers appear knowledgeable or overbearing and obnoxious?
- Are the personal trainer's certificates of qualification available for viewing?
- Do they offer you a basic fitness assessment before you start an exercise program?
- Do they offer you a periodic reassessment of your basic fitness levels and goals?