Losing weight and changing your lifestyle is uncomfortable enough. Throw in that mix the confusion of how to go about it in a foreign environment displaying many different apparatus resembling a scene out of a science fiction flick and it is downright discouraging! A good idea first before joining a gym (or choosing a trainer) is to take a tour of the facility at the same time of day which you would be working out in that facility. This will give you an idea of how crowded or not the gym is at that time and also will give you an opportunity to feel the vibe of the people (members and staff) with which you will be intimately sharing this space.
Other tips to consider before signing that contract:
-Call the gym first and ask for directions. How does the staff member answer the phone? Is there parking available or easy access by transit?
-What does the facility offer inclusive of your membership? Are there any classes which pique your interest? Are they extra cost? Do you even want to participate in classes or are you more a soldier who wants to go solo?
-Does your membership include: towel service, a locker, a fitness consultation with a trainer, buddy passes to bring your friend for a free visit?
-Are there any trainers working at the gym and is this a service that you are or could be interested in?
-Are there spray bottles with a disinfectant supplied throughout the gym so that the machines could be wiped of sweat after use? Are people using them!?
-Is there a comment box visible for complaints or suggestions? How are these comments dealt with and by whom?
-How interested or involved is the gym in your progress? Are there signs posted advertising seminars, food tips or motivational sayings? Are these postings updated?
-Are there any pieces of equipment with an ’out of order’ sign on it/them? Does the sign obviously appear to have been hanging there a really long time?
-Is the change room clean? Is this a space you would feel comfortable exposing your skin? Check the showers, is there soap grime, is there soap? Are there toiletries offered, is this important to you? Are there enough lockers to supply all the members of your gender at peak time?
-Is the person giving you the tour generous with their information and time?
-How long has the gym been in business? Who owns the gym? Private or Franchise?
-What are the payment options? Usually paying in full sum for the year will save you some money but do you feel more comfortable paying monthly in case of bankruptcy or foreclosure?
-What is the cancellation policy in case you move away or become ill?
-Is there an option to freeze the membership? How many times and for how long? Freezing a membership most of the time means that payment will still come out of your account as scheduled but the additional months will be added on at the end of the term. Be clear about this when you inquire.
At some point during your tour or after your tour, steal aside a moment to engage with an existing member to ask them out their experience at that gym. This could be casually done in the change room or washroom. Just make sure they are not a staff member and most people will be completely honest. If they are not happy with anything about the facility and are only there because they are stuck, they will gladly discourage you from making the same mistake!
Over the years, the gym industry has developed a bad reputation for pushing contracts too aggressively. Contracts are a reality when signing up for a gym in fact, if you are not presented with a pretty thorough contract then run! There is a reason for rules and regulations and it could be wrapped up in one word - liability! You want to be a part of a gym which takes liability seriously because it is serious business. Remember, you have rights as a consumer and before signing that contract find out how many days grace period you have to back out if you experience consumer remorse. I know in Ontario, Canada you have 10 days.
Shopping for a gym is the worst of it. After what seems like hard work in finding the right one for you, the rest should be gravy….low-fat of course!!!