Thursday, August 6, 2015

finding the best gym


I train at five different gyms. I don’t recommend this unless necessary but I often get asked what gym I prefer. Big box or private? Brand “X” or brand “Y”? Hard core or more beginner friendly?

A lot depends on your needs, likes, goals and personality as well as you level of experience.

I have to assume you are not too hard core. If you are, you’ve probably already made you own decision.


·         Look at how well the equipment is maintained. Look for rust, missing or cracked grips on machines. Are the machines securely fastened (to the floor or wall or ceiling), if appropriate. Are there loose or missing pins or cracked plates or loose collars.
·         Are there an appropriate number of machines, or other apparatus? This is subjective but if you see lines waiting for the most popular equipment (benches, dumbbells, squat racks) keep looking.
·         Is the equipment and the gym in general clean and neat. (Including the dressing rooms and showers)


·         Can most or all of the machines be used unilaterally? That is, can you effectively use the machine using only one arm or one leg? Even better, does each side have a separate stack of weights so you can use different loads for each arm or each leg?
·         Is there ample separate space allotted for various activities? ( warm up or stretching, cardio, heavy lifting, ab work, etc)
·         “Bumper” plates are a definite plus. Bumper plates are made of rubberized material (or rubber coated) which makes them quieter and easier to handle. Don’t expect any gym to have 100% bumper plates but having some is a plus.
·         Padded or rubberized dumbbells are also a plus.
·         Are the cable stations sufficient in number and versatility? And are there sufficient attachments? ( D-handles, close grip, wide grip, rope attachments, slugs-SEVERAL SETS OF EACH)
·         The following are also a definite plus:
TRX Apparatus
Heavy Bags (boxing or kick boxing)

The following are optional         
                                                Sauna/Steam room
                                                Physical therapist

                OTHER SERVICES

What other services do the offer? Personal trainers educated in the specialties you are interested in, various group classes, nutritionalist? What is included in the base membership and what costs extra? (And how much?)


Every gym has a personality of its own. Intentional or not.

Some are more beginner friendly than others. But remember, you won’t be a beginner for long! Don’t get locked into a gym now that won’t fit you later. Some place more emphasis on one phase of fitness than others. More cardio-less heavy resistance, more class oriented-less individual fitness, etc.

Frankly, some are very anti-fitness! They’ll kick you out for grunting after embarrassing you with a “Lunk Alarm”. They’ll serve you free donuts and tootsie Rolls and pizza once a week. (Rewarding you for the hard work they won’t let you do!) No dead lifts or squats! Basically, a day care center for adults.

If you can, rely, at least in part, on suggestions from friends you know have the same fitness goals and attitude as you. Ask for a week’s free pass to see if the gym is going to fit your goals and personality. (I’ve never had this request denied)

Learn the rules and gym etiquette to increase your comfort level. Ask for a printed copy of their rules.

Compare prices! Don’t necessarily go for the cheapest but don’t feel like you overpaid either. The gym business is very competitive. If two gyms are comparable and fit your needs and one is higher priced point that out to the higher priced one. They’ll often match a competitor’s lower price or give other concessions.


SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO  If I don’t have an answer I’ll find someone who does.

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