It’s important to choose the right gym with an environment that will help keep you motivated and focused on your fitness goals. Because each gym is distinct in its amenities, atmosphere, machines and pricing, it’s important to evaluate what you need from a gym before you even start looking at membership packages.

What is your gym budget?

The first place to start is in deciding on a budget. How much are you willing to pay for your monthly membership?

Depending on the gym, memberships cost between about $15 and $60 with health club and spa oriented facilities charging upwards of $200. Gym memberships also typically require an activation fee that is most commonly between $50 and $100.

group-fitness-classOf course, in today’s economy, many gyms are offering much cheaper rates and even waiving the activation fee so make sure you look for deals before you go out and choose a gym.

Compare health club amenities with your needs

While pricing is important, the deciding factor in choosing a gym should always be the facilities. This is where is becomes a very personal decision because you have to decide if you need a gym with a pool or a sauna or racquetball courts.

Such amenities are directly tied to pricing, so you have to factor such requirements into your budget. Things to look for include whether or not the gym has a towel service, a cardio theater or the right group classes.

Gym and group classes can really help advance your fitness goals

Many people find that cardio theaters and group classes help them stay motivated as they try to lose weight so, if you are trying to lose weight, look for a gym that includes these features. Also, make sure the gym has the right group classes for you. If you spin but the gym only offers Pilates and yoga, you may want to look elsewhere. Some gyms will offer personal training and others will even offer one free session. If you're a beginner, a personal trainer may give you the individual attention you need. There are several pros and cons to using a personal trainer.

Also, a sauna, steam room or whirlpool may seem unnecessary when you first decide on a gym but, if you’re joining a gym in order to bulk up, you’re going to want such amenities once you really get into your workout. They’re a great way to relax your muscles after a difficult workout and newer gyms tend to include them in a basic membership.

How is the gym equipment? Is it suited to your fitness goals?

Another big factor in choosing a gym is whether or not it has the equipment you need. If you’re joining a gym to bulk up, you want to go somewhere with state-of-the-art resistance machines and free weights. Similarly, someone looking to lose weight needs access to plenty of cardio machines and a smaller selection of resistance machines.

Don’t compromise on equipment just to save a few dollars.Of course, your gym also needs to be clean. When you’re choosing a gym, make sure it has sanitizing spray or wipes distributed around the exercise area so that patrons can clean machines and other equipment. It’s not a good sign if the floor is dirty or machines aren’t well maintained.
Equally, your gym’s atmosphere should make you comfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable in a co-ed gym, you might be interested in a single-sex gym.
No matter what your requirements, make sure you try the gym for a few days before you join. Most every gym offers a trial period and it’s important you take them up on it, try out the classes, use the machines and make sure the non-fitness issues like parking go smoothly.
Consider these variables before joining a gym and make sure you try it out before you sign up. A gym membership is a major investment both financially and in terms of your health; it is not a purchase to be made lightly. Be sure to use's extensive database to both find a gym and also to read their reviews / ratings - with over 30,000 gyms, fitness, and health clubs.   

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