New Year, new you! It’s possibly the toughest decision you’ll make all year!

Every January, thousands of people all over the country will start a new gym membership, with the aim of getting fitter and losing a bit of weight. But do we really know what we’re getting for our money before we sign that contract? Sevenoaks Sport & Wellbeing investigates what to look for when joining a new gym.

First things first, congratulations, you’ve decided to join a gym! But now you need to make sure you choose the right gym for you!

Whether you are a fitness newbie or someone looking to take their training routine to the next level, the gym is a fantastic option. It may be obvious, but joining a gym is good for your health and fitness. We all know the benefits that regular exercise has on our health, such as lower blood pressure, reduced risk of major illnesses, promotion of weight loss and increased energy levels, along with this exercise plays a major role on our mental health, boosting self-esteem, improving mood levels, decreasing anxieties, lowering stress and aiding better sleep. Joining a gym can help encourage a healthy routine and is also a great way to be social and meet like-minded people helping you to stay on track in a supportive and encouraging environment.

Other huge benefits to joining a gym is access to all the various equipment, allowing you to keep your routine fresh and exciting and the ability to use these facilities regardless of the Great British weather! A gym membership gives you full access to qualified and knowledgeable fitness experts who can advise you on the best exercises and workouts for reaching your goals.

When choosing a new gym, it’s important to know your fitness needs and goals and to choose a gym that is best suited to you. Not only will the right gym for your personal workout style go a long way towards keeping you focused and achieving those goals, it can also become a place you look forward to going to for years to come.

Write out a list of your absolute must-haves for your gym, which are different from the nice-to-haves. For example if you are seriously into strength training, a spacious and well-maintained free weight area will be a must have on your list, alternatively, if gym classes are your thing, make sure these are on offer and that they are also available at a convenient time for you.

Most gyms offer a large variety of classes and equipment, the key is to make sure what’s on offer appeals to you.

To eliminate excuses for skipping your workout, choose a location based on your lifestyle. Do you plan on going to the gym during your lunch break or after work? Your best gym is one close to your workplace. If you plan on going first thing in the mornings or at the weekend, you may want to choose a gym close to where you live. Also, will you be showering and getting ready for work at the gym? Don’t forget to take your pre-and post-workout routine into consideration when making your list.

Check the opening hours at the gym, is the gym open when you need it? Including holidays and weekends? Make sure the gym will be open at the times you intend to train, otherwise you’ll be paying for something you can’t use.

Once you’ve worked out your ‘must have’ list, visit the gyms themselves. Importantly, visit the gyms during the hours you would intend to visit if you were to join. Does it get really busy? Is there enough equipment available for you to work out without a wait? Look at the specific equipment you plan on using, is there a queue? Some gyms may have restrictions on the use of their equipment during peak periods (e.g. equipment that can’t be used for longer than 15 minutes), this will give you a good idea as to whether any restrictions would affect you.

When you walk into a potential new gym, pay attention to all the details. Is the lighting too bright? Too dim? Music too loud? Classes too crowded?

Things that may not seem important during your initial tour can become major gripes later on. Are the staff welcoming and supportive and are they readily available to offer help and advise when needed? It is important to find a gym you will feel comfortable to exercise in.

The best gyms prioritise cleanliness, so look for signs of regular maintenance. Are staff members wiping down equipment throughout the day? Are the changing rooms and showers clean? Budget and Costs. Joining a new gym is a big financial commitment. Look at the payment schedule, can you pay each month? Weekly? Or do you have to commit yourself to an entire year as a member? Can you cancel without penalty? If you only visit during off-peak hours, then check if the gym offers a discounted membership, and if you intend to take group exercise classes, are these included or is there an additional cost?

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask any questions, a great friendly and knowledgeable gym will be only too happy to answer any queries you may have, and remember everyone has to have a first day!

Local gyms within easy reach of Sevenoaks and the surrounding areas

Better Body Group
Unit 3, Sevenoaks Enterprise Centre
Bat and Ball Road
Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 5LJ
W: betterbodygroup.co.uk
E: enquiries@betterbodygroup.co.uk
T: 01732 451979

Sencio Community Leisures
Edenbridge Leisure Centre
Stangrove Park, Edenbridge
Kent, TN8 5LU
W: sencio.org.co.uk
E: elc@sencio.org.co.uk
T: 01732 865665

Sevenoaks Leisure Centre
Buckhurst Lane, Sevenoaks
Kent, TN13 1LW
W: sencio.org.co.uk
E: slc@sencio.org.co.uk
T: 01732 470700

White Oak Leisure Centre
Hilda May Avenue, Swanley
Kent, BR8 7BT
W: sencio.org.co.uk
E: wolc@sencio.org.co.uk
T: 01322 662188

BodyWorx Westerham
Valley Barn, Beggars Lane
Westerham, Kent, TN16 1QP
W: bodyworxwesterham.fit
E: info@bodyworxwesterham.fit
T: 07743013424

Brandshatch Place and Spa
Brands Hatch Road
Fawkham, Kent, DA3 8NQ
W: handpickedhotels.co.uk/brands hatchplace/be-active
E: brandshatchplace@handpicked.co.uk
T: 01474 875040

Brands Hatch Spa Naturel
Mercure Brands Hatch Hotel
Brands Hatch
Dartford, Kent, DA3 8PE
W: spanaturelfitness.com
E: brandshatch@spanaturelfitness.club
T: 01474 855705

Crossfit Chalkbox
Cricketts Farm Cottages
Borough Green Road
Ightham, Sevenoaks 
Kent, TN15 9JB
W: crossfitchalkbox.com
E: agnes@crossfitchalkbox.com
T: 07905 789144

Crossfit Tonbridge
The Hayesbrook School
Brook Street
Tonbridge
Kent, TN9 2PH
W: crossfittonbridge.co.uk
E: info@crossfittonbridge.co.uk
T: 07759 274006

FORM Personal Training
111 St Johns Hill
Sevenoaks
Kent, TN13 3PE
W: formtraining.co.uk
E: hello@formtraining.co.uk
T: 01732 461314

Freedom Leisure
Tandridge Leisure Centre
Hoskins Road, Oxted
Surrey, RH8 9HT
W: freedom-leisure.co.uk
T: 01883 716717

Hilden Park Golf & Leisure Club
Hilden Golf Centre, Rings Hill
Hildenborough, Kent, TN11 8LX
W: hildenpark.co.uk/fitness
E: info@hildenpark.co.uk
T: 01732 833607

Knole Active
Knole Academy
Bradbourne Vale Road
Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 3LE
W: knoleacademy.org
E: sport@knoleacademy.org
T: 07799 050312

MoorEnergy Fitness Club
Fullers Hill
Westerham
Kent, TN16 1AA
W: moorenergyfitnessclub.co.uk
E: info@moorenergy.co.uk
T: 01959 561622

Nizels Golf & Country Club
Nizels Lane
Hildenborough
Kent, TN11 8NU
W: nizelsgolfandcountryclub.com
E: nizels.info@theclubcompany.com
T: 01732 833833

PureGym Tonbridge
Avebury Avenue
Tonbridge
Kent, TN9 1TF
W: puregym.com
E: info.tonbridge@puregym.com
T: 03450 133548

Reynolds Retreat Leisure Centre
Quarry Hill Rd, Borough Green, Sevenoaks
Kent, TN15 8PB
W: reynoldsgroup.co.uk/retreat
E: info@reynolds.co.uk
T: 01732 446050

Snap Fitness Tonbridge
Morley Road, Tonbridge, Kent
W: snapfitness.co.uk/gyms/Tonbridge
E: tonbridge@snapfitness.co.uk
T: 01732 353767

Spirit Health Club
Holiday Inn, London Road
Wrotham Heath, Sevenoaks
Kent, TN15 7RS
W: spirithealthclubs.co.uk
E: spirit@himaidstone.com
T: 01732 781192

TM Active
Angel Centre, Angel Lane
Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1SF
W: tmactive.co.uk
E: angel.leisurecentre@tmactive.co.uk
T: 01732 772697