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
Brandshatch Place and Spa
Brands Hatch Road
Fawkham, Kent, DA3 8NQ
W: handpickedhotels.co.uk/brands hatchplace/be-active
T: 01474 875040
Tandridge Leisure Centre
Hoskins Road, Oxted
Surrey, RH8 9HT
T: 01883 716717