How do you choose the best health club to join this winter?
In the past month, I have noticed a heavy rotation of commercials on TV, radio, and online marketing health clubs. New Year’s resolutions to “lose weight” or “bulk up” or “get fit” are being recited in a lot of households here in Southern RI. RI has an abundance of health club and fitness studio options, so there is no shortage of options. But, how do you choose which one is the best? I say it is a personal and individual decision that is different for each person – Mom, Dad, teenager, athlete, active older adult, swimmer, biker, Weekend Warrior. Here are some factors you should consider this winter when choosing a health club:
- Trial memberships are available. Most health clubs will let you try out their health club for a few days, sometimes a week. Take advantage of this. Get to the gym during your trial membership at various times, if you can, to see how busy it gets. Or, go at the same time so you can see how going to the gym affects your personal life’s schedule. This is especially important to the busy parent or someone who has a long commute to work every day.
- Reviews online are a great resource, but not the only resource. When you visit a gym, look around at the state of the equipment, the state of the facility. Not just out of order signs, but machines that have signs of wear or even dirt. Keeping up with the demands of a heavy traffic type gym requires daily maintenance on the machines. I always felt that the club that takes care of its equipment is essentially taking care of its members. If you can, ask a current member about the state of the equipment.
- Determine what you want to do at the gym. If you like Pilates, go to a Pilates Studio type gym where you will get more personal attention. If you like swimming, make sure the pool is available at times that work for your schedule. If you like running or walking, ask the club salesperson about the treadmills – how old they are, what features they offer. If you are into strength training or you are training for a sport, make sure you get to the strength training room and see the layout.
- Value is not always about dollars and cents. Club memberships are very inexpensive in some places, as low as $10/month. But, be sure to read the fine print on those $10/month clubs. And, if those clubs are 20 minutes out of your way – to work, to daycare, in general – they don’t become a convenient part of your day. Value in a health club to me is location, services offered, quality of equipment, and hours of operation.
Personally, I am a member of the YMCA of Greater Providence. To me, it has the highest value. Again, a health club membership is a personal and individual thing. I can work out at any YMCA in the USA. They have pools, I’m a swimmer. They have basketball courts, my kids love basketball. They have equipment that has been recently upgraded. The YMCA has been around for decades and has an excellent reputation for family services, which I need. So, my personal choice is the YMCA, right here in North Kingstown on Post Road.
If you are looking into a health club for the first time or are switching clubs this winter, do your research at the health club itself. As stated earlier, online reviews are great but I don’t feel like they should be used to make your final decision. Walk around the club, talk to the fitness director, talk to other members, look at the equipment and the facilities amenities such as the locker rooms, the pool area (if applicable), the daycare room, the cardio room, the weight room. Determine what your priorities are and find the best value for you and/or your family.