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Choosing a new gym this month? Read this

Resolved to join a gym this month but still struggling with the choice? Co-Women’s co-founder and resident personal trainer, Becky Hughes, shares her guide to making the decision…

Choosing a gym to join is one of those things that should be easy, but can quickly get complicated. It would be one thing for me to answer this as a Personal Trainer, and another as a member – I know you’re almost certainly looking to be the latter, so I’ll take you back in time (not very far!) to my own thought process when I first took out gym membership…

Navigating gym membership roadblocks Two of my biggest barriers were money (I was on a low income) and the absolute conviction that I’d hate it (and therefore didn’t want to commit to a contract – luckily, these have gone out of fashion in the industry anyway).

I decided that my goal was to train once per week, and that this could therefore be on a day off work, so other than not being a million miles from home, I wasn’t tied to a location. As we all know, location IS critical, and I would suggest that you think about this element first. Start where I did with knowing how many times per week you’d like to train, and at which end of the day. This will help you narrow down the location, as you’ll know how long it takes to factor in a gym trip alongside any other commitments, such as childcare, commute, caring responsibilities, errands and a social life!

Make going to the gym easy for yourself The truth is that we don’t like hard things, so having a gym which is near to your home or workplace helps. How you’re going to get there also matters – if you don’t drive, and choose a gym in the middle of the countryside that takes three buses to get to even on a Wednesday, how realistic is it that you’ll go? I live in a rural area, so drive everywhere, and that for me means that parking is a must, and ideally it should be free – this is fortunately achievable in the towns nearest to home!

Affordability of gyms matters Next will probably be cost of membership, and any commitment of finances. Make sure you find out if your potential gym has a joining fee, and what their cancellation policy is, plus the ongoing cost should you decide you’re in for life! I did the maths on mine, looking at how many times I’d initially attend per month and what my per session cost would then be – if you’re really into your financial management, you could factor in travel costs, such as petrol, parking, or public transport fees here.

If you’re a person who loves classes, find out whether there’s a class pass, classes are included, or you’re expected to pay as you go, plus how booking works. If you prefer to fly solo, you may not need to worry about this, but you may also want to factor in some PT sessions (hint hint!) for yourself too.

What equipment should the gym I join have? Back when I was first looking, I had no idea what I was doing so machines weren’t important to me – I didn’t know what any of them were for! However, environment still matters: get a member of the team to show you around before you join. Check how clean and cared for the equipment looks. Are the staff friendly? Do they have accessible toilets and changing rooms? Does it feel safe?! These are all good things to ask yourself. And if they’re pressuring you to sign up on the spot… well that’s a straight no.

Things change and evolve for all of us, and should you need to move on for any reason, your criteria may be slightly different (for example, I’d now look for what I believe to be a good number of lifting platforms and squat racks, as these pieces of kit are a priority for me). If you’re a class person and the instructor you prefer moves on, hopefully you can follow them, or use that as a chance to try something new if you can’t.

Getting stuck on choosing a place to train shouldn’t be something that you allow to hold you back, hopefully this guide has shifted something for you! But if not, I’m happy to help!

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