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How to Choose a Gym: 6 Important Factors to Consider

members and staff at the front desk of a Planet Fitness gym
Part of the appeal of joining a gym is the perks you receive for being a member.

by Lindsay Tigar

Here's a great way to stay committed to your fitness journey: Sign up for a gym membership that offers exactly what you need! Sounds simple enough, right?

When determining how to choose a gym, it is important to consider the facility's amenities and offerings. From guest privileges and hours of operation to location and additional perks, these can make (or break) your gym experience. And hey, it's always nice to have a plan that's affordable, so you can focus more on getting fit — and not on minding your budget.

Here are six factors to consider when choosing a gym that's compatible with your lifestyle.

1. Gym Hours

Between balancing work, family, and (of course) sleep — you only have so much time to spare. So, a fitness club that opens late and closes early probably isn't going to work for your schedule.

When considering a gym, inquire not only about the hours but also about exactly what is offered during those times. When are trainers available? Are there amenities or sections of the gym that are closed during certain times? It's important to have a clear idea of the club's hours and offerings, so you can plan your workout schedule accordingly.

2. Training Options

Everyone approaches a sweat session differently; while some can motivate and guide themselves through a routine, others need the guidance of a professional. Some fitness enthusiasts feed off the energy of group training, while others prefer one-on-one sessions.

When choosing a gym, it is important to investigate each location's variety of training options that can help keep you on track toward your goals. If you prefer having access to a fitness professional, find a gym that recognizes the value of training and the importance of offering the service to members — especially at an affordable price.

3. Guest Privileges

Part of the appeal of joining a gym is the perks you receive for being a member. But every gym varies on what they offer.

What do we mean? Well, some clubs will provide guest passes so you can finally talk your best pal or partner into working out with you; the PF Black Card takes it one step further and allows you to bring a friend every time you work out. Other gyms offer complimentary smoothies or breakfasts (hello, bagels!) simply for being a part of the community. Some even offer online portals and forums so you can find support and inspiration on your fitness journey. Additionally, many clubs offer special services — like massages — so don't forget to ask about their selection.

It's also important to be clear on what's not offered, and what the trade-offs may be. For example, it's nice to have towels provided for you, but gyms with that amenity may be a lot more expensive. You should always look to get the most bang for your buck when deciding how to choose a gym.

4. Club Locations

Having a gym near your home or workplace makes it more likely you'll be able to get in several workouts a week. If you go with a national franchise, chances are high you'll have at least a few spots in your city.

If you want to visit two different locations for convenience, make sure to ask about splitting your time between both gyms, so you give yourself the best shot at exercising regularly. Going on vacation, or travel a lot for work? Planet Fitness members who have the PF Black Card® can access all club locations!

5. Quality of Facility

Sure, fitness isn't exactly a mess-free venture — but having a clean, spacious area to exercise in is incredibly important. After all, who wants to fight dust bunnies, mold, or grime when they're trying to build their speed and endurance?

Before you join, gyms will typically offer a tour, giving you the chance to scope out the scene and take note of the conditions and how comfortable you feel. Check to see if the gym offers high-quality equipment in (good) working order. Are there plenty of televisions available to entertain you during your workout? What is the parking situation like? If you plan on driving to the gym, you don't want to waste time fighting for a spot. Take advantage of the opportunity to tour the facility; it can help you make your final decision.

6. The Overall Value

Remember, not every $10/month gym is created equal. Think about the value you're getting, and at what cost. Does the staff put care and effort into developing a community, creating a clean and safe space, and providing a plethora of options and amenities? You can still enjoy quality equipment, a spacious environment, and unbeatable perks without paying an arm and a leg.

The bottom line? When figuring out how to find a gym, it is most important that you feel right at home — and ready to work out. As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.