So you’ve finally mustered up the motivation to kick start your fitness regime. You’ve cleared the kitchen cupboards of all the naughties, you’ve got new trainers and a new sports bottle and you are all set for a brand new you. The only thing left to do now is to choose where to train, I mean that’s the easy part right?… well not necessarily.

Gyms are popping up as frequently as express supermarkets, which in many ways is brilliant, the more gym facilities there are, the more choice you have. Which is great if you know what to look out for. So before you sign up to the cheapest gym in your area, or the latest all singing all dancing zone, consider these options before signing on the dotted line.

1 – Decide on your budget before visiting any gym

Realistically what is the absolute maximum you are prepared to pay per month for a membership? Knowing how much you are prepared to pay and investigating online what gyms in your area offer what rates will stop you short listing and then spending time visiting gyms that are out of your budget. You don’t go to a Porsche garage if you can’t afford a single car in there, and gym shopping is exactly the same.

2 – Decide on distance

Be considerate that a 5 minute car journey to a gym on a weekend could be a 45 minute journey during rush hour in the week in certain areas. Will you be using the gym at certain times and will traffic effect this? Would you prefer to walk to the gym? Do you travel for work around the country and need to have access to a gym whilst away? Some chain gyms offer multi gym use.

3 – Visit the gym at the time you would be wanting to train 

Once you have short listed the gym’s in your area and decided to visit them, make sure you visit at the time you would be hoping to train. A few reasons we recommend doing this.

You can firstly see (if driving) if you can actually park or if you need to pay for parking. Many gyms have what seems like a huge car park at 2pm, can be full to the brim at 5:45pm. If you can’t park on a regular basis will this frustrate you?

Once inside the gym it gives you an idea of how busy/or empty the gym will be at the time you want to train and the sort of people training. If it’s too busy it may be intimidating or frustrating for you, alternatively if it’s too quiet maybe it won’t give you that ‘buzz feel’.

Either way you will know if it’s up your street or not.

Look at ALL areas of the gym, even facilities you may not at this time think you will use, as you never know moving forward. This means checking out the pool, spa, class rooms, spin studios, tennis courts etc etc. If it’s a facility in the gym check it out.

4 – Find out opening hours

Not all gyms have the same opening hours, and some vary day on day so check this out before committing.

5 – Are there any members benefits? 

More often than not gyms are affiliated with partners in the area such as restaurants, sports shops etc. These can give you added discount which make your membership more valuable to you.

6 – Try before you buy

If the gym is ticking all the right boxes ask for a free guest pass and have a trial run. This will give you a real feel for the place and the equipment. You never truly notice things until you are using them.

7 – Negotiate

Do you work for a big organisation in the area or are you a student? Often gyms give cooperate discount, student discount, under 25’s discount and more. If you don’t ask you don’t get so explore every option before committing to the usual rate.

Are you prepared to pay upfront? Sometimes gyms offer discounts such as get 2 months free if you pay for a year upfront etc. Be careful though, if you have a track record of falling off the wagon and not going to the gym after a few months be prepared that you may not be able to get a refund.

Be wary of tie in periods. Some gyms offer 12 months contracts on certain deals.

If you invest time in choosing the right gym in the beginning it can save on upheaval or even 6 months of resentment further down the line. If you love being at the gym it will help keep you motivated and attending which in turn will reflect in your results.

I hope this helps you at the start of your journey.