1 MAKE SURE THE LOCATION IS CONVENIENT. Ideally, your gym should be on the route between your home and your job so you see it every day--and have no excuse for not stopping.
2 CHECK OUT THE GYM DURING THE HOURS YOU PLAN TO WORKOUT (and not some afternoon you take off from the office). That way, you'll know exactly the kind of crowd to expect when you start going. Also, scope out the parking lot. How easily are you able to get a space?
3 VISIT THE GYM DURING ITS PEAK HOURS if you're looking fox a trainer. If you can find one who's available, you know exactly whom not to hire--he's probably no good.
4 MAKE SURE THE GYM HAS WHAT YOU NEED. A good gym should have the following: dumbbells that increase by small increments-particularly ranging from five to 50 pounds a set of two dumbbells for every weight up to 50 pounds at least one set of every weight from 55 to 100 pounds at least one squat rack for every 5,000 square feet
5 LOOK UNDER THE CARDIO EQUIPMENT. If you see dust (or worse) under the treadmills, stationary bikes, or elliptical machines, the gym's equipment isn't well maintained.
6 INSPECT THE CLIENTELE. IS the gym crowd mainly young or old, yuppie or hardcore? More important, how do you fit into the mix?
7 LOOK IN THE SHOWER AND THE LOCKER ROOM and ask yourself, Is this a place I want to be naked in?
8 ASK FOR REFERENCES. Talk to the gym's patrons and ask them what they dislike most about the place. If you find they love the wide selection of free weights but complain that the locker rooms are always filthy, you might decide it's worth joining (if you don't mind showering at home).
9 EVALUATE YOUR CONTRACT. Most reputable gyms use closed-ended contracts (when your membership expires, your payments end). Shady gyms tend to offer open-ended deals (even when your membership expires, you continue to be charged until you tell them to stop). It's legit, but sneaky--they hope you won't notice.
10 GET A FREE SAMPLE. A gym should offer some form of free evaluation, introductory workout, or complimentary session before you join. What you notice during a workout may not have even crossed your radar during your first visit.
Alwyn Cosgrove is the co-owner of Results-Fitness in Santa Clarita, Calif.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Weider Publications
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