Making the commitment to a fitness club can be a daunting proposal. After all, most gyms look pretty good when you’re an outsider, so how can you be sure you’re choosing the right one? According to Fred Kronk, the director of health and fitness at Fitness Formula in Chicago, there are 10 questions you should ask when you’re considering signing up:
1. Does the club offer state-of-the-art and name brand equipment? Look for strength-training equipment brands, such as Cybex, Hammer Strength or Paramount, and cardiovascular machines from Technogym, Vectra, Trotter, Precor and Reebok
2. Does the health club offer club offer a free trial? This will give you a chance to try out the facilities before committing to a long-term contract.
3. Do the industry’s leading associations accredit the facility? Ask if the club is a member of IHRSA: It’s the most respected association in the industry and its member clubs must uphold strict standards in member services and programs.
4. What types of fitness classes and programs does the club offer? Look into the variety of classes and programs offered and ask if they’re included in the club’s monthly membership dues.
5. Does your workout schedule coincide with the club’s hours? Visit the club a few times during the hours you intend to use it and see how busy the club is. Keep a sharp eye out for the availability of equipment you plan to use
6. Is the fitness staff easily accessible, and what type of support do they offer? Did you know that between 25 to 50 percent of people who begin fitness programs drop out, due to lack of support from the fitness staff? Find a club where trainers will approach members who look like they may need help using the machines or perfecting their form.
7. Does the club maintain good customer service policies? Staff members should have answers to your inquiries readily available and be able to handle special requests, such as guest passes, placing a membership on hold during an illness or vacation and usage of rooms in the club for gatherings or parties.
8. What are the education backgrounds and certifications of the fitness staff? Trainers should be certified with one of the following: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and/or American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Personal trainers/fitness specialists should have an educational background in exercise science, kinesiology, cardiac rehabilitation, biomechanics and adult physical education.
9. Will the club be able to help you achieve your specific fitness goals and objectives? The gym should offer programs that specifically address your individual needs. For example, if your goal is to lose or gain weight, you should choose a club that offers weight-management sessions.
10. Does the club’s overall environment appeal to you? Clubs that provide an atmosphere where you can meet new friends, learn about wellness and experience new trends in health and fitness will keep you coming back.