10 questions to ask before joining a gym
|By Dana Dratch Bankrate.com
Resolving to lose some fat and
build muscle in the New Year?
Every year millions of people crowd
into gyms in January armed with willpower and a hefty dose of tenacity
that soon evaporates as quickly as the snow melts into spring mud.
Protect your enthusiasm by joining a gym you'll actually like. To
guarantee that the health club you eventually choose slims your
waistline instead of your wallet, get satisfactory answers to these
|Ask these important questions before joining a gym.
|Is this the right gym for you
1. Is a contract required?
If so, check out the terms carefully, says Joe Decker, co-author
of "The World's Fittest You."
"Do not get roped into an extended contract,"
he says. Decker speaks from experience. The general manager of Level
Fitness, a Washington D.C.-area gym, he still feels the burn
from having three months left on his contract with another facility.
"It's not the money," he says. "It's just the point
that I can't get out of it."
His new club offers only month-to-month memberships.
"You move, you change jobs, you buy a home," he says.
"I don't want people to feel like they're stuck."
2. Does the gym offer a trial membership?
Try the facility before you buy. "I would say two weeks is
fair," says Kathy Kaehler, author of "Real World Fitness
with Kathy Kaehler."
This is the time to test drive the offerings that
really interest you, notes Brooke Siler, author of "The Pilates
Body Kit." Is the pool accessible when you're able to go? Are
the classes that you want to take offered when you're available
to attend? When you try out the gym in real life conditions, what's
it really like?
Siler, an owner and instructor at New York's re:
AB Pilates, recently scoped out a class at another facility.
The experience was a turnoff. The teacher didn't ask if anyone was
dealing with injuries or even if any of the students were first-timers,
"And there were 48 people in the class,"
Siler says. "You couldn't even move."
3. Are staff members degreed or certified?
"Some places will take a warm body and throw them back there,"
says Decker. "There's no set standard."
His advice: Look for certification from the American
College of Sports Medicine or the American
Council on Exercise or degrees in related fields, such as kinesiology,
exercise science or sports medicine. And make sure instructors are
also trained in CPR and first aid, Decker says.
"If you find a place where everyone is certified
or has a degree," he says, "it's probably a pretty decent
4. Has anyone ever been hurt here?
Granted, you might not always get an honest answer. But if you seem
to be getting along well with the staffer who is showing you around,
you ask anyway, says Siler. "Sometimes if you catch them off
guard, they may say 'Oh, I've seen a couple of things,'" she
says. Bottom line: It can't hurt to ask.
5. How old is the equipment?
"Like any other technology, exercise equipment is constantly
changing," says Decker.
If you want a club that's going to be around, look
for one that's making the investment in up-to-date equipment and
"Some places open up, take your money and never
replace equipment," says Decker. "They never put any money
back in the club. You want to go to a place where people really
like it, really care about it."