Joining a gym always feels like an empowering act, at the time. But if you don't actually make use of your membership, your big wellness plan will turn into a big waste of money.
Gym contracts often aren't all that easy to get out of either, so make sure you know what you're getting into. Remember that "Friends" episode when Chandler tries (unsuccessfully) to quit the gym because it charges him $50 every month, and he hasn't gone in years? It might be one of the most relatable things to ever happen on the show, but that doesn't mean it has to happen to you.
If you're thinking about joining a gym soon, here's how to make sure you'll actually use your membership...
Consider the Costs
A lot of factors go into choosing the right gym, but at the end of the day, you need to first make sure the membership fees are within your budget. Before you begin your search, crunch the numbers to determine just how much you're able to spend on going to the gym. Once you have a budget, you can start looking for options in your area—but only ones that fall within your price range.
Get Real About Location
If you really want to be serious about using your membership regularly, don't just pick the shiniest gym in town. Look for gyms with locations that are close to your day-to-day activities, and avoid the ones that aren't. Knowing that your gym is a convenient stop on your way home from the office will make you much more likely to get a workout in, but you'll probably skip visits if your gym is in the opposite direction of everything else on your schedule.
Plan Out Your Routine
You can't choose a gym without knowing what you're looking for in terms of space and equipment, so make sure you've got your routine down before you even step foot in a new facility. Picture your perfect workout—do you see a simple treadmill or stationary bike and free weights, or are there other machines you need? Make a list of the things you're looking for, and make sure you choose a gym that has all or most of the equipment you need. Also, consider what time of day you'll be using the gym. If you're planning to go during peak times, you're better off choosing a bigger gym with more machines in case it gets crowded, otherwise you'll be waiting a while.
Take a Thorough Tour
Once you know what you're looking for, tour gyms that fit your criteria, and really pay attention to your surroundings while you're there. Take note of how many machines there are, how crowded or spacious it feels, and what the atmosphere is like. It's important that your gym feels like a welcoming, user-friendly safe space, otherwise you won't feel entirely comfortable working out there. Ask to see the locker room, too—make sure it's clean enough for you. If it's not, you won't want to change or shower there, which could lead to you skipping visits altogether.
Ask About Perks
Some gyms, especially chains, offer perks like discounts on fitness apparel or sports drinks, so it's definitely worth asking about when you visit. Also, check with your employer to see if they offer any employee discounts for certain gyms. If so, those perks can help you decide between gyms if you're having trouble choosing between a few options. If not, go with your gut and choose the gym that checks off the most must-haves from your list.