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10 Things to Check for When Looking for a New Gym

Selecting a gym can be a difficult task-you want it to feel like a home away from home, and you want to feel inspired to go there. Aside from avoiding places that attract steroid-using hard-bodies who like to slam soda cans on their foreheads to prove their strength, here are ten things to check for to ensure that you sign a contract for the best possible gym experience.

Visit during peak hours. Make sure the gym is not overly crowded at peak hours. It is extremely frustrating to have to wait for equipment after a long day, or when you are in a rush to get to work. Visit during the time you would normally go to the gym to ensure it’s not a mob scene-you will be glad you did.

Ask about incentives. Be sure to ask if the gym has any current incentives for joining-very often they do, and if they don’t at the moment, some gyms will allow their salespeople to give you one in order to get you to join. Incentives can include things like money off on the up-front fee, free sessions with a trainer, or the first month for free.

Check for a history of cleanliness. Check the reviews online for this gym. You can pick up everything from E. coli to staph infections at your gym, so make sure that its cleanliness procedures are thorough and that its consumer reviews about cleanliness are positive.

They have towel service-and it’s free. Having to bring your own towel to the gym is a drag-it’s one more thing to carry in, and one more thing to wash at the end of the day. The gym who doesn’t provide towels or who charges extra for towels is no gym you want to join. It costs the gym very little for laundry service, and you are already paying a hefty monthly fee-you should get free towels for that.

The gym has lockers that can be locked. You don’t want to have to bring your own padlock to the gym, right? Most of the nicer gyms have lockers that have combination pads or keys on them that you can take with you throughout your workout. It’s worth making sure the gym has some options available to you for locking your locker, as gym theft occurs with regularity, and you don’t want to have to worry about your things (or worse, take them with you to the treadmill!).

They accept online payments. Most of us enjoy the convenience of having the option to pay our bills online. Make sure your gym has this option so that you have the freedom of being able to pay when you want with the card you choose, and not when the gym is ready to charge you.

The classes are free. You are already paying a monthly fee. If the yoga, spin, and other classes offered are not free, don’t join. This should be an all-inclusive membership.

The gym has long hours. Nothing is worse than having a long day at work and knowing that your gym isn’t going to be open for you to go blow off some steam. Make sure your gym is open late so that you at least have the option to go, even if you aren’t able to rally. Some gyms are even open 24/7, like 24 Hour Fitness.

Check for updated equipment. Take a walk-through and make sure the equipment in the gym is up to date and that very little of it looks run down or has maintenance signs on it. A gym can have a high volume of equipment, but if it doesn’t work, what is it good for?

You can break your contract. Some gyms will try to lock you into a year-long contract that is nearly impossible to break. But people move, change jobs, or have other life-altering events that make keeping a year-long contract difficult at times. Try to get a month-to-month contract with your gym so that if anything changes and you need to break it, you don’t lose money.

The bottom line is this-gyms are charging a lot these days in order for you to get your workout in. You want this break in your day to be as positive as possible, especially because you are paying for it, so make sure to get the most out of a gym by finding one that offers as many of the above options as possible.

Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from processing credit cards to health and wellness.

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