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Thinking of Joining a Gym? Why Finding the Right One for You Matters

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By American Specialty Health on April 15, 2024
Thinking of Joining a Gym? Why Finding the Right One for You Matters

Gyms and fitness centers come with some big perks that can help you get and stay fit—as long as you find the gym that’s right for you. Here’s how. 


Whether you’re brand new to working out or looking to change up your current fitness routine—joining a gym or fitness center is one option to consider. They do come with a host of advantages, some of which may appeal to you and help you stick with your workout regimen.

Gym perks to keep in mind  

Here are some of the reasons to work out at a gym. Ponder these when making a decision.

Most gyms have an array of top-of-the-line exercise equipment—from strength-training machines and weights to suspension straps, medicine balls, and battle ropes. You’re also likely to find elliptical machines, stationary bikes, rowing machines, stair climbers, and treadmills.

Then there’s the camaraderie and shared excitement of working out with others in a high-energy fitness class. Or you may feel inspired just working out around others dedicated to reaching their fitness goals.

Gyms and fitness centers may also have certified personal trainers who can work with you individually or in small-group training sessions to help you reach your goals. A trainer can end up being a powerful accountability partner, too—another potential source of motivation.

And if you need more incentive to work out, paying the monthly membership or class fees can provide the push you need to get out the door and get to the gym. 
In fact, gym members are more likely than non-members to get the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
How to find a gym you’ll want to go back to again and again 

Once you’ve decided to try a gym or fitness center membership, it helps to have some personalized criteria in mind as you begin your search. Many gyms will allow you to have a day or week pass to try it out. And this is a great way to “test drive” some gyms before you decide which one is best for you.

If you’re new to exercise, don’t feel intimidated by the thought of going to a gym or fitness center for the first time. To help alleviate any qualms you may be having, it’s key to find a place where you’ll feel comfortable and at ease.

Look for a gym with a vibe that feels safe, welcoming, inclusive, supportive, non-competitive, and non-judgmental. This may help motivate you to stick with your workouts. If you’re already fit and active, a gym that caters to intermediate or advanced exercisers may be the better choice for you. 

Click here to learn about 5 common hurdles to exercising and ways to overcome them.  


Decide on the type of facility you prefer 

You’ll find an array of facility types. Figure out which kind you want to tour or check out. For example, do you prefer to work out at a gym where you can go in and use the equipment on your own? Or would you prefer a fitness center that mainly offers different kinds of classes? Do you want a facility with both of these options? Or is a boutique fitness studio that specializes in one kind of training, such as Pilates or Barre, right for you? 


Ask all the right questions when touring different gyms 

Once you’ve narrowed down the type of facility you’d like to join, search for a handful of gyms and/or fitness centers in your area that meet your preferences. Then schedule some tours. Go prepared with a list of questions to ask yourself and the staff. Here are a few topics to help get you started:

  • Your fitness goals. As you compile your list of questions, it will help to think about your goals. Do you want to focus on strength training, cardio, or both? Are you hoping to increase flexibility, agility, balance, or range of motion? Make sure the facility you choose has the equipment, machines, certified personal trainers, and/or fitness classes to help you reach your goals.

  • Fitness classes. Are the fitness classes the kind you’re interested in? Do you want to take strength training and/or cardio classes? Maybe you’d enjoy Zumba®, boot camp, boxing, yoga, or spin classes? If you’re not sure which type of class is right for you, choose a fitness center with a wide variety of classes.

    Also, try to watch one or two fitness classes at each facility you tour. Does the instructor seem engaged and upbeat? Are they offering valuable instructions, feedback, and encouragement? Or does the instructor seem disengaged? Are the class participants having fun and cheering each other on?

  • Equipment. Does the gym have the kind of equipment you want to work out on? Do they offer instructions for how to use the machines, if you’re new to using them?

  • The staff. Are the staff, including any certified personal trainers you talked with, friendly, warm, and welcoming? Did they answer all your questions? Did they ask you about your personal fitness goals?

  • Member demographics. Are the people working out at the gym or in its fitness classes of different ages and fitness levels? Would you be more comfortable working out with people your own age or is a mix of ages and fitness levels OK?

  • Certified personal trainers. If this is a service you’re interested in, ask to meet and talk with one of their trainers.

    When you talk with trainers, ask about their education and certification. You might also want to ask if they have experience working with older adults, clients with injuries or health conditions, or clients who are new to exercise.

  • Fun extras. Is a snack or juice bar on the premises? Is there a gift shop with workout clothes and accessories? Is there a vending machine with bottled water in case you forget to bring your own one day? 


Some practical considerations 

Even if a gym provides everything you dream of and checks all the boxes for you, it may not meet some practical considerations. Here a few to keep in mind:

  • Costs. Is the membership cost right for your budget? Does the facility offer monthly memberships or only annual?  Do they charge additional fees for fitness classes, personal training, towels, lockers, shower use, or parking? These hidden costs can add up. If the facility offers fitness classes, what is the class cancellation policy? Do they offer trial memberships?

  • Location. Is the facility conveniently located? Or is it a long drive? This can impact your motivation to keep up with your workouts, especially if you have a busy schedule to begin with. Ask yourself how far you’re willing to drive.

  • Safety. Is the gym or fitness center in a safe neighborhood? Is well-lit, off-street parking available? If not, how much street parking is available?

  • Hours. Do the hours of operation sync with your schedule and the times of day you like to work out?

  • Cleanliness and other amenities. Is it important to you to have a locker room and showers? Are they and the rest of the facility clean?

  • Temperature. Are you uncomfortable working out in a gym that’s too hot or too chilly? If so, that might impact your motivation to go.

Now that you’re armed with some tips for finding the gym or fitness center that’s a good fit for you, make a plan and get your search underway. You may discover that this new chapter in your get-and-stay fit journey is just what you needed to dial up your motivation and take your fitness to the next level. 



Not a Silver&Fit® member? Learn more about everything the program has to offer, including more helpful healthy living tips like this, here on our website.


This information is not intended to take the place of regular medical care or advice. Please check with your doctor before using this information or beginning any self-care program. Images used for this article do not depict any members of the Silver&Fit Program.



Harvard Health (2019, November 14). Exercising at the gym or at home: Which one is better? https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-at-the-gym-versus-home-which-one-is-better

King, H. A., Gierisch, J. M., Williams, J. W., Jr, & Maciejewski, M. L. (2012, October). Effects of Health Plan-Sponsored Fitness Center Benefits on Physical Activity, Health Outcomes, and Health Care Costs and Utilization: A Systematic Review. Washington, DC: Department of Veterans Affairs (US). 

Schroeder, E. C., Welk, G. J., Franke, W. D., Lee, D.-C. (2017). Associations of health club membership with physical activity and cardiovascular health. PLOS One, 12 (1), e0170471 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170471

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. (2019, October 28). The benefits of going to the gym. https://www.uwhealth.org/news/the-benefits-of-going-to-the-gym

Vogel, A. (2019, January 1). Get the best gym membership deal possible. American Council on Exercise. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/7180/get-the-best-gym-membership-deal-possible/


This article was written by Gail Olson, edited by Kim Reynolds, and clinically reviewed by Jaynie Bjornaraa, PhD, MPH, PT, SCS, ATC, CSCS, on February 12, 2024. 


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