Joining a gym for the first time can be a little nerve wrecking… your intentions are in the right place, you want to go to the gym, work out and get fit but there are is a lot of equipment you’ve never seen before and a lot of people (that you feel like are staring at you and judging you!)..
These are all the things I once thought as well…. I’ve always had the intention of joining a gym and getting fit but, to be honest it took a couple of goes. I joined up to Fitness First a few years ago and went a few times and then cancelled my membership (at a hefty cost!). Why did I cancel it, because I had no motivation and no support from the gym.
When I joined up I was never told of any support program to help newbies get acquainted with the gym or suggestions to see a personal trainer to help familiarize myself with the equipment and potentially set up a program.
So ‘Ill do my best to provide you with some advice on what you should consider when you want to join a gym. It’s not as scary as you think… I promise!
Let’s face it, most gyms generally have the same facilities; cardio, weights and some have classes or a pool. What’s important to you? Do you want to be able to do classes every week, or it is something that you might just want to do now and then? Personally I thought I’d do classes all the time – guess what, I haven’t been to one class!
There are 2 types of gyms these days; fully staffed gyms and 24 hour gyms.
The fully staffed gyms are fitness first, Goodlife, Fernwood etc (Australian gyms), these gyms as the name suggests are fully staffed and have certain operating times.
They typically have full facilities, such as locker rooms (same gender), communal (same gender) showers, sauna/steam room, cardio equipment, weights room and classes.
The 24 hour gyms are fantastic if you work weird hours or want to be able to work out on your own time. Their prices are usually lower as they only have a small amount of staff there during certain periods, which helps to keep their running cost down.
Safety might be a bit of a concern…. However these gyms are constantly monitored for security and emergencies, they are also fitted with duress/emergency buttons that are designed for a prompt response in the case of any emergency.
Some 24 hour gyms have private bathroom facilities however keep in mind, these are limited and may be occupied when you need to use them. You are also able to access any clubs of that brand for no extra cost (depending on the gym).
The location of the gym will go hand in hand with your level motivation. If you choose a gym that you have to go out of your way to get to, chances are, you aren’t going to bother going because you’ll make up the excuse that it’s too far away or it will take too long to get there and come home. Personally, my gym is on my way to work, in the middle of the city, in fact my bus stops right outside of it (super handy!). It means I only have to worry about dragging myself out of bed at 5am to get on the bus and to the gym, and then off to work. (I have a few lazy days where I’ll go to the gym in the evening – instantly regretting this as it’s so busy!). However this doesn’t always work as for example, on the weekends or when I take a week off work, I don’t need to go into the city so I don’t go to the gym (I pay for it the next week!).
The almighty gym fees:
Gyms can be expensive considering all the equipment is there to use and there is minimal maintenance required. Look at the different “plans on offer. For example Goodlife Gyms offer 3 membership plans.
- One club only membership on a 12 month contract
- National/one club option available on a flexible month to month
- National/one club option available on a fixed 12 month contract
Which membership is going to be best for you? Personally I went for the multi club access on a 12 month contract, another incentive to actually going to the gym, I’m paying for it, do I want to waste my hard earned money. Also something to keep in mind is the 24/7 gyms usually just have the 1 membership plan which are usually month to month as they boast no locked in contracts.
Note: If you choose to go with Goodlife (or similar) and you are offered a “PT Kick starter” program, get more information on this. I was offered this as I was advised it was 4 PT sessions for $49 AUD (approx.) however I didn’t actually do any training in any of these sessions, they were all about my body, movement and nutrition. (needless to say I felt a little deceived).
Request a tour of the gym
Before committing to any contracts, I would highly recommend you take a tour of the gym, take a look at the facilities: do they look well maintained? Is the gym clean? Also make sure to ask to look at the locker rooms and showers and again do they look well maintained? Are they clean?
Questions to ask the gym staff before signing a contract:
- If you want to go on a holiday will they put your membership on hold? If so, for how long? And what fees (if any) are included?
- What are the fees if you cancel your membership – this will also depend if you choose a monthly membership or contract.
- How much as a 30min and 1 hour personal training session? (I would recommend taking a few sessions (or at least 1) to become familiar with the gym and some of the equipment and maybe even set up a program for you – otherwise you can also subtly watch others or if you would prefer, you can have a look on Youtube.
- Let the staff know that this is your first time at the gym and ask them is they offer any programs or support that can be offered to you, to help get you started.
- What is the best time to come to the gym? (You may want to avoid times after work as this is usually peak hour – personally I find 6-7am to be perfect, it’s a little busy but not as bad as the evening).
- Ask for a class timetable as the classes may not suit your timetable.
A few things to ask yourself:
- Do you want to have access to classes?
- Do they have showers, hair straighteners or hair dryers (yes very girlie!) to help get ready before work, is there enough bench space near the mirrors? (these areas can get very crowded in the mornings and evenings)
- Do you need to have a multi club access membership? (where you can go to different clubs on the one membership – this usually costs extra) or are you happy to continue to use the same gym, what happens if you move houses or jobs?
I am currently working on articles about how best to keep yourself motivated, some of the best programs online and some nutrition tips (keep in mind I am not a professional – this is all based on my personal experience and what works best for me!).