Looking for a new gym? Feeling overwhelmed with all the options?
Here’s our guide to finding the one that’s right for you…
More people join gyms in January than in any other month (no surprises there).
But not everyone will stick around.
The reality is most people have no idea what to look for when finding a gym. That’s why many people spend years hopping around from one gym to the next, only to find that 6 months later they’ve got a direct debit each month for something that barely gets used.
With fitness becoming more and more mainstream, new gyms are opening all the time so there’s plenty to chose from. But knowing what to look for will be the difference between long-term membership, health and results or spending money on something you don’t enjoy or use.
Finding the Right Gym for You
1. Atmosphere is everything
Before you worry about whether you’ll be deadlifting or cycling, doing HIIT workouts or Pilates, it’s vital that the environment you train in is one that makes you feel good.
When you walk in to the gym it should be welcoming, not intimidating. If the gym is kitted out with the latest equipment and fancy changing rooms but you feel anxious and out of place then it’s probably not the right space for you.
This is the most important factor, as everything else hinges on this. If you like the gym and feel comfortable you’re more likely to enjoy training there. Good experiences will turn into consistency. Consistency will turn in to adherence, and so you’ll probably stay there longer, and see results.
People have a huge influence on atmosphere. If you get a friendly first impression, you will more likely feel part of their tribe and happier. Get a good first impression and you’re on the right lines.
2. Training aligned to your goals
Knowing what you’re looking for might be harder if you’re a beginner and have never stepped foot in a gym before. But the key factor here is making sure you’re in the right place to get the results that you want.
Your goals could range from being strength based, to cardio or aesthetic. And while a gym might be able to help you reach a multitude of goals under the same roof – it’s important to make sure you’re at least in a place where you can reach your targets.
For example, you’ve decided you want to get stronger. For this to be achieved you’ll need to focus on resistance training (either with weights or bodyweight). So a gym that only offers cardio options is probably not the right place for you. Go somewhere that you can actually get strong.
Similarly, if you have body transformation goals and want to lose fat, perhaps a strongman gym is not the best place for you. In this case you’ll need to go somewhere that offers nutritional advice to help you get there.
Generally, when you look around the gym, they should be doing the training that you can see yourself doing and members in there should feel relatable.
3. Experts who know their stuff
Unfortunately, being a personal trainer doesn’t automatically mean you are a good trainer with the relevant experience to serve the people you’re coaching. The industry isn’t vetted as well as it should be so sometimes you can find yourself in a position where the coaching is sub standard and you don’t see results… and in the worst case scenario you end up injured.
So how can you be sure that the trainers are decent?
That can be a difficult one. One of the best ways to assess this is through recommendations. Do you know someone who has training experience? They might have a gym that they use and trust, or know of the best places where you can achieve results.
Google reviews are not a bad place to start if you’re still unsure. Check their feedback from customers and head down to the gym to check it out in person. Some places offer a trial – like we offer a no obligation 30-day trial at W10 - so you can see if W10 is the right Gym for you. This can be a great way to see if you buy in to the training that the gym is offering.
4. Somewhere you can be held accountable
We’ve all been there before – signing up to a gym with all the best intentions, training 5 times a week for the first month and before you know it you’re 3 months in and your membership just becomes a direct debit with zero usage.
That’s because there’s no responsibility put on you to make sure you keep coming back. And often these gyms have such a large membership base that you’re just a number in the system.
If you struggle with consistency and turning up on a regular basis, it’s worth going somewhere smaller, where you are recognised as an individual. You’ll be kept accountable by trainers and other members. If you need to book an appointment with a trainer to train you’ll be much more likely to turn up, so consider that too.
5. Progressive programme
If you’re a beginner then just turning up to sessions and learning how to execute new movements safely and correctly will be enough to start with. Once you’ve nailed the exercises, you’ll then be able to load them with weight or increased difficulty – this is how you progress in the gym (progressive overload).
But in order for you to continually develop, the programme you’re on needs to be just that: progressive. If you attend the same class week in week out and the instructors are constantly changing and doing their own thing, then there’s no measurement tool for you to get better and track progress.
Gyms who offer thought out, progressive programmes will enable you to get better and see results.
You should track your own progress, whether that’s weights in the gym, new skills learnt, or improvements to your body shape. All of these changes will boost motivation and provide the reason to keep coming back for more.
Essentially you want a space that you feel at home in, and one that’s going to keep you coming back on a regular basis. Gyms with knowledgeable trainers are going to help you make progress in a safe way.
Once you have found these things you’ll feel part of a community – probably the best indicator for a long-term gym relationship.