I was recently asked, what I look for in a gym. I get it, there are several options and it can be confusing and overwhelming to the point that it is easier to put on your workout gear and flip through Netflix on your couch. You can totally do it and find a fantastic place you are excited about and love. I have tried several gyms out in my years. Here are my thoughts.
A welcoming place where you feel comfortable. This tip seems obvious; however, I have been at gyms where the staff are not so friendly and sit on their phones, seeming unapproachable, like they would rather be anyplace else. Overall, if the staff are friendly, happy, and busy, that's a sign it's an excellent place to be and work. Staff and members should be kind enough to greet you and say hello.
A serious place about fitness. I only have so much time to get a workout in, and I want the most of that time. For me, I'm not too fond of a chatty gym. I want it to be a friendly environment where all fitness levels are supported and encouraged, but it is where you work out. We've all seen people dressed in their workout gear, but instead of breaking a sweat, they chat the entire time, or worst yet, they are on the phone. If you want to join a gym to socialize, that may be your scene, but I need a workout. It's my sanity in life.
It must be clean and well kept. I quit a gym where the equipment was constantly in need of repair with no rush to fix it, and it just had a level of grime throughout the entire building. Gyms have the most germs of any place! Especially now that Covid has hit, this point is even more vital. I like to foam roll on the floor after my workouts. If pieces of dirt and junk are sticking to me, it's a no.
No sales gimmicks. I already paid a membership fee and any personal training I elected to do. I don't need to be bothered to sign up for extra programs, benefits, snacks or smoothies, etc. This was the gym I belonged to in my college years. I had to say no to multiple sales tactics every time I went. My workouts are my sanity. They calm and center me for the rest of what I deal with in life. I can't focus on getting the most from my hour's workout if someone constantly invades my space to sell to me.
There are many other things to consider when joining a gym, such as proximity to your community/home/work and budget. I love being part of a gym community. I recommend exploring a few gyms and asking for a free pass for a couple of workout sessions so you can get a sense of whether it's the right place for you. If they refuse to let you try it before committing to a membership, I consider that a red flag. One last tip, the best gyms I've been to also don't require a contract. They have enough memberships to sustain them without trapping you into a commitment.