• A Man's Guide To Choosing A Gym

    Attachment 78At some point in life, every man looks in the mirror one day, sees he is not as fit as he used to be, and decides he is going to join a local gym and beef up. Hopefully, that day of revelation will occur sooner than later, because the older you get, the harder it is to whip your body into shape. Another reason to hit the gym early in life is quality of life. You do not want to be worn out and out-of-shape for a few decades and decide to join a gym and get fit when you are 70 years old! I want to encourage all of our younger readers to not waste your youth and get started early so you can enjoy a healthy life for years to come.

    Once you have decided that you are going to join a gym, then the first step will be to find the right one for you. Let me first say, that this is probably one of those areas where you do not want to fall into the "skinflint" trap. Don't be a cheapskate when you are choosing a gym. "You get what you pay for" often applies when joining a health club. So, do not sell your body short by going with the cheapest fitness club in your area, unless the cheapest facility actually meets your requirements 100%. Also, when you are paying a little bit more for something, that will often motivate you to get your money's worth by showing up and working out more often! I pay $75 a month for my gym membership, and I can tell you that motivates me to be there 6 days a week for several hours a day. The club I go to is top-of-the-line. It has free coffee, tea, fruit drinks, a personal locker for my shoes and toiletries, free movie rentals, free internet, and a huge selection of magazines and daily newspapers to read in the lounge. It has every cardio machine and weight selection I could ever want, a variety of cardio classes going on all day, and wonderful steam and sauna rooms.

    Besides the price of a gym, you need to look at the hours of operation and the location of the gym. I would recommend a fitness center that is open 24 hours and located conveniently close to your home. That way, you can never make the excuse that you do not feel like driving because it is too far away, or that you won't be able to fit in a workout before they close or before work, because the hours are not available. Being open 24 hours will allow you to experiment with times to see when your body allows for the best workout. It will also let you choose to go when the gym is empty or crowded, depending on your social preference. For me, I prefer working out when nobody is there, so it feels like it is my personal gym. Being close can also allow for split workouts where you go to the gym twice a day, if you have time for that. If it is close, it can also give you an option for an extra workout by allowing you to walk, jog or cycle to the gym, rather than drive.

    The next thing you need to look at is equipment, and more equipment means a better workout for you. Working out can get boring, and, if you have a wide variety of equipment, you can switch up your routine often. A gym should have several different cardiovascular machines on the premises. For me, a rowing machine, elliptical machine, a treadmill, a stationary bike, a climbing machine, a stair machine, a heavy bag and a speed bag are a must. For weight training, you need to be sure that they have machines for each body part, and dumbbells and barbells in their free-weight section. Another option to combat boredom would be to see if they have kettlebells that you can train with when you get bored with machines and free weights. The gym you choose needs to have duplicate machines so you are never waiting very long to use one. A pool, an indoor running track, basketball courts, racquetball courts, and tennis courts are all a nice addition if you are looking for more physical activities. Steam and sauna rooms are amenities that I will not do without, due to the health benefits and the relaxation they provide my tired body after a hard workout. A jacuzzi is something I like, but I can live without, for several personal hygiene reasons.

    A variety of classes are a nice feature to contemplate when you are evaluating a gym. Some fun classes are body combat, Zumba, spin, step, yoga and others. Oftentimes, a health club will make you pay extra for these, so you may want to weigh the costs. Other times, classes are included in an inclusive monthly fee, which I prefer. You will want to look at class times as well, to see if they fit your schedule. Make sure you check on the qualifications of the class trainers so you can be sure they know what they are doing.

    The layout and feel of the gym is very important. I do not know how to stress that any harder, except to say that a gym with an uninviting and poor environment will be detrimental to your fitness goals. There needs to be adequate lighting, good music, lots of mirrors and, most of all, it needs to be clean and organized. There should be plenty of equipment cleaning stations around the gym for members to use. You need to look closely to see if the management keeps the equipment in top repair, as well as to the club's hygiene practices. Be sure that there are plenty of secure lockers and clean showers, sinks and toilets. I went to one gym for a day and there were only two showers, which led to a line of men waiting to use them. I never would consider a health club with those conditions.

    The "no grunt policy"! I am finding some gyms out there that have a "no grunt policy", forbidding men from grunting and groaning when lifting weights. I know that their reasoning is that they do not want other members to feel intimidated by heavy lifters, but I am not buying into that. It is just another way to emasculate men in a place where a man should be 100% MAN!. Maybe a man should even be 150% all MAN when he is at the gym! Another thing to look out for is a gym not having heavy dumbbells. Oftentimes, a gym will have only 50 or 60 pounds as the heaviest dumbbell on the rack. I am not trying to brag, but when I do my dumbbell presses, my four sets start with 80 pounds on the 1st set, and I increase by 10 until I am pressing 110 pounds on set 4. Sixty-pound dumbbells just won't cut the mustard for me. You may think that you can only lift 60-pound dumbbells and that you will be fine with that as the heaviest weight, but it is not true. With time, your strength will increase dramatically, and you do not want to be limited with light weights.

    Other criteria to contemplate when choosing a gym:

    • Is the gym a well-established business in your city?
    • Is the staff friendly, educated and helpful?
    • Did you find hidden fees and costs that were not advertised with the original price?
    • Can your membership be put on hold if you need to take time off?
    • What is the cancellation fee if there is a contract?
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