How to Choose a Fitness Center or Gym

The terms fitness center and gym are used interchangeable, with the former sounding slightly more female-friendly and offering patrons more options. But the name on the door means nothing, it’s what’s on the other side of the door that counts. Use these tips to help you choose a facility that is best suited to meet your health and well-being needs.


Just like real estate, it’s location, location, location. If the fitness center is near your home or workplace, then you will be more apt to stick with your workout routine. If the facility is inconveniently located you will find excuses not to go and soon loose interest.

Hours of Operation

After a convenient location comes hours of operation which must fall within a time frame that you can go to the fitness center. Visit the facility during the time you plan to go to discover how crowded the place is. If you plan to workout during your lunch hour, but the machines are full and the wait time is usually 30-45 minutes, the place is not going to work for you.


Visit the gyms in your area and look at the quality of each facility. The interior and exterior should be clean and well maintained, so should the equipment. Try out some of the equipment while on the visits to make sure it is in good working order. Check out the locker rooms and bathrooms to gauge the cleanliness and safety of the gym.


Some people only use a couple pieces of equipment for their workouts while others want a wide variety of equipment to use during their exercise time. Make sure the pieces you want and need are available at the fitness center and are in good working order.


Do you want to go it alone or do you want a personal trainer or exercise classes like yoga or zumba? Find out what the fitness center offers before signing on the dotted line. Nutrition experts as well as others connected to the health and fitness field are often on the payroll of a gym or fitness center, having access to their expertise may make paying a higher monthly fee worth the cost.

Price and Contracts

If you really just want to walk on the treadmill, lift weights and an aerobics class, paying for the use of a racquetball court, sauna, swimming pool, etc., is a waste of money. Look for a no-frills gym at a cheaper price.

Before signing the contract, read it carefully and ask for a free trial period. Many fitness centers and gyms will accommodate that request because they want your membership. When you are ready to sign a contract, ask for a month-to-month contract instead of a one or two year contract. Also inquire about payment options and family discounts, and get everything in writing.