So you’re ready to start looking for the nearest gym. Whether you’ve decided to move from a home gym to a physical location outside of the basement, you’re just starting to workout again or you have moved to a different city entirely, finding the right gym isn’t as simple as pulling up Google Maps and heading out to the nearest destination.
Sure, checking out what’s around you online is one step, but you need to find somewhere that fits your specific needs.
That’s why we’re here to help you with finding the best gym that’s also closest to you.
Best Ways To Find The Nearest Gym…
What’s Important To You?
First of all, you need to pick out a gym like you would a new place to live. Create a checklist of important features.
Are you going there to simply hit the weights?
Perhaps you want to switch up your cardio options?
Are you more of a Crossfit kind of person, so you like the less orthodox methods of working out?
There are so many questions you need to ask yourself. Let’s start out with a few basic questions right here.
What kind of weights is one of the most important questions to answer?
We’ve found some of the more popular chain gyms don’t actually offer free weights. For us, that’s a problem. Sure, having different machines for weight lifting can help simplify the lift. It acts as a spotter when you don’t have one and you’re less likely to injure yourself on a machine than with free weights (although if you’ve spent any time on YouTube, you’ve probably caught your share of people acting a fool in gyms and injuring themselves in the most asinine ways possible). We recommend looking for a gym with free weights (and plenty of them). But if weight lifting isn’t your thing and cardio is more important to you, at least find a spot that has machines as a possible option.
This leads ups into the next question to ask: what kind of cardio options are there?
Do you like running on a treadmill? Perhaps you’d like something with a little less impact, such as an elliptical or a bicycle. Cardio equipment is pretty popular in the gym chains and these seem to fill up quickly, but looking for a variety of offerings is always a perk.
Another question to consider is are classes or personal training services offered?
Classes can be a great way to break from of the regular cardio machines. Whether it’s a Zumba class, pilates or yoga, classes and classroom space is great. If you are looking for personal trainers, don’t just settle on this question.
Have a followup question of who are the personal trainers and what are their credentials?
You can’t just be some guy with big biceps and decide to train people. Certifications are a must. A physical therapy degree is another perk. If they don’t have credentials, skip the personal trainers.
These are just a handful of questions to ask as you build your checklist. You’ll likely have others along the way. Just make sure you create a checklist. This will help prevent you from settling on a gym that doesn’t fit your needs.
Gym Vs. Fitness Center
Think about what you want from a gym?
Do you just want weights and cardio?
Or do you want more recreational opportunities, like a swimming pool, jogging track, tennis courts and other workout options?
Something like a YMCA likely will cost more per month, but if you want options and want to be able to go from lifting weights to shooting hoops in the same afternoon, it may be well worth your investment.
Look Up What’s Around
Now that you have a general idea as to the kind of facility you’re interested in, head on over to Google and find out what’s in the area. Take a note of the different options. Visit the gym websites to get an idea of membership fees and also look at pictures. If the gym doesn’t look like much in pictures (especially those posted to the gym’s own website), it will likely look even worse when you visit. Make sure to look up user reviews on Yelp as well. You can gather a better idea as to what the gyms offer if one is clean or not and what kind of services each offer.
Visit Different Locations…And Don’t Sign Anything
When you stop by a gym, the staff members will try to pressure you into signing up for a membership. Don’t sign any paperwork at all. Just say you’re looking at different gyms in the area and trying to decide on what works best for you. If you tell them you’re shopping around they may try to sweeten the deal for you (sometimes playing hard to get can pay off). If someone does offer you a better deal, make sure you have it in writing.
During your visit, take notice of a few things. Look at the cardio equipment.
Is it completely full?
Do you really want to spend your time at the gym, waiting for a stair stepper?
Now, look at the machines. Is the equipment new or is it dated?
Also, ask about how much a membership actually costs.
If you’ve ever signed up for a gym membership before, you probably well aware of the ol’ switcheroo. This is where they quote you for a $10 membership, but then it ends up costing you $50 a month. They will tell you it’s because you get unlimited tanning or sauna services or something.
Tanning is up to you, but do you really want to pay such a substantial amount for the gym?
So ask plenty of questions and make sure to take a tour.
If you don’t like the vibe, cross the gym off of your list.
One last thing. If the gym does offer classes, ask if the classes are built into the membership fee, or if you have to pay for the classes. That can quickly add up if you have to pay for classes out of pocket.
Check Those Hours
Now that you’ve identified a few different gyms that might fit your particular workout needs, make sure to check the hours of operation. Some gyms, especially chains, like to market the 24-hour option.
However, not all locations within a given chain may be open for the full day. In smaller regions where the population is not as great, the gym may not remain open 24 hours a day, which is a bit of a bummer if you’re someone who wakes up extremely early or who has odd hours and needs to hit the gym after midnight.
You’ve made it this far and everything else has checked out so far.
However, don’t just sign up yet.
After all, if you do you may end up being locked into a year membership (and breaking those year gym memberships can be extremely difficult. If you’ve ever tried to break a gym membership you know just how much of a pain it can be).
Ask for a temporary membership.
These locations will offer usually a week of free workouts, although some might offer more or just a single day. Either way, really get a good workout in. If you’re a normal gym goer, put it through your regular routine.
Can it handle it?
Does it have all the real-time equipment you need to get a great workout?
How are the people around you?
Sure, you can’t base your entire gym experience by whether or not people are hassling you (or not wiping down their equipment), but if you come in multiple times during your trial period and find this happens every time, then you might have a bit more of a problem.
After the trial period, head out to the next gym and do the same thing. Make sure to write down what you like and what you don’t like. After all, if you have four gyms you’re testing out and you one a week for a month, you may forget the high points and low points of the gym. Doing this not only helps you land a free month at the gym, but you’ll know whether or not the UFC Gym is right for you, or if you want to go with a local gym instead.
Already a Member Of a Gym
So what should you do if you’re already a member of a current national gym?
The benefit of this is you normally have access to all of the national gyms around the country. This does simplify things a bit, as long as there is a gym from the chain within the area.
But how are you suppose to go about seeing if there is part of the chain in the area?
There are a few different options available for that.
For starters, open up your gym’s app on your smartphone. Most larger gyms do not have you set up your membership on your phone. This makes it far easier to go from one gym to the next. It also helps ensure you don’t forget any membership identification or tags along the way.
We’ve all probably been there where we heat out to the gym, only to realize we don’t have our keyring or tag or something that grants us entrance, so having a mobile application is great. On the app, there will be a location finder. Just pull this up and allow it to work off of your GPS. From there you’ll find the closest gym to you. Chains like Anytime Fitness, LA Fitness, and others have this kind of a feature.
If you don’t have this kind of a feature on the app, the gym doesn’t use an app or you don’t have your phone around, you can always turn to the Internet on a computer and make the necessary search.
The computer offers an easy option for locating nearby gyms you are a member of. Chains like 24 Hour Fitness and Golds Gym provide assistance features online for tracking down the nearest gym. When the website loads each will likely ask if it can ask to use your current location. This isn’t always that accurate (especially if you’re traveling with a laptop that has a set IP address), so instead type in the current zip code for where you are. The website will then show you all of the nearest gyms.
The nice aspect of using your computer is it’s easy to navigate, you have a larger screen, and have access to the desktop version of the website. When you find a gym nearby all you need to do is select the location. The website will display important information, ranging from the address to hours of operations. That is great because while some locations are 24 hours for chain gyms, other locations (especially spots in less populated areas) close at different times.
You don’t want to be on vacation, take a Lyft over to the gym and discover it’s closed.
That’s a quick way to rack up your traveling expenses (although Lyft allows you to link airline mile accounts, so at least you’ll gain some miles for the trouble).
There are plenty of gyms around. You shouldn’t have a problem at all finding gyms, regardless of where you live or where you’re visiting.
However, you need to make sure the gym, if you’re looking for a new one, is able to meet your unique needs.
After all, what you’re looking for from a gym is likely going to be different from what the next person is looking for.
Create an in-depth checklist and head on out to the different gyms.
Look everything over, take notes, take tours and ask plenty of questions. From there, make sure to take advantage of the free trial periods at the gym. You’ll then be able to decide which of the gyms is best for you and your needs.