Selecting a Facility

Is it better to exercise at home or at a gym? While working out at home is cheaper, it really depends on your personal needs and preferences where you work out. If you are self-motivated and prefer the solitude of exercising solo, workout at home. If not, here’s what to look for when joining a gym for aerobic activity.

  • Where is the facility located? Research shows that people are most likely to stick with an exercise program when the gym is located close to either home or work.
  • Does the facility have the type of aerobic equipment that you want to use and is it well maintained? Be sure that there are a variety of machines. Beware of “out of order” signs, particularly those that linger for over 24 hours. Give the equipment a test drive to ensure it operates smoothly and quietly. Also, is it well maintained and is it in good working order?
  • Are there signs or diagrams near each piece of aerobic equipment explaining how to use it? If an instructor is not available to assist you, signs can help you use it on your own.
  • Do not be discouraged if at first you can exercise for only a few short minutes on some aerobic machines. It takes time for your body to adapt to each new piece of equipment, particularly if you are a beginner. Pace yourself by starting off slowly and gradually increasing the exercise time.
  • Do the aerobic equipment and/or types of aerobic classes available interest you? If the activities offered are cycling, rowing and swimming but you want to play racquet sports and run on an indoor track, look for a facility that offers more variety.
  • If you are interested in aerobic classes, is the floor a sprung wood floor, which lessens impact to the joints?
  • Are there a variety of classes offered throughout the day? Does the schedule offer separate classes for beginners through to advanced participants? As you become more experienced and your work and family schedules change these factors will become important in helping you to continue with your exercise program.
  • Is there a variety of equipment available for use in classes? A wide variety of classes, including those using equipment, will help to keep you motivated and provide new training goals.
  • Is the facility clean and generally well maintained? You’re much more likely to return on a regular basis if the showers are clean and the environment is tidy and well organized. Most facilities require members to wipe down equipment with a towel after use.
  • Is the air temperature cool and is there good air circulation? Air conditioning is an important component in the prevention of dehydration and overheating. Also the smell of perspiration in the air may discourage you from returning regularly.
  • Before you begin exercising, are you required to complete a health screening form or fitness assessment? Both of these procedures alert staff members to any illnesses or limitations you may have and will help them to evaluate your capabilities.
  • What is the payment plan? Beware of facilities charging high initiation fees and demanding long term memberships. Many clubs allow members to pay on a weekly or monthly basis and that’s your best bet.
  • How busy is the facility? Visit during the times when you plan to exercise. Some gyms are empty at certain hours and overflowing with members at others. Is the gym able to accommodate a large number of members during peak periods? If the place is a zoo, so much for a stress-busting workout.
  • What additional services are available? Many facilities offer massage, restaurants and social clubs. Though you may not be interested in these things now, one day you may be.
  • Are you comfortable with the facility’s clientele? Don’t be scared off by the size or fitness level of the instructors or members. There are usually people of all levels of experience at every gym. Besides, you can learn a lot from working out around more experienced exercisers. On the other hand, you may feel more comfortable exercising in a gym that caters to people of your own sex or age range.
  • Is there an instructor available to design a personal program for you based on your capabilities? If you are new to exercise or haven’t exercised regularly in the past, it is very important to have a professional advise you on what type of exercises are best for you.
  • Do the instructors seem genuinely interested in the members or are they more focused on sales? Ask other members how happy they are with the customer service the gym provides. The locker room is a good place to find out what members really think.
  • Does the facility hire qualified, certified instructors? To create a safe and effective program; an instructor needs a good background in exercise design and technique. Find out which qualifications are acceptable in your area and then ask the instructors about their education.
  • If you have young children, are there babysitting services with qualified staff, a safe environment and a convenient schedule?

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