• Fiona Hurle

Finding the right gym for you

So you have decided to put more focus on your health and wellbeing but now the dreaded task of finding a facility that suits you.

Of course they are all going to push that they are the best in the world to help you achieve your goals but before you even start talking to sales managers and negotiating deals there are a few things you should consider first.

What is your goal

Get clarity on your goal. There is no point going on the hunt for a gym if you have no idea what you want to focus on. If your goal is to compete in a bodybuilding competition then it is probably not appropriate to join a cross fit focused gym. Alternatively, if you want to enjoy being outside with the ladies and feeling free whilst working out then a bodybuilding gym probably won’t cater so much to your needs.

Get a feel for them

Make a list of the facilities that you think suit your goal and needs. Take a look at their social media and website to see their success stories and if they align with your goals. You’ll be able to get a “feel” for their principals and methods. If they talk about counting calories and that’s not your philosophy or you’re not prepared to do that – don’t go there because you will not get the results you want – you are not aligned to taking the action they believe in. To be honest, if you are not going to follow their methods and just look for someone to blame for your lack of results, they probably don’t want you there either. If you're looking for more of an overall wellness space, because that aligns with your way of BE-ing, then seek that. Consider this element of the journey like finding your 'tribe' or 'religion' as such. If you're vegan, then seek out facilities and methods that align with your beliefs. At the end of the day you have to be a good match for each other.

Ask around

Ask people you know, and have achieved results, where they train, why they train there and what they love about it. Are there people there that inspire them?

What do you need

Think about what it is that you need from your gym (just like when you buy a new car). Will you be training before work and therefore need showers? Does the location need to be near home or work or are you willing to travel for expert advice and service? Do you want classes included in the package price or are you willing to pay as you go? Are classes even necessary for you? Is a cafe or supplements shop onsite a feature for you? Are you happy to come and go as you please all hours of the day? Do you want a personal trainer at the facility or will you work separately with your trainer and just do your workouts at the facility? Do you want social gatherings or team events such as entry as a group to Tough Mudder? Are you comfortable working with older, basic, Arnie style equipment or do you prefer fresh, pristine, new machines?

How important is achieving your goal to you

This is a REALLY important part of your decision. Lots of people love the thought of being signed up to a gym (somehow just being signed up makes them instantly “healthy” and have status – trust me, I did this for MANY years) but the reality is that it contributes about 1% of you actually achieving your goal. You need to decide if you ARE going to achieve your goal or if it’s just a nice wish. If it’s a nice wish then for gods sake just save your pennies and don’t even sign up to a gym!

For you – there will be no inner drive to keep you consistently going to the gym, especially on those days when you “just don’t want to”. You have to be able to dig deeper and kick your own butt to go to the gym on those tough days because in all honesty the rest of the world doesn’t really care if you achieve your goal or not because it doesn’t impact them emotionally or in any other way. They don’t know what it feels like when your stockings are too tight all darn day as you sit at your desk, or your belly is hanging over your jeans at that fancy summer garden party or if you are dancing in the club holding your bingo wings up just so they don’t wave in the neon lights. (Do NOT steal my dance move girlfriends!)

For the gym – you will become just another member who wished there was some magic wand to take away the years of take away dinners, alcoholic binges and tv snacks. The member who loves to play the victim and mutters “but you’re just lucky” to those that are on point with their goals. The member who loves to tell the world that they didn’t get results because they didn’t get their free back pack on sign up, the showers weren’t working and the tv channel is not on the one you want (all bullsh*t reasons to engage others in your “victim” mindset).

For you, I suggest starting with what IS achievable. Start with the things you are prepared to do and action those - drinking less alcohol, eating more vegetables, getting better sleep etc

Where is the value for you

I have been a member at every possible chain gym and a multitude of private facilities over my 20 years of exercise. But it wasn’t until I truly invested in me that I achieved results and learnt a million things about myself, about health and wellbeing and was training with the best of the best.

While it’s great to join a gym that costs next to nothing every week, you’ll need to be sure that you have other motivators to get you there every day, achieving your goals because I guarantee you that you are more than likely just going to be another number, another revenue stream. It won’t be until you realise that you are not moving any closer to your goals and when you decide to cancel your membership that they’ll take notice of you. You will be offered 3 free PT sessions from a trainer who knows nothing about your goals or physical abilities (and may not even have expertise in your area of focus) and the pressure is on them to convert you to a paying client, all whilst they are getting paid nothing to try and get you to stay. I can say they probably aren’t going to give you 110% of themselves because there is nothing in it for them. (There is only 1 chain gym where I know that prices are very reasonable AND the gym manager is there every day, hours on end and knows EVERY SINGLE MEMBER by name!).

  • Do you just want a membership or do you want support too?

  • Do you want to feel part of a community?

  • Do you want trainers on the gym floor that you can ask general questions on technique or exercise styles?

  • Do you want a tailored program for exercise and nutrition?

  • Do you want trainers who are constantly investing in their own self-development and knowledge base?

  • Do you want progress reviews?

  • Do you want free workshops you can attend?

  • Are you ready to commit to a contract or casual basis?

Boutique facilities generally don’t have a casual membership where you pay per visit so you’ll need to consider that.

What works now may not in time

Be aware that as you move along in your journey the facility that suits you now may not into the future – which is not a bad thing. If you are starting out on your journey as you become more confident in yourself and abilities, and as your goals change, you may be looking for a different type of facility in the next 6-12 months so you need to factor in if there are any clauses in your contract for break out fees.

I’m sure I have sparked some thoughts for you and I do hope that this has helped you in knowing that there is more to achieving your goals than just joining any old gym. So get out there, start researching and choose the best facility that is going to help you achieve your goals.