This year I made the huge decision of leaving my second home aka the gym.
Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s worth taking some time to do some research before joining a new gym. It is(hopefully) a place you’re going to spend a lot of time and (sadly) a lot of money in the future.
When I first moved to Odense, I joined Fresh Fitness because it was close to where I live. And, it only cost 99 kr. a month (the downside was that I had could only workout between 9 pm and 9 am with that membership plan). After just a few months it was bought out by Fitness World. So I had to switch to a much more expensive plan – but it also meant that I had access to multiple gyms and classes all around town.
Being a student, you’d think I had access to a university gym – and that is also the case. Because I study Sports Science & Health, I even have access to the special gym with top notch equipment that’s used do scientific research. However, it’s only open from 8-16, so most of the time we have classes. On top of that, you can get kicked out at any moment if somebody is teaching or doing tests.
Additionally, there’s the university gym for all students; it’s fairly cheap and has good opening hours. But – there’s always a but – I live a good 6 kilometres from uni and always travel by bike. I’m often too tired to workout right after classes, even when I start the day with the best intentions.
So I’ve learned it’s best for me to find a gym that’s close to home, where I can workout in the evening on both week days and weekends. This fall, Urban Gym opened a few gyms around Denmark – including one right in the buildings of my old gyms. And I was sold the moment I learned it was as cheap as my original 99 kr but open 24/! I am after all a poor student, so price is the most important factor for me.
What to consider before joining a gym
What all this is leading up to, is telling you about all the different factors you should consider when you’re looking to join a gym.
First of all, it’s always worth asking if you could get a free training day or tour at the gym so you have to chance to see what they have to offer – it’s better to get a feel of the atmosphere and the people who come there than to simply look at their websites and make a decision.
How am I going to get to the gym?
By bike, walking, driving or public transport?
I think it’s very important to make it easy for you to get to the gym. It’s gonna be very demotivating to make those new years resolutions come true if you need to ride for half and hour or more in the cold – and only then does the workout begin!
The closer the gym is to where you live, the easier it will be to get over there, the better results you’ll get.
Do I need to be part of a single gym or multiple ones?
The upside of joining a large chain of gyms is that you get access to a gym on multiple locations – so even if you travel a lot, or sometimes want to workout by your work and sometimes close to home, you have that option.
But that might not be necessary for you, in which you might be so lucky that your membership will be a bit cheaper.
Facilities (that you actually need)
What kind of equipment do I need for the kind of workouts I want to do?
Don’t be blinded by a fancy crossfit area if all you’re going to do is spend time on the cardio machines.
On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time running, it’s nice to have multiple treadmills available. You don’t wanna cancel your workout just because of that guy training for a marathon.
Personally, I think a big area with free weights is important to me, but I also use cardio machines every once in a while.
One thing that’s less important to me, is showers. My gym doesn’t have showers (that’s part of the reason why they’re so cheap). I was already going home to shower most of the time, it’s not a big issue for me.
Your situation may be different if say you head straight to work from the gym.
When will I usually have time to workout?
What kind of gym has open from 8 to 16? That’s not just my uni gym, a commercial gym I was a member of years back. That’s crazy inconvenient. But most gyms realise the majority of people don’t have time to workout at typical work hours and consequently have long opening hours.
Price & Membership plans
Which membership plan best balances what I need with what I can afford
Gyms aren’t free – it costs money to maintain equipment and so on. Not all gyms offer membership plans, but the big ones usually do – which means you might save a bit of money by giving up a few privileges.
Here’s an example of how different plans might look (with the cheapest first)
- Access to 1 of the chain’s gyms for a limited time period
- Train whenever you want at 1 gym
- Train whenever and wherever
- Train or join classes wherever and whenever
- Same as above + some premium offer, like a free protein shake after your workout or personal training
This can vary a lot from gym to gym, so take your time to compare what they offer and how expensive it is (there’s no decision a handy spreadsheet can’t help with).
Can I learn to workout and get to know the gym on my own, or do I need help?
Many gyms will have one or more personal trainers on their staff. They can help introduce you to the machines and some basic exercises. They can also work with you for a longer period of time to help you reach your goal.
If you’re new to the gym, this can be a great shortcut to learning your ways there.
Do I want to control my own workouts or follow an instructor in a group?
Gym classes can be a really fun way to add some variation to your workouts – and it’s fun to exercise with others.
When I joined Fitness World, I made an effort to try out all their classes to figure out what they were all about. I only ended up going to 2 or 3 of them consistently, but I did have fun every time and learned something too.
The social aspect
What gym does my friends workout at?
You might not think of this immediately, but having a buddy to go with can help you stay motivated and committed long-term. When I was in high school, all my friends and I went to the same gym, so even when we didn’t make arrangements beforehand, there’d always be someone to have fun with and talk to between sets. This is also the thing I miss most at my current gym as I don’t know a single person.
If you consider gym-time to be your me-time, the time where you shut everything else out and just crush it. That’s totally cool too! The point of all these factors I’m listing is for you to sit down and consider what matters to you, so you can make the decision that’s best for you 🙂
What made you choose your current gym? Do you have a gym buddy? Let me know in the comments!
Disclosure: This post is not made in collaboration with any of the mentioned gyms