Health Club tours are always well scripted events that are conducted by a salesman for only one or two people. When you are gong to go to tour the health club that you are interested in remember that touring one is not enough. Decide which one you really like best just by location and reputation and then tour a couple of others.
Why would you tour other gyms?
Well every gym you tour will have a salesperson pushing the points that are strongest at that particular gym; the size, the amount of equipment, the trainers. After you have gone on a few tours than you will be saving what you think is the best for last. At this point you are going to know a lot more about what would be important to you and you will be in a better place to not be sold by the pitch and instead be a bit more detached to what is important for your own needs in a health club.
So now on with the tours!
The look of the Health Club
Firstly do your fitness club tours at a time that you would normally work out, this will give you an idea of what the conditions are going to be when you workout yourself. When you start your health club tour the salesperson will start by telling you how great the gym is and how helpful and friendly the staff and other members are. Look around the gym and see what the equipment usage is like, is there any obvious waiting for equipment? Are you going to be intimidated by huge bodybuilders making too much noise? On the other hand does it deem to country club like for your tastes without a motivational feel?
Even though you may have worn workout clothes for your health club tour try to make sure that you do not use the equipment, the act of working out may distract you from your objectivity. While you are seeing the equipment take a look at the lighting, is the workout area bright enough. How much space is there between pieces of equipment? Are you going to be crowded in or is there to much room that makes the place look too empty?
Check out the layout of the entire fitness center, are there enough water fountains? Are you going to run into people while you are getting weights for the bench press? When you get to the changing room check out the showers, stalls and lockers and make sure everything is clean. You may be uncomfortable with the idea of showering with other people but over time you will likely find it useful to be able to have a workout, shower, and then continue on with your day.
When you tour the health clubs there are three kinds of equipment to look at.
Cardio Equipment – steppers, stationary bikes, treadmills, rowing machines. How are the usage of these machines, these are always very popular and if your are at the gym at busy time your will not want to wait between uses of the machines
Weight Machines – contraptions that you put weights on including nautilus and others. How well are these maintained? The worst thing for using these is if they are jerky when you are moving through your range of motion and you will not want to be using them which means they would be wasted equipment to you.
Weights, benches, racks – There are various ways to do your exercises but you have to sit or lean on something. Are there lineups for this equipment? How close and how many weight plates are around? Again you would not want to wait to use this equipment as the time between sets is an important factor as to whether you have a good workout or not.
Miscellaneous equipment- abs equipment, lower back. This equipment is usually shoved off to one side in the health club. You will want to be able to get to it as almost every workout you will want to either work on getting a six pack set of abs or strengthening your lower back. Is this equipment well covered or is it torn? Is there enough at a busy time or do you have to wait for this? It may not be too bad to wait for these pieces of equipment occasionally so it may not be a deal breaker for you.
One thing to really take a look at in your tour of the health club is the equipment and the apparent servicing of this equipment. Gym equipment is very tough looking and it may look to you like the equipment is very sturdy and does not need any work to keep it going. This is very wrong! Any reputable gym will have someone working for them part time to maintain the equipment, keeping everything greased, recovering the benches and seats and generally making sure that all of the health club equipment is in tip top shape.
Cardio equipment must be maintained as well. The cardio equipment in a gym has to take much more abuse than nay weight equipment ever has to. Parts are worn and have to be replaced so that everything feels smooth when using stationary bikes, treadmills, stair machines and rowing machines.
Lastly you will want to check out all of those really cool amenities….or maybe not.
Suntan Beds – Are you going to get a great deal on the suntanning? Do you even care if you ever use a suntan bed? If not why even factor that into whether you want to join?
Squash or racquetball – if there is some kind of courts look at whether you have anyone to play with, if your are outgoing you may find plenty of people to play with but if not it may be just a waste of space to you…and your membership fees pay for that upkeep.
Proshop and snack bar – these are among the most expensive places for clothes, drinks and equipment on the planet. Always an excuse for a break from the workout but they will always lighten your wallet.
Personal trainer on staff – This could be a great one, if there is a personal trainer then you may want to pay the 40 or so dollars an hour to improve your workouts but it can add up over time. See if there is some kind of plan for 10 sessions or something. And if you set up training then remember to take lots of notes in the car in the parking lot afterwards.
Pricing the Health Club
After you have been through more than a couple gyms and fitness centers you are going to know the tour pretty well and the hard close at the end that tries to have you sign up before you leave the door. Do not sign up right away as you can always leverage how the other gyms are when you are ready to sign up in the end. Every area of the country is a bit different as far as memberships go for health clubs but almost always there is a monthly payment, some kind of signup fee and a two or three year contract. When you are ready to decide look at all of the factors that are important and discount any amenities that you will be paying for but not using. The decision is usually a tough one between a couple of places but in the end I am sure you will be happy with your decision and on your way to an exciting new lifestyle.