finding the right gym
In today’s blog, you will get the tools to help you decide what gym to join as you begin (or continue!) your journey towards a better and stronger you!

It’s important to consider your options before your commit to a given gym. Failing to do so could result in you skipping workouts, losing motivation or you may even stop training altogether. 

 

Step 1: Location, location, location

The first thing you need to do is figure out what gyms are accessible to you. Ideally, you want to find a gym near your house, near your work, or somewhere in between.

To find out what gyms are in your area, go to maps.google.com and search “gym near you” or “fitness centre near you”. These two options might give you slightly different results so be sure to record both.

This should give you many options to choose from. Now you need to determine what you are ready to invest toward your fitness journey.

 

Step 2: Cost

Deciding if you simply want a gym pass or if you want to purchase personal training sessions is your next step. If you're an experienced lifter, you know your way around the gym and can go at it without any help. But if you're just starting out, I suggest you get a qualified trainer to look at you move and make sure your technique is on point. Having a coach at your side will ensure consistent progress and greatly limit the risk of injury.

If you decide to go with the gym pass, be ready to invest from $40 to $100 per month.

On the cheaper side, you’ll find community centres and low cost gyms. The downside of these places is that the amenities aren’t always well maintained and the equipment might not be the best. It can also be tough to train at “rush hour” (right after work) in places that are very busy.

 
line up
Waiting for the squat rack...
 
On the other hand, some private studios offer a completely different experience with towel service, individual lockers and a lot more space on the gym floor.

In those cases, you usually get what you pay for.

If you are looking to get some one-on-one coaching, you’ll be looking at a minimum of $200 per month (1 training session per week).

Some gyms or trainers offer preferential rates for those who decide to commit for a longer time period, so be sure to enquire about such details before you decide on anything.

On the topic of time commitment: If you’re new to the gym, don’t try and get anything less than 6 months to start off (assuming you found a good trainer). This amount of time will allow you to see great progress and also get a good understanding of how the gym and training works. This will mean you can potentially train by yourself in the future. 

Anything less than 6 months won’t be worth your time. Fitness and strength take time to build. So don’t rush it!

For a complete beginner, I would suggest starting with two training sessions per week, for a minimum of 6 months. 

 

Step 3: Member Profile

The atmosphere in the gym can make or break your fitness success.  Finding a place that you enjoy being at is important, especially once the excitement of just starting out wears off. The people that populate your gym will have the biggest impact on how much you want to go back to that gym as well.

Over time, you can develop strong connections and even friendships with your fellow gym-goers. You might be working towards different goals, but you are all putting in the hard work it takes to keep moving forward.

The best way to know what the atmosphere is like in a gym is to visit it, both at rush hour and at a more quiet time during the day. You can also ask the staff about the regulars when you are enquiring about their rates and membership options.

 
Origins Parkour Weight Room
The kind of folks we have at Origins Parkour!

 

Step 4: Equipment

dumbbell rack
 
To keep things simple, let’s say you want to get stronger and look good. Unless you are willing to spend a lot of time on your hands (like Jo does), you’ll likely gravitate towards free weights to reach your goal.

The bare minimum you'll require is a good rack of dumbbells (up to at least 50lbs if you’re a woman or 80lbs if you’re a man), a bench and some sort of bar to hang from. Those three pieces of equipment alone will provide all the resistance you'll need to work on the primary movement patterns (squat, hinge, single leg, upper body vertical push/pull and horizontal push and pull). 

Anything after that is a bonus. Barbells, Squat Racks, Kettlebells, GHDs, Cable Machines, Med Balls, etc... They’re all great to get you stronger, but you can definitely do without them if that’s your only option. 

 

It's Your  Decision

The best gym is the one that will fit into your schedule, your lifestyle, your goals and your bank account. Be sure to sample a few places (most gyms offer a free trial) before your make your final call. You want to pick the right place before you commit!

If you're a beginner but still want to make your own way through training, check out my Youtube Channel and use my exercise demonstrations to stay safe and get strong.

Sean is a personal trainer and strength coach who loves teaching beginners how to safely get stronger in the gym. He lives in Vancouver BC with his wife Lynne, and their children. Sean has a keen eye for good movement and encourages a positive lifestyle to support good training results.

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