In an effort to attract new members, many health clubs offer great introductory specials. While these specials may be very attractive, I encourage you not to be exclusively blinded by the deals.

Selecting a health club is a major decision that can have a significant impact on the likelihood you adhere to a fitness program. Here are a few areas I recommend focusing on to select a fitness center that’s best for you:

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Location

The location of your fitness center plays a huge role in ensuring you stick to your fitness program, especially after the New Year’s resolution hype wears off.

If your health club is too far or out of the way from your home or work, you’re less likely to visit frequently. And paying for a membership that you rarely use is a waste of money.

I recommend selecting a gym that’s no more than a 15 to 20 minute drive from your home or work. Having your fitness center relatively close leaves you with less time and excuses to prevent you from going.

Fitness equipment and programming

When contemplating your fitness goals and interests, determine if the gym you’re considering has the equipment and programming to meet your needs.

If you mostly enjoy lifting when you work out, evaluate the amount and condition of the strength equipment available in the fitness center.

Asking the health club staff questions such as, “How long ago was the current strength equipment purchased? How often does the facility make new equipment purchases or updates?” is an effective way to determine the gym’s ability to meet your needs.

Individuals who regularly attend group fitness classes should also take a look at the facility’s group fitness class schedule. When looking at the schedule, I recommend taking note of the class formats, times and if the classes are included with your membership, or come at an additional cost.

Accessibility

When touring prospective health clubs, I recommend visiting during the days and times when you would most likely work out.

Visiting during these times allows you to see exactly what you can expect during the time of your workouts.

If the fitness center is too busy during your preferred times to complete an effective workout, consider another gym.

Comfort with facility staff

During the time that you’re touring a prospective fitness center, take note of your interactions with facility staff. If you find that the staff is less than friendly or helpful, I recommend looking elsewhere.

At some point during your health club experience, you will need staff assistance. If you’re uncomfortable communicating with the facility staff to address your needs, perhaps this is not the location for you.

Brittany Baldwin is a certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Creighton University. She writes regularly for livewellnebraska.com.

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