What Should I Consider When Choosing a Fitness Center?

Sherry Holetzky

You want to get in better shape, or maybe you just want to stay in shape. Joining a fitness center is a great way to do either one. Still, you may not be sure how to go about finding a fitness center that meets your needs. The main thing to consider when choosing a fitness center is your level of comfort. If you are uncomfortable or self conscious, you are not likely to stay motivated enough to go regularly.

Joining a fitness center is a great way to get in shape.
Joining a fitness center is a great way to get in shape.

There are several issues to think about when it comes to comfort. Is the fitness center clean and well lit, with state of the art equipment? Is the equipment in good repair, and is there someone available to instruct you in using it? Is there a comfortable place to rest, as well as clean, private restrooms and showers?

Good fitness centers have a wide selection of equipment.
Good fitness centers have a wide selection of equipment.

Another comfort issue involves other patrons. Some fitness centers are more like singles’ clubs. Are the people there working out and working up a sweat, or are they dressed to the nines, not a hair out place, and spending more time socializing than exercising? If you are serious about working out, you may not find the latter appealing. On the other hand, if the fitness center caters to hardcore body builders, you may feel intimidated, or you may simply prefer a more relaxed atmosphere.

Private showers may be a consideration for some people when choosing a fitness center.
Private showers may be a consideration for some people when choosing a fitness center.

Location is also important when choosing a fitness center. Is the health club in a safe, well lit area that you will be comfortable visiting, even at night? Is parking convenient and nearby, so you won’t have to walk very far alone? Is it close enough to your home or your office that travel won’t become a problem and keep you from attending on a regular basis? These are each important things to keep in mind.

Availability is also a key issue in choosing a fitness center. Find out which fitness center has hours of operation that make it convenient for you to utilize. If you are interested in aerobics or other exercise classes, see which center offers the greatest availability. Find out not only if classes are scheduled at times when you can take advantage of them, but also if the instructors are professionals.

The cost of joining a fitness center will also likely to play a role in your decision. Shop around for a good deal, but consider the other issues along with the price. The least expensive fitness center may have the lowest prices because it has the least amenities.

Some fitness centers are more like singles' clubs.
Some fitness centers are more like singles' clubs.

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Discussion Comments


@SauteePan - I agree with you, but sometimes it is fun to work out with friends. I think that if you get can get a groups of coworkers together to work out with you then you will have to consider how far the fitness center is from your job.

You also might want to consider what types of promotions that they are offering too. Sometimes if a group joins at one time they may give you a better rate than someone going in for a single membership. You also might consider a local versus a national fitness center because a national center may have more locations throughout the country and you may be able to workout at a location when you are on vacation.

However, a local fitness center might be more intimate and less expensive.


@Mutsy -Wow that must have been terrible. I think that the most important thing to consider when joining a local fitness center is how clean the facility is. You can easily judge this when you go in.

Gym equipment tends to contain a lot of bacteria so you want to be sure that the equipment is wiped down or at least you have the ability to wipe down the equipment before and after you use it.

That is a real pet peeve of mine. I hate when I go use a machine and it is full of someone else’s sweat. This is why I just have a treadmill and work out with weights at home.

I like that I can work out whenever I want and clean my treadmill when I finish. I feel better that way and I also don’t have to have the hassle of anyone calling me to renew my membership.

I also think that there are no excuses when you have your own equipment at home because it is too easy to say that you are too tired to go to the gym, but when you have a gym at home it is harder to come up with those excuses.


@Suntan12 - I agree and I also wanted to add that some fitness centers require contracts while others offer a month to month membership. I prefer the month to month membership because I only want to pay for the time that I am actually using the gym and I don’t want to have to be locked into a contract that could last for several years.

I had a really bad experience when I was younger and getting a fitness center membership. They charged me twice for the membership even though I did not finance the bill.

I had the charges reversed and my credit card company told me that many people have had similar problems with this particular fitness center chain. This is why I will only do month to month memberships.


I think that when you consider a fitness center membership you should look at the business hours of the center. Some are open for 24 hours while others open early in the morning and close in the evening.

If you have an erratic schedule you will want a fitness center that has a 24 hour operation. You also may want to consider the fitness center amenities. Spinning class, Pilates, and an Olympic size pool are all amenities that most people look for in a local fitness center.

It is also important to think about a coed fitness center or a ladies only gym. If you are a little self conscious like me, the ladies fitness center might be a better fit. It really depends what your comfort level is.

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