4 key things you should be looking for when choosing a gym

Another Tuesday,another article.

I hope you have taken some benefit away from my previous 2 articles and that they are giving you plenty of help and advice towards your health,fitness and mindset goals for 2017.By now I am sure you are chipping through the 8 steps I mentioned in article 1 for 2017 and you probably have a few of those points nailed down as daily habits at this stage.In last weeks piece I gave you the pros and cons of both commercial gyms and personal trainers and today I plan on staying along a similar path which might just help you out even further on what plan to go with for year ahead.

Today I am going to cover basic things you should take into consideration before diving into your fitness regime for 2017.

First of all what you need to do is perhaps audit 2016.Look at what you enjoyed,what went well and what didn’t go to plan.This will set you up on really choosing the right path and even better not allowing you to go down the same route that may not have went to plan again.Time and time again I used to see the same faces every January in the commercial gym sign up for the annual 12 month “special offer” membership and come march they are nowhere to be seen.There are many reasons for this.Perhaps you got lazy,unaccountable,the training/gym you choose just wasn’t for you and turned into a chore,you weren’t making much progress towards your goal or you just became totally bored with the whole thing. I’ve said before you need to find a path that suits you best and will keep you on track working towards your goal.

What you ideally should do is find the right gym or trainer that is going to cater for your needs. A lot of the time people fall into the trap of signing into a place just because they are under a brand,seem to have the lowest price,best of equipment,or even have a huge presence on social media.

The key things to look out for.

Let me start these couple of points by mentioning this information really is for the individual who wants to improve their fitness and is willing to put some work in.If you are the person looking for saunas or Jacuzzi as top of the list when joining a gym this may not be the article for you.

  • Assessment

Upon joining you should have the option to be assessed with a trainer.Meaning you should have the option to sit down with a trainer,talk over your goals and overall that trainer will get a fair idea on where you main work is needed.A lot of the time I have seen people being shown around the gym,been shown how to stop/start the cardio equipment,receive a very easy and generic program and that’s that.To be honest may not suit most people who need that bit more guidance,structure and accountability when it comes to their training.Any client I work with sits down with myself and I generally screen them for everything from goal setting,mobility work,body composition,lifestyle factors,chat about their previous fitness regime,cover nutrition advice and generally put them through a number of movements to see how they fair.Getting all this information covered from day 1 really is the most important part to get the ball rolling.

  • Find the right trainer

Most commercial gyms now have a large selection of trainers.Along with that there are now many free lance personal trainers out there to private owned gyms/studios.Some are relativity cheap to join where as some can run from 80 per month all the way to 180 per month.Cost shouldn’t be the driving factor behind your decision.I am a big believer that you do get what you pay for.The gym staff/coach/trainer should look the part and behave like a trainer.They should show passion about what they do,be professional on all levels,bring excitement and energy to the session,motivate clients when days are low,know each and every one of their clients goals and ensure that goal is achieved.Having said that a good trainer will always give his pint of blood yet its always a 50/50 split with them and the client,the client must return the work too.They need to ensure your safety at all times and not just the “safe enough” approach.They are people who should tell you how it is,talk to you when your moving well and even help you out when your movement wasn’t  good.They keep you accountable overall.

  • Gym layout

Its great to see a lot of the big commercial gyms starting to keep up with the trends and shifting their focus on laying out the gym floor the right way.Long gone are the days of 100s of resistance isolation machines taking up space on the gym floor and now we are starting to see people focus a lot more on movement,mobility/flexibility,some strength work and the odd bit of conditioning work.A good layout in a gym is having assess to squat racks,barbells,kettlebells/dumbells. Having access to resistance bands and some other mobility tools such as foam rollers,lacrosse balls and mobility sticks really is a nice bonus.That equipment above might not sound a lot to some people but it means you can really put together a good workout having a strong emphasis on developing strength on the basic movements.I covered these top 5 movements in a previous article and you can find them here i.e pull ups, press ups, squat, deadlift etc.Having extras like some open turfed space,battle ropes,plyometric boxes,suspension trainers,prowlers,rowers,assault bikes will allow you to get some conditioning work in.

  • Community,programming and coaching

Having a large selection of classes can be good for some people.It can hold you accountable and for some people its a good social aspect and a nice way to make new friends.I have been to a number of facilities that have a strong sense of community about them.Having a community in a gym is important. It’s nice to be part of a gym where people know each other and is a place where you don’t feel intimidated.It should be a place that you should enjoy going to and place where you mean something and should be held accountable.

If you are looking for programming or coaching advice you are going to need to source a trainer for that.Like the point above you need to find the right trainer.Different people have different goals.A lot of the time the group classes offered in most gyms wont be catered for a certain individual and are really very generic.Everybody needs some small tweaks and not everyone’s program is going to be the same. A good workout program is one that builds a good foundation base,offers plenty of mobility/flexibility work, some strength work and constant stimulus variation of conditioning workouts is a good sign to start off with.Mobility work needs to be addressed,should be personal as different people have different weaknesses,strength training should be all done under % format as time goes on so its relative to that persons base.And as for the conditioning there needs to be a reason for doing the workout and it’s not just a load of fancy movements thrown together hoping its going to make people sweat and let them feel they have done a workout.Your program should be catered to your goal, your body, your training age, your strengths and your weaknesses.Point number 8 in article one i mentioned “test and retest” and this is quite important when it comes to the coaching you are receiving.Every 4-6 weeks I would suggest that you and your trainer sit down and assess a couple of areas that you worked on previous.This could be anything from a body fat test,repeating a benchmark workout to even a flexibility test.All this information you get back from this will highlight your progress and in turn keep you on track for 2017.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a direct message from the links below.

You can also get more advice on my social media pages, which are also linked below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.











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