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By Liz Tracy

How to find the right health club for you

A new job, a first date, a new city – each of these is a first but one of the most intimidating firsts is the first time you walk into a new health club. People go into health clubs for a variety of reasons. You may want to increase your fitness, find new people who enjoy the same things you do, or just continue with your personal workout regime that makes you comfortable.

When looking for a new health club there are so many questions and concerns to consider, most of which don't cross your mind when you approach the club. It may be difficult to concentrate as you are walked through the facility and the fee schedule and everything is so new and intimidating. You may find you don't want to hurt the feelings of the person taking you around the facility. But please consider the following as you discuss a possible partnership with the health club:

  • What are your personal goals for joining?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you need to sign a contract?
  • What are the hours of the club?
  • Are you able to access classes?
  • Do they have personal training?
  • Are there extra fees for classes or training?

It may help to write down these questions as the intimidation level may be high when you walk in and start discussing the facility. The first step, before joining any health club, is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor may have parameters that make some health clubs more desirable than others.

The next step is to decide what your personal goals are for joining the health club. Do you want to increase fitness? Drop weight? Tone your muscles? Or become more social? Once you've identified your personal goals, it will be easier to decide what is your best fit. If you want to be more social, does that include a single-sex facility? Or are you just as comfortable with a coed facility?

As you tour the facility, ask about the hours of the club. Do the hours change? When is the highest rate of use? Consider whether the hours are convenient with your schedule and needs. The facility should also include areas that make you comfortable and meet your needs. This may include a spa or a pool, an indoor track, classes, or childcare. All of these should be included in your decision making.

A big aspect to consider is the price of the health club. What is the monthly/yearly fee? Does this fee include classes that may be offered? Does it include personal training? If you want to use the locker rooms, is there a fee for that? If a club is offering a monthly package, check if this is under a contract, and if so, what is the fine print of the contract and are you able to cancel?

Picking a health club may be the easiest or most difficult decision you can make in your adult life. If the health club doesn't make you feel comfortable or adds stress to your life, it won't help you attain your goals.

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