Gyms and Fitness Clubs

Joining a Health Club: 2. What to look for


There are many things to consider when looking for a health club that will meet your needs. Following are some of what I think are the most important ones to consider.

In order to make as informed a decision as possible, I recommend setting up a tour of the club with one of the membership staff. Ask a lot of questions during the tour. Not only will the salesperson enjoy it, but also you will learn everything you need to know about the club.

The following are some characteristics of the club you need to familiarize yourself with. Use these as an outline for questions to ask on your tour.

Qualifications of the staff

This is one of the most important features to look for in a club. It's unfortunate, but this day and age anyone can call themselves a personal trainer. You don't need a license or certification to be one. However, a certification is highly recommended (more on this later). If you are unfortunate enough to get a trainer with no background education or worse yet, little experience, you will get frustrated. The frustration may come from lack of results or injury due to improper form. I really believe that anyone who calls themselves a personal trainer should be certified from an accredited organization. Later in this chapter I will discuss in more detail what you should look for in a personal trainer.

Friendliness of the staff

The biggest fear people have when joining a club is not feeling comfortable. A good staff will welcome you with open arms. You should be greeted by first name and with a smile each time you walk in the building. The staff should be helpful, knowledgeable, and courteous.

My staff is required to walk the floor and offer help and encouragement to the members on a daily basis. I let them know at every staff meeting that this is crucial if they want to keep their jobs. As a result, our reputation in the community is based on a staff that gets to know each member by name and is always willing to offer assistance.

Hours of operation

Health clubs across the country vary greatly in the hours they are open. Make sure that the club's hours of operation fit your schedule. Nothing is worse than joining a club and later realizing that they are closed during the time you prefer to work out.

Cleanliness and good maintenance

This is self-explanatory. Walking into a locker room with mold growing in the corners isn't what most people prefer. Ask questions regarding the cleaning schedule. When looking at the fitness floor, do you see "out of order" signs on various machines? If you do, it may be a sign of neglect. Another absolute "no-no" for a heath club is when duct tape is used to hold things together. This type of environment will not make for a good exercise experience.


The best way to determine whether or not you will have to wait for a machine is to tour the club at the time you will most likely be using it. If it is jam-packed at the time you walk in that day, then chances are it's the same way every day. Now, there is an exception. You'll find that Mondays are more crowded than any other day of the week. I think Mondays are busy because many people have a little too much fun on the weekends. Could that be you, perhaps?


There are many different types of amenities health clubs offer. Some examples include aerobics or Pilates classes, a juice bar, a pro shop, tanning, spa treatments, basketball or other court sports, towel service, Internet access on the cardiovascular equipment, sauna, hot tub, pool and many others. You need to decide what amenities fit your needs and use that in your decision whether or not to join.

I highly recommend shopping around. Go and see what each club in your area has to offer. Many clubs will have a free trial membership. Some may give you one day while others may allow you to try it for two weeks. I've even heard of clubs offering 30 days free. Take advantage of these free trial memberships in order to make the right decision.


Choosing a club that is close to your home or workplace is critical in determining your success. You are more likely to use the club if it is in a convenient location. However, don't choose a club just for this reason. It must meet your needs.