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What are the factors to consider while choosing a gym membership?

I want to reduce my weight by 20Kg in 3 months and so need a gym. I have never been to a gym in my life and would like to know what is offered there and want to be able to judge a gym when I am given a tour and shown the agreement, etc

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You're asking three very broad questions without giving any details about your situation or goals. Think about your question a little more, narrow it down, make it specific, and try again. –  Dave Liepmann Mar 29 '12 at 18:01
    
@DaveLiepmann how about now? –  MozenRath Mar 29 '12 at 18:05
    
It's better, good on you for editing it. But I still don't know which question you're asking. There are four, between the title and the first paragraph, and each one is quite separate. –  Dave Liepmann Mar 29 '12 at 18:12
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It might be too broad, but it's one question with specific details on your situation. Fine in my book. And again, kudos for constructive editing in response. –  Dave Liepmann Mar 29 '12 at 18:19
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And kudos to @DaveLiepmann for guiding users into improving their posts :-) –  Ivo Flipse Mar 29 '12 at 21:01

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The first step is to identify what you expect from the gym. Different gyms provide different services, and can help you achieve your goals in various ways. So without further ado, you have to ask your self the following questions:

  • What's near me? If the best gym is too far away to go regularly, it's not really the best gym.
  • What services do I want? If there are more than one gym to choose from, do you need nutrition coaching? Personal training? Just a barbell and weights?
  • What other goals do I have? That might help choose one gym over another.

So in order to achieve any goal you need to be consistent. Choosing a gym near you will help with that. It sounds like you will need some nutrition counseling. Not too many gyms have an on staff nutritionist, but some do. Ask around.

Just a couple refinements to your goals that will help you in the long run:

  • Don't focus on weight loss. Focus instead on fat loss or getting in to a particular size clothes. It's a subtle distinction, but you don't want to stress out if you gain muscle as long as you are losing inches.
  • Find something you will enjoy doing. Standing on a treadmill for an hour is some of the most mind-numbing hamster wheeling activity you can do. Fitness can be fun, and that's when you have lasting change. Check into the different activities at your local gym and find out what they are.
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The number 1 factor is to choose a gym you'll actually go to. Pick the closest one to where you live. Pick one that's open for as many hours in a day as possible. The fewer excuses you can give yourself for not going, the better.

Decide if you want to do a strength-focussed program or a cardio-focussed program (both can lead to weight loss if accompanied with the correct diet).

If strength-focussed, count how many proper squat racks are in the gym (not smith machines). Ask if the gym allows the use of chalk. A bonus (they're super rare.. might only find this on a university campus), the gym should have an olympic weight-lifting platform with bumper plates and allow dropping of loaded bars.

If cardio-focussed, look for a gym with the largest number of stationary bikes and treadmills.

Regarding the agreement, month-to-month plans are better than yearly contracts. Even if you have the option of a month-to-month plan or a cheaper yearly contract from the same place, pick the month-to-month plan in case you realize you would prefer another gym after a couple of months. The freedom to change is worth the price.

When taking a tour, go at the time that you're most likely to be going to the gym yourself. See how busy it is. Is the equipment you want to use actually available?


(As an aside, I believe your goal of losing 20kg in three months is really ambitious. That's 3.3 pounds per week. If you're going from no activity to an activity level that's going to result in 3.3 pounds of weight loss per week, you'll be toeing a fine line between eating enough to support your body's recovery from exercise and eating a small enough number of calories to allow weight loss. I'd suggest focusing more on eating properly to support recovery and muscle development (even if you're not doing strength training, the cardio will develop muscles), and don't be disappointed with a slower weight loss. Think long term. Injury or exhaustion caused from inadequate recovery and nutrition will set you back much more than losing only 1 pound per week.)

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Weight loss is more about diet than it is about working out. That said ...

For most people (male and female), the most effective type of working out is lifting heavy weights using compound lifts. So you need a gym where you can squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press. Namely, one that has a good squat rack, barbells, and heavy weights.

Google "Starting Strength" or "Strong Lifts 5x5" for good programs/routines.

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Instead of telling people to search for "Starting Strength" or "Strong Lifts 5x5," perhaps you can update your answer and explain what they are and why they are beneficial for weight loss? –  Matt Chan Mar 30 '12 at 13:20

I agree with the above people in that a gym is not a means to loose weight, it's a place to go fulfill your goals and objectives. It sounds like weight loose is your goal, as stated above this is more about nutrition/diet than about exercise...however the key to obtaining your goal is incentives to keep you motivated....those incentives could include:

  • a workout partner
  • an environment that motivates you to achieve your goals (this could be a gym where you 'expose' your progress)
  • a reward for achieving the goal OR steps to your goal, such as a new outfit, vacation, etc.

Regardless of the above, here are some key factors in picking out a gym:

  • location - if it isn't convenient to get to, you won't go
  • price - you need to be able to afford the gym - long term
  • cleanliness - a clean safe environment is essential (at least safe)
  • friends - the more people you know there the more likely you'll keep going
  • available nutritionist and/or trainer - to get you started
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