What To Look For In A Gym? Checklist Helps Find The Best Value!

When looking for a gym or fitness center I believe you should go where you feel most comfortable ... Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind when shopping for a good gym.

When looking for a gym or fitness center I believe you should ultimately go where you feel the most comfortable or really what your gut instinct tells you. The following information is not meant to knock any fitness facility or gym. This info is for you, the reader, to help you spend your money the smartest and wisest ways possibly, especially in a tighter economy.

The gym you choose should make you feel comfortable and welcome.

None of us wants to waste our hard-earned money at a fitness center where we are not getting a lot of product and service for our money. Where you choose to workout is your business and "to each his own." Whatever gets you moving and healthier is a great choice anyway.

In the late 1990s the first job I had as a personal trainer was in St. Petersburg, Florida. That job was with Lifestyle Family Fitness Center; at the time they only had 7 gyms (now they have nearly 40 gyms). The one I worked in was nearly 45,000 square feet and was always clean, with lots of equipment, free classes with membership, knowledgeable staff, and very reliable.

I was the youngest personal trainer so I had to really work hard to market myself. One of the ways I did this was to take on another job with the same gym. The job I took was floor trainer. This meant taking the responsibilities of a trainer who helped all new members with a few free sessions to get them integrated into the gym. This helped me increase my personal training business, but more importantly humbled me.

I was humbled with the additional position because to do this job you also had to help clean the facility bathrooms, gather the trash, put back all of the weights that were left out on the floor or out of place each night, sometimes fill in at the front desk, call and confirm appointments, check on the status of new and existing members, and all kinds of other little jobs ... all for only $5.25 per hour.

Take A Minimum Wage Job Or Keep Looking?
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Take A Minimum Wage Job Or Keep Looking?
I graduated from college in May and have been unable to find a good paying job. I got offered a part-time minimum wage plus commission sales job at a music instrument store. I would be doing sales and have the opportunity to give lessons.
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After my first job with Lifestyle Family Fitness I was hired by the infomercial guy Tony Little to train people One-On-One in one of his personal training facilities in St. Pete at the Trade Winds Hotel. I actually turned that down last minute since I had decided to move into Danville, Virginia.

While living in Florida and working at Lifestyles I trained at a number of different places. Some of those included: Gold's Gym, Bally's Gym, and frequent many others in the state. Ever since then I have always known what to look for in gyms when out of town.

When I chose to move to Danville I also had to make a decision on a gym for me to workout in and also to start my business in. I chose Perfect Body Fitness Center. I had been to a lot of the best fitness centers already and based my decision in Danville on my previous gyms.

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Perfect Body Fitness Center

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5 Tips For Finding A Good Gym

Here is a checklist you can use in searching for a fitness center:

1. Clean Facility:

You want the facility to be cleaned regularly and have some type of cleaner on hand, near equipment, or in a storage area if need be. Some gyms I have been to have towels with the cleaning products - which are washed regularly - and other gyms have paper towels loosely placed throughout, or in dispensers around the facility.

Remember though ... no matter where you go you should always wash your hands regularly, and never touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without first washing your hands thoroughly with soap.

Remember, no matter where you go you should always wash your hands regularly.

2. Equipment Variety:

Any place you go should have a lot of fitness equipment variety for you to choose from. Many times while on vacation I have chosen the gym with the most equipment variety because I like to change my routines and exercises often. My body is never bored this way.

If you sign up at a place with 10 pieces of equipment it is better than sitting on the couch, but you will soon go stale in your routines. This usually leads to boredom, which leads to dropping out.

3. Free Classes:

If you go to a gym which offers classes - such as: aerobics, toning, sculpting, cycling, strength, cardio, abs and bun firming, or step - and they want you to pay separate then you should be alarmed. I have been to a lot of very nice high-dollar gyms out West and here in the East and do not ever remember seeing anyone have to pay extra.

Now if you have a top expert or celebrity come to speak, hold a class, or workshop, that is totally different. Also you may have personal trainers or nutritionists hold classes in a gym for a fee because this is for their business and they are paying a rental fee to the club.

4. Knowledgeable Staff:

If you get to the front desk of a gym and there are only a few people on staff - barely over the age of 18 - and they are not well-trained (formally or informally) to help you get the fitness results you desire, then choose another gym.

Is The Staff At Your Gym Knowledgeable?

Yeah. I Can Ask Them Anything.
The Trainers? Yes. Front Desk People? No.
No. It's Like I'm Teaching Them.
I Don't Know I've Never Asked Them Anything Before.

Some of us do not need a knowledgeable staff because we already have a game plan, but this is the minority of us. The majority of us will have questions and need a little guidance and assistance. You usually cannot get this from the young guy or girl behind the desk who works there just because they look like they are in shape. Getting yourself into shape and getting others into shape are two totally different ballgames.

5. Reliable:

All too often, over the years, I have seen gyms rush into small and large towns and cities promising the world, only to really take your money and leave town. Many times you will see these gyms come into town with good marketing, but not good service once you are in the doors.

You want a gym with a great track record of being open a long time. You want a gym with a history of being good to its members. You want a gym that does not have a history of closing its doors after getting you signed-up for long-term contracts. If you have to sign-up for a long-term contract with a gym it usually means it wants you to stay even if you do not want to.


Lifestyles and many of the other top gym chains around the country changed their model years ago to month-to-month memberships and I feel like that is what is right and fair to members. You want a gym that does not try to nickel and dime you and ask for service fees which are constantly hitting your pocketbook. You are at the gym to work on you, not on them!

Gym 'Administration' Fees.
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Gym 'Administration' Fees.
I'm going to be in another city for 4 weeks, and want to purchase a one-month membership to the local Y, since my own gym doesn't have an affiliated facility there. The rate is around $55, plus a $25 "administration" fee to set up. So with taxes, etc, the membership ends up costing over $90 for a month. For a YMCA!
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The Gold's Gym I worked out in on 66th street in St. Petersburg, Florida, had many big names training there. Some of those included: Macho Man Randy Savage - Why was he there? Because the gym took care of its members. The couple who ran that gym really cared about the members and provided a clean facility with lots of variety in equipment and staff to help a wide range of people.

I also see this with Perfect Body Fitness Center and that is why I have run my personal training business through them for so many years. A gym can never please everyone, but if the majority of members are satisfied, then the gym is doing something right.

Perfect Body does not pay me at all so I do not get any financial gain from this, but I have to say that I like having my business and my clients at a gym where the members are always offered more and more variety in equipment and classes, a clean facility, knowledgeable staff, and a reliable business; all for very cheap. Perfect Body is great because it frequently upgrades the facility and services - the members rarely see an increase in price.

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