How to pick a Gym, Studio or Trainer

selfhelp workout Nov 08, 2022

'How do you pick a gym or a trainer?'

This is quite a common question that a lot of people have, so I thought it might be worth addressing in case it’s something that resonates with you as well. There are a few key elements you need to be factoring in when you decide to pick a gym or trainer. (I’m going to refer to a gym and studio as the same thing. By ‘studio’, I mean anywhere that holds fitness classes, be it yoga, boxing, boot camp, or spinning, to name a few.)

 Don’t overlook any of them because you don’t want to be part of the eighty per cent of people who have a gym membership and don’t use it consistently. Or who quit in the first six months. According to the IHRSA 2019 Health Club Consumer Report only 18% of members use the gym consistently and the majority of health clubs and gyms lose 50% of their new members within the first six months.

  Here are some tips to help you pick the right gym, studio or trainer.


Be Mindful of the Distance From Your House or Workplace

Don’t pick a gym that is too far from your house or your workplace. The reality is that even if you pick the best gym in the city, if you have to spend forty minutes commuting to get there, you aren’t going to go. Chances are, if you’re working a corporate job like most of my clients are, you really only have two, possibly three, options in terms of times you can work out:

  •  Before work (between 5:30am and 8am),
  • After work (5pm to 8pm), and
  • Possibly in your lunch break. (Ninety per cent of my clients don’t even take a lunch break, but, in theory, if the gym were close enough, you could duck out for a quick thirty-minute workout.)

 So, pick a gym that is easily accessible for you to get to on your way to or from work. It should take you no longer than fifteen minutes to get to. Eliminate the excuse of not having enough time to get there.


Check What Facilities the Gym Has

 Make sure the gym you are looking at joining has all the facilities you actually want and need. If you plan on working out before work and the gym doesn’t have showers, then do you have enough time to go home and shower and then go to work? A lot of smaller gyms don’t have showers so, although they can be great places to work out, I personally don’t think it’s smart to eliminate one of the few opportunities in the day you have to work out.

 Sometimes things change at work, and if suddenly you have to stay back every day to finish a project, and you can’t work out in the mornings, guess what happens to your workout routine? It doesn’t happen.

 Also check that you aren’t going to be paying for facilities that you aren’t going to use. For example, I know of a high-end gym that includes a café, a salad bar, and even an alcohol service – things I would never use when I go to the gym. I’m not saying these aren’t useful services, but for me personally I don’t want to pay for a premium venue if I’m not going to use sixty per cent of the services.

 Finally, it’s all the little details that are going to keep you interested and motivated to go, so be sure to focus on those. Check the showers and see if they have free soap, shampoo, and so on. Check out how clean the gym is. Does it offer towel service, and is this included in your membership price? Are there lockers so you can store your stuff? Do you need to bring your own lock? Is there cold water available to drink? What are the opening and closing hours? If it’s a studio, what is the schedule like? Does it line up with your work schedule, so you can go regularly?

 See how all these little things could really impact your workout routine if they don’t all line up with what you actually want? I personally don’t want to have to carry a towel, bottle of water and a lock with me all the time when I go to the gym, because I often decide to go spur of the moment when I have some time.


Search for Reviews and Recommendations

As with anything, ask around. If you’re looking for a gym or trainer that’s accessible to your workplace, then check with your work colleagues and they will be able to give you some recommendations. If you’re lucky, you might have just found yourself a workout partner while asking around. Or at least someone you can walk to the gym with because, as we covered earlier, having someone else to go with increases the likelihood of being consistent tenfold.

 When asking around for recommendations, make sure you ask some specific questions to help find the kind of gym or trainer you are looking for. Particularly when picking a trainer, ask questions like:

  •  Why specifically do you recommend them?
  • What results have you gotten with them?
  • What have you learnt from them?

 Dig a little bit deeper – make sure they aren’t just saying things like, ‘Oh, my trainer is great. We have a fun time.’ Or, in contrast to that, ‘The workouts are really hard.’ You need to get past the subjective answers and into the specifics of what makes them a good trainer. I would want to know things like:

  •  Do they ask you about your goals and then create a plan that aligns with them?
  • Do they track and measure your results?
  • Do they help you create routines and habits you can maintain on my own?

 See how you could start to tell whether the trainer was worth contacting or not by asking those kinds of questions?

 Finally, go online and look at reviews to see what everyone else is saying about a gym or trainer. Google any of my fitness businesses and I hope you see five-star reviews across the board. Don’t just look at the stars though. Read the reviews, spend some time going back through them all, and check to see whether they look legitimate or not. Unfortunately, often when a gym or trainer gets a few bad reviews, they ask their friends to go add a bunch of positive reviews and it hides the bad ones. Check reviews across multiple sites, such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, and so on, to make sure the messaging is consistent across each site.


Verify Credentials and Experience

 Don’t overlook this step in finding a gym or trainer, more so a trainer. I’m always surprised when someone reaches out to me to work with me, but they never ask any questions like:

  •  Do you have insurance? This is important for two reasons, 1. If something happens, and you get seriously injured, their insurance might cover your medical bills and 2. In order for a trainer to get insurance they need to keep their Personal Training Certifications up to date. This means they have been continuingly educating themselves as this is a requirement to renew your PT certifications.
  • What new courses or workshops have you done recently?
  • Have you continued your health and fitness education since becoming a personal trainer?
  • What are some client results that you are most proud of?

 These questions will put a trainer on the spot and force them off their normal sales pitch, so you can get a bit of insight into what they are really like. For example, asking a trainer what new courses they have done recently isn’t so much about the courses themselves. It’s more about finding out whether this person continues to educate themselves as a health and fitness professional. Best practices and exercise science are always changing. Personally, I want to work with someone who is up to date with the industry. 

 Don’t be afraid to ask some intimate and challenging questions as well. You could ask questions like;

  • What sort of people don’t you like working with?
  • What is your training style? Are you extremely strict, are you relaxed?
  • When was the last time you push yourself out of your comfort zone?
  • Have you recently done some sort of physical accomplishment?
  • Have you ever been overweight or lost a lot of weight?

Remember, you’re about to put a lot of trust in this person you’re about to hire. You’re expecting them to train you properly in an environment where you could easily get injured, and to make recommendations about your health and body, which should be best suited to you and your goals. You want to know what sort of trainer they are, are they inspiring you to, do you have common interests or views? You should put a lot of thought into this decision.

I hope this helps steer you in the right direction!

Jay Quarmby - Fitness and Lifestyle Coaching

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