READ BEFORE YOU JOIN.
It’s gym season. Millions of people will be shopping for memberships in the next few weeks and if you’re in the market for a new club, proceed with caution. A recent NPR story exposed some unsavory practices of popular gym chain Planet Fitness-- primarily the objective to recruit members who never show up.
Prove them wrong. If you decide joining a gym is your best move for sticking to your fitness goals, then dive in and find a place you love. I recently moved out of NYC and desperately miss my gym, Equinox. It seduced me with its super clean facilities, amazing group fitness instructors and comprehensive class schedule (8pm Pilates? Yes, please and thank you).
After you determine what you want (and don’t want) in a gym, here are a couple ideas for courting potential mates before making the commitment:
- TAKE A TEST DRIVE: Ask the membership advisor for at least TWO (free) days to use the gym before your join. Day one: try the equipment and feel out the facilities. Day two: visit the gym as part of your new would-be routine. You get a chance to decide if it’s a place you want to spend time, if it jives with your commute and if there are any deal-breakers to working the gym into your routine (like no towel service, only one evening spin class, or horrific traffic).
- TALK TO MEMBERS: Yes, talk to strangers. I know. It’s a big ask. During your test drive, or before or after your tour, stop a member and ask how they like the gym, and if they’d join again. CAUTION: choose the member and the moment to inquire wisely.
- SKIP ONLINE REVIEWS: I loved Equinox, but never wrote a positive review. Most happy customers won’t. Social media feedback will likely be cluttered with anecdotes and special circumstances from members who felt wronged. Go in person, get a trial, talk to people.
And, one last note: if your test drive fails---if your work commute becomes three times as long, or you need to wear a gas mask on the cardio floor – don’t do it. Keep searching, because you deserve better.